9 Life Improving Christmas Gift Ideas

December 7th, 2009

Healthy Christmas GiftsChristmas is about spending time with friends and family and giving them gifts that will enrich their lives. Since there are few things that are as empowering or invigorating as excellent health, why not give some gifts that will help the people you care about most experience this for themselves?

The following are some gift ideas based on items that have improved my life, and I still use many of them on a regular basis. I hope that they truly help the people you may choose to give them to, and I also hope that you thoroughly enjoy the satisfaction that results.

1. A Gift of Pain Relief and Healthy Muscle Function

Whether for work or for fun, it’s very common for people to engage in repetitive activities that promote muscle tightness and eventually lead to pain and injury. Although many people suffer from joint and muscle pain, few people realize that it’s often caused by muscle tightness or that it can be easily resolved through the use of simple self massage techniques. If you know someone who suffers from muscle or joint pain, a foam roller and The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook are great gifts that are likely to help them relieve their pain and prevent injuries. They’re also great gifts for athletes and people who exercise frequently.

If you like to joke with people, you can even have some fun with the confusion that might result from someone not knowing why you gave them a 3 foot foam cylinder. Don’t worry, once they experience how relaxed their muscles feel after using it and how effective it can be for pain relief, they’ll thoroughly appreciate you introducing them to the concept of self massage. You can even include a gift certificate for a deep tissue massage to reacquaint them with the benefits of massage and motivate them to take better care of their body by using the foam roller at home.

2. A Gift of Nourishment

So many people complain about the cost of pasture raised meat and how hard it is to find. Unfortunately, this is often a result of them simply not having made the commitment to invest some time and money into their health. If you know someone like this, help them get started with a gift certificate to U.S. Wellness Meats, or if you know what they like and you have freezer space to store it, you can order them a combo pack of grass fed steaks. Alternatively, if they enjoy fish more than meat, you can get them a gift certificate or combo pack of high quality seafood from Vital Choice Seafood and Organics. With this easy access to high quality food, perhaps you can help to change someone’s eating habits for the better!

3. A Gift of Healthy Indulgence

Nearly everyone loves dessert, especially ice cream, but most people either overindulge or let guilt prevent them from truly enjoying it. One of the most satisfying ways to resolve this problem is to make your own desserts. Doing so allows you to choose ingredients that are healthier but still delicious, and this helps to ease the guilt. For most people, it will also allow them to enjoy dessert a little more frequently. An ice cream maker is a great gift to help someone get started with making their own deserts, and the The Ice Dream Cookbook is an excellent companion that includes delicious and health conscious dessert recipes. The ice cream maker that I use and recommend is the Cuisinart Pure Indulgence.

4. A Gift of Sunrise and Pleasant Mornings

It’s bad enough that most of us wake up in a miserable panic each weekday morning to an obnoxious alarm. During the winter, it’s even worse because most of us get out of bed when it’s still dark outside. A much more peaceful way to start each day, especially on dark winter mornings, is with a sunrise alarm clock. This is a great gift for anyone who has trouble getting out of bed. I use the Soleil Sunrise Alarm Clock along with its 300 Watt Controller that allows the alarm clock to be used with a lamp. Another popular model that some people like more than the Soleil is the BioBrite Sunrise Alarm Clock.

5. A Gift of Better Sleep and Posture

Many of us spend much of the day sitting at a computer which encourages forward head posture, and in turn, can lead to rounded shoulders, a rounded back, a misaligned pelvis, and all sorts of pain and injury. In addition, the many hours spent sleeping each night with a regular pillow pushes the head forward in relation to the body and contributes to forward head posture. A pillow designed to support your neck while letting your head rest in proper alignment with your body can make a significant difference and even promote more restful sleep.

For many years, I had forward head posture that was very noticeable and had a lot of upper back tightness to go along with it. Although it was mostly corrective exercises and a better awareness of my overall posture that enabled me to correct it, I think my Tri Core Pillow has been a significant help as well. Perhaps someone you know who has poor posture, neck pain, or back pain might benefit as well.

6. A Gift of Health and Longevity

If you’re living a healthy lifestyle and have been enjoying the tremendous benefits, chances are that you’ve encountered some frustration trying to convince friends and family to pursue the same benefits. Unfortunately, most people won’t listen to the people close to them and need to be convinced by someone else.

Two books which I think have great potential to accomplish this are How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy by Paul Chek and The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson. Both books are focused on promoting optimal health through a well rounded healthy lifestyle and include excellent information on diet, exercise, stress management and more. How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy is based more on a health practitioner’s perspective while The Primal Blueprint focuses on reacquainting ourselves with some of the basic and healthy evolutionary habits that we’ve lost along with the advent of modern technology. Either book is a great gift for a close friend or family member who you think could benefit from healthier habits and would be willing to read about them.

7. A Gift of Relaxation

Modern life can be frantic and most people are under excessive stress that’s compromising their health and mental wellness. Although there are many techniques for reducing and relieving stress, one of the easiest ways is to simply listen to soothing music. This makes an excellent gift for anyone who could use some relaxation but is unlikely to seek out this type of music themselves. In addition, this type of music can be used to help improve sleep which also makes it a great gift for anyone who has trouble falling asleep.

Although I normally prefer music that is upbeat and energetic, I often listen to relaxing music while driving to help keep me in a calm and relaxed mood. I’ve found it to be very effective, even if I’m not paying direct attention to it. Some of the relaxing music that I listen to includes Liquid Mind VII: Reflection and Relax: A Liquid Mind Experience by Liquid Mind, Yatra by David Parsons, and Kaleidoscope by William Edge.

8. A Gift of Fitness

Although some people want to prevent injury or improve their performance, health, or physical function, most people are motivated to exercise by the desire to lose weight. Most of these people don’t truly understand weight loss, and whether they realize it or not, they’re most likely looking to use exercise to compensate for poor eating habits and may end up sacrificing their health for appearance as a result. If you know someone who fits this description, you can help them realize that exercise is more about promoting optimal function and health than weight loss. The two books I mentioned earlier about healthy lifestyle habits, How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy and The Primal Blueprint, might also help them realize that a healthy diet is the most important and effective aspect of weight loss.

For someone who’s genuinely enthusiastic about fitness but needs some direction, I recommend Core Performance by Mark Verstegen. Although I disagree with some of what’s in this book, it’s a great resource for someone looking to learn the basics of a well rounded exercise program. I think it’s a much better choice than the overrated P90X program which in my opinion promotes the use of excessive exercise to get “ripped abs.” Unlike the P90X, Core Performance represents what fitness is really about, it’s much less expensive, and most importantly, it’s a learning resource as well as a workout program.

For anyone who would like to exercise at home, Powerblocks adjustable dumbbells makes an excellent gift that will make it possible to perform a wide variety of strength training exercises practically anywhere. A stability ball is another great gift idea for exercising at home which is less expensive and is great for stretching and body weight strength training exercises.

9. A Gift of Healthy Feet

Although commonly neglected, our feet are one of the most anatomically complicated structures of the body. Despite this, we spend most of our lives wearing shoes that limit foot function, and in turn, can cause joint and muscle issues elsewhere in the body that most people would consider to be unrelated. A simple solution is to spend more time barefoot and wear shoes that promote natural foot function. This is an especially good gift idea for athletes, runners, and people who frequently incur foot or ankle injuries.

The Nike Free line is a great choice for people who’d prefer a normal looking sneaker, and Vibram Five Fingers are the best choice for those who are less concerned with looks and want to promote as much natural foot function as possible. I have both and wear the Nikes as casual shoes and the Vibram Five Fingers for exercising.

Happy Holidays!

I hope you’ve found these gift ideas helpful and I especially hope that they’ll inspire someone you care about to have more appreciation for the potential that healthy living can provide.

With the anticipation of the holidays and the additional opportunities to spend time with friends and family, December has the makings of a great month. I wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season and hope that you thoroughly enjoy every moment of it!

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