Looking for something more thoughtful than a standard gift card for Mother's Day this year?
All moms are special, but moms who are Highly Sensitive may feel much deeper appreciation for thoughtful gifts, due to their genetic capacity to feel more deeply. Dr. Elaine Aron, author of the book, The Highly Sensitive Person, estimates that only 15-20% of the population are born with the innate biological trait of high sensory processing sensitivity. That means your mom's brain actually works a little differently than others. Because her brain naturally processes information and reflects on it more deeply, your mom is also easily prone to overstimulation, overwhelm, stress and anxiety.
Here are 8 gifts for every budget, ranging from $4 to $299, that will help your mom feel special and understood.
1. Noise-canceling headphones
Being highly sensitive can feel like the volume's been turned up in the world. There's a constant barrage of noise and no mute button. A good pair of noise-canceling headphones will transport your mom to her own quiet little sanctuary in no time.
CNET ranks the QuietComfort 25 model from Bose the "Best Noise-Canceling Headphones of 2016". At an MSRP of $299.99, these are the priciest on this list but well worth it for the special woman in your life who willingly kissed your booboos away.
Slip on a pair of these luxurious leather cushions around mom's ears and she'll bliss out in the white noise alone. Even without music, they hush ambient sounds by creating frequencies that eliminate the noise at your ear.
2. Amber glasses
Research increasingly shows that artificial light, including the blue light emitted from electronic devices, lowers melatonin levels and disrupts sleep. For a highly sensitive person (HSP), getting sufficient rest is not only key to maintaining emotional, physical and mental balance, but it's also a natural, healthy way to retreat from the overstimulation of the world. In general, bright, harsh lights tend to overwhelm HSP's, and for that reason, amber-tinted glasses make this list because of their softening, calming effects.
Prices range from the orange tinted Uvex Skyper safety eyewear at $8 on Amazon, which blocks out most blue light, to $75 for the Low Blue Lights brand, designed specifically for better sleep, blocking out 100% of the blue light shown to suppress melatonin.
3. Gradual Alarm Clocks
If your mom's high sensitivity causes her to startle easily, abrupt, loud or repetitive noises (like those caused by most alarm clocks) can create instant anxiety and overwhelm. While it may be a bit more tolerable when she's awake, a sudden jolt out of her REM sleep makes for a grumpy mom all day.
The Philips HF3520 Wake Up Light Alarm Clock, at an MSRP of $169.99 is designed to eliminate all that with its natural sunrise simulator and gradual nature sounds. It also has an intuitive dimming display that adjusts automatically according to the natural light in the room, so no more bright lights or stubbing her toe in the dark during her midnight bathroom runs. The only wake-up light clinically proven to work, this clock also works in reverse with a natural sunset simulator to help her drift to sleep naturally at night.
4. Adult Coloring Books
Adult coloring books are all the rage. And yes, this is the type of adult product your mom would approve of. Earlier this year, CNN reported that coloring reduces anxiety, creates focus and brings about more mindfulness, similar to the effects of meditation. If your mom's highly sensitive brain causes her to have overactive, racing thoughts, coloring can not only quiet the incessant chatter in her mind and alleviate her stress, but it can also create an opportunity for deeper bonding if you make a play date of it and color together. Think wine, cheese and colored pencils on a lazy Sunday afternoon with mom.
You can go with the standard calming, peaceful designs or try something new and slightly naughty with the world's first swear word coloring book printed on black paper, which currently ranks #1 best seller in ALL books on Amazon. Because sometimes, mothers need to swear too.
5. Headspace app
If coloring in books (on actual paper, gasp!) is too archaic for your modern mom, the Headspace app is proven to reduce stress, improve focus and increase mindfulness, along with a myriad of other powerful benefits. Highly touted by its 5 million+ users, it can be modified to suit one's mood or lifestyle. This may not be a physical product that you can wrap up with a pretty bow for dear mom but once you install it on her smartphone, she'll find her inner Zen and all will be forgiven. It's a gym membership for the mind, and it won't induce a drop of sweat.
Speaking of sweat...
6. Specialized Gloves & Bandanas
Temperature sensitivity is common in HSP's. If your mom is always cold, always hot or fluctuates between both, these three small, simple gifts go a long way for everyday use.
A. Touchscreen gloves: The Moshi's Digits touchscreen gloves were voted best touchscreen glove of 2016 by The Wirecutter. They'll keep mom's delicate hands and fingers warm while still allowing the dexterity and ability to use her touchscreen devices. The interior soft, microfleeced lining are perfect for moms with a sensitivity to coarse fabrics and harsh texture. They're thick, snug and feel luxuriously cozy when you slip them on. It's like a warm hug for cold hands.
B. Fingerless gloves: If your mom's anything like mine, she has to touch everything. My mom can't buy clothes online because she has to feel it with her fingers first to determine if her fingers approve. If she sees something she likes, whether it's a dress at a department store, a flower at the Botanical Gardens or a passing stranger's silky hair at a swap meet, she HAS TO touch it. For moms who enjoy tactile sensations and touching things with their fingers, these gloves will provide warmth while honoring their compulsion by freeing the fingers to feel objects. They're the perfect solution without the added bulk of touchscreen gloves.
C. Neck coolers: Worn around her head or neck, these modern chilling bandanas are sure to keep mom cool while gardening, hiking or during everyday activity. The Ergodyne Chill-Its Evaporative Cooling Bandana is under $5, lightweight and stays cool for hours, helping reduce the effects of heat stress. Simply soak in water until saturated and wrap around your neck. Its cousin, the Chill-Its Cooling Towel, is a bestseller on Amazon and covers more skin for just a few bucks more.
7. Personal cooling fan
Trendhunter.com calls The Handy Cooler Personal Air Conditioner "the greatest wireless invention in the history of mankind." Don't let the size fool you. More than just a fan that recycles the air, this $49 portable miniature air conditioner packs a powerful cool punch that not only cools the person or object directly in front of it but it's robust enough to cool the air too. Simply soak the cooling filter with water and turn it on. The humidifying effect of this cooler also helps alleviate breathing problems from dry air and moisturizes the skin. It has a sleek, ergonomic design with USB power for office desktop use and battery power for the ride home from work and beyond. Your mom's body temperature will thank you.
8. The Ostrich pillow
While the $99 Ostrich pillow conjures visions of sci-fi movies with strange bulb-headed beings, once you get over the weirdness of it, you may fall in love with this and want one yourself.
It basically sucks in your entire head, creating a micro-environment to shut out the world and take a nap. Oh yea, and it has holes for your hands so they can nap too.
If you're a mom, you can probably relate to daily fantasies and dreams of escape. If you're a highly sensitive mom, you probably already have one. If you want to ease mom in to this bizarre world of Ostrich pillows, try the Ostrich pillow light version, which wraps around the eyes and ears, creating a sightless, soundless world without the alien bobble head.
Tree Franklyn is the author of The Ultimate Emotional Survival Guide for Empaths and Highly Sensitive Women Who Feel Deeply. You can get her free guide here and learn how to transform your sensitivity into an empowered gift.