Surprise friends w/ The Most Useful Gifts For People With Fibromyalgia This Holiday Season

Text reads "this holiday season, surprise your friends with the most useful gifts for people with fibromyalgia," above a smartphone wearing a santa hat and surrounded by snowflakes, smartphone screen reads "2023 gift guide, janetjay.com"

Gifts for people with fibromyalgia aren’t hard to come up with: you just have to put yourself in their shoes. (Hopefully, cute ones.) Though fibro is an invisible disability, that doesn’t make its effects, like chronic widespread pain, fatigue, sleep issues, and sensitivity to movement and environmental stimuli, any less real. 

If you had those limitations, what day-to-day tasks might be challenging to get through or what self-care strategies might help? Think about the particular person you’re shopping for: what do they struggle with, and how could you help?

A well-thought-out gift shows care and compassion for your loved one and their limitations. But above all, useful gadgets and relaxation-promoting treats given as gifts for people with fibromyalgia help remind them of the greatest present of all: that you listen and that you care.

Drawing of women giving each other big hug, with hearts, in front of a plant, window and chair, saying thank you for the gifts for people with fibromyalgia

Brace Yourself

Depending on their particular physical issues, these items may allow your loved one to do more for a longer period of time. Though these can be great gifts, people with fibromyalgia should run the idea by their doctor before wearing these for significant portions of the day.

  • Shoulder Brace: Supports the rotator cuff.
  • Wrist Braces: Support for both day and night use.
  • Compression Sleeves or Socks: More support for what hurts ya. My partner swears by these.
  • You can use this hook and loop tape to make sure your brace, ace bandage or microwavable heat pack stays where you put it (more on heat and cold options below)
  • Kinesiology Tape! This is a newish option in terms of pain relief. There are many different kinds and the application can be a little complicated so it may take a little trial and error to figure out how to use it to support your specific issues. But I know people who swear by these.

Above all, useful gadgets and relaxation-promoting gifts for people with fibromyalgia will remind them of the greatest gift of all: that you listen and care.

art in shades of teal of a woman opening a closet and looking into it, art via undraw

Standing Room Only

Supportive shoes (ugh): listen, I get it. I wore Chucks from age 13-35, but then my feet said “NO MORE, YOU ASSHOLE” and I had to find some shoes that were actually supportive. If you know your friend with fibromyalgia’s fashion sense, these could be a great gift.

There are tons of really, really ugly supportive shoes out there! But after too much research I’ve been really happy with Clark’s: I have two pairs of dress shoes from them that are actually comfortable enough to get through a wedding in. (I am in no way sponsored by them, though if they want to send me free shoes I certainly wouldn’t say no.) I even found some sneakers that are pretty nice and definitely not so ugly it makes me want to cry. And hallelujah, I can stand in them without my foot punishing me for the next week+.

Have you found a brand that makes supportive shoes that aren’t atrociously ugly? PLEASE tell me where the heck to buy them.

  • The combo of supportive shoes and shoe inserts/insoles make a massive difference for me in how often and how bad my plantar fasciitis flares up and how my joints feel the day after standing a lot. They may not be a sexy gift, but they sure help.
  • Gel anti-fatigue mat: For any kind of standing, these lil guys are a must. If your friend with fibro doesn’t have one of these in their kitchen, then bam, perfect gift.
  • Shower chairs! Standing up to take a shower can be too much sometimes. You can get super affordable ones, or spend a little more to get something that looks really nice.
art of person looking at a phone screen with different types of clouds representing changes in weather

Protecting Your Senses

Avoiding fibro flareups is a learning process, but here are some things that may help.

Cleaning Up

When someone has fallen behind and just can’t catch up, the gift of a housecleaning can feel life-changing. Whether you hire someone or do it yourself, a couple hours of help getting their space cleaned can greatly improve a person with fibro’s physical AND emotional state. Sometimes you’re just crushed by all you need to do and need someone else to come in and help you get out from under it.

clipart of a woman seen from the side with her knees to chest and her head in her hand worrying about: a clock, a bottle, bills, a virus, etc. art via undraw

But until the housecleaner gets there, these items can make things easier.

  • Robot vacuum or combo vacuum/mopper: I have many friends who swear by these! Join the other cool kids on my Patreon and maybe someday I can afford a Roomba of my very own. I promise that I will put googly eyes on it ASAP.
  • DRILL BRUSHES! Seriously, this is a huge one. If you have a drill, you can buy brushes that hook into it, everything from just basic brushes to a many-brush system, each aimed at cleaning a different thing. Anything you would otherwise need to scrub or wipe off, BAM, that drill will do it for you. Discovering that these existed was a huuuuuge game changer for me.
  • Pill organizers: weekly, bi-weekly, daily, twice daily, low-tech, high-tech– there are so, so many different kinds out there. If you know your friend well enough to know their needs here, this could be a great gift. If they are in a situation where they’re sharing space with people they don’t entirely trust, think about a pill safe or locking bottles.
  • Sometimes you’re just crushed by all you need to do and need someone else to come in and help you get out from under it.

    art of a woman giving a massage to another woman with pictures and shelves on the wall behind

    Going Past Tense

    This amazing doc has a whole bit where para- and quadriplegic guys discuss the actual mechanics of how they have sex

    "murderball: massacring misconceptions, the quad rugby doc that changed how i thought about disability, janetjay.com" beside a cartoon of a man in a wheelchair holding a basketball

    While all these are nice, there’s no substitute for an actual massage therapist or other specialist trained in body work. (Don’t go to a chiropractor. For the love of all that is good and/or holy, don’t go to a chiropractor.) But paying for a massage would be an amazing gift for people with fibromyalgia.

    Filling the long hours: arts, crafts, and exercise

    Shopping for someone stuck at home? Think about an art or craft that they’ll enjoy. For instance, I knit, draw, and would like to get back into collaging. I enjoy the process a lot (and so does my aunt, frequent recipient of my scarves) and it does the dual duty of distracting me from my pain and helping my ADHD brain focus (I don’t know if i would have made it through college without knitting during class).

    However, it’s SUPER important that your gift recipient takes breaks when learning a new skill, especially one with repetitive motions like knitting, crocheting or cross-stitch. I learned this one the hard way ! Get up every 20 minutes, stretch, and start slow until you know how your body will react– good advice for any new activity, really.

    overhead view of two hands working a piece of knitting or crochet with a hook, two different kinds of yarn, a thimble, needles and other knitting supplies in tones of teal. Image from istock, by Svetlana Larshina

    The challenge is finding gifts for people with fibromyalgia that keep their brains occupied and involved, even if they’re stuck in the same place on the same couch day in and day out. So I also do less artsy stuff: I play video games, I watch movies & TV and read a lot of books and graphic novels. (have you read my post on disability in Star Trek or my review of a graphic novel about pain?), I enjoy a nice crossword.

    It’s important that your friend with fibromyalgia takes breaks when learning a new skill with repetitive motions. I learned that one the hard way after a long day of knitting.

    What do they enjoy that will get them moving? This one’s a little harder, especially depending on the pain level of the person you’re shopping for. But if there’s something physically that they enjoy, it can make a massive difference in the amount of exercise they get– and just about all of us with fibro could use more exercise.

    Pillows: More Important Than You Think

    a woman sits with legs crossed and finger to her lips, behind a cat, beside a table, with a horizon and moon behind her through the window, art via undraw

    If they’re just using whatever was on sale, a high-quality specialized pillow is one of the very best gifts you can give to someone with fibromyalgia or other chronic pain conditions that affect sleep quality.

    text reads "pillow types for fibromyalgia: wedge, bolster, knee pillows, janetjay.com" with examples of each of those gifts for people with fibromyalgia
    • Check out all the unique pillow options! A Leg Bolster (or half-bolster), Boyfriend Pillow or Wedge Pillow may look odd but could greatly help someone with fibro get to sleep. (Or, uh, help them get a little… action… with a less pain.)
    • Get pillows for that support their style of sleep: as a side sleeper I use one of these for my head and these between my knees. Mine just looks like a regular pillow; I’ve never tried the fancy-shaped ones but they seem like they’d work!
      • Does your gift recipient have curly or wavy hair? Consider satin pillowcases! They made a surprisingly big difference in my amount of hair frizz.
    • And don’t forget about inflatable pillows! You don’t have to blow them up, nowadays they’ll inflate on their own. These can be invaluable gifts for people with fibromyalgia to throw in their bag when travelling or running around town so that it’s always there when needed.
    Cartoon in blue shades of a woman lying on her stomach in bed, looking at a clock reading "2:58 with a tired grumpy look with text around her reading "chronic pain and trouble sleeping: a sleep routine may be your cure for insomnia, janetjay.com Cartoon in blue shades of a woman lying on her stomach in bed, looking at a clock reading "2:58 with a tired grumpy look with text around her reading "chronic pain and trouble sleeping: a sleep routine may be your cure for insomnia, janetjay.com

    Sleep is a huge factor for those of us with fibro. Check out my full post about chronic pain & trouble sleeping for free printable pages to help you figure out how to get some shuteye.

    Finally nodding off

    So many of us with fibromyalgia also suffer from insomnia. The pain can make it really hard to sleep, which makes you hurt more, which makes it harder to sleep! Check out how to break the cycle here.

    The Most Important Gift for People With Fibromyalgia? Understanding.

    This guide focuses on practicality and comfort, recommending gifts for people with fibromyalgia that can make their day-to-day life easier. But remember, the thoughtfulness and care behind a gift are what makes it truly special.

    Have you come up with any great gifts ideas for a friend with fibro– or do you have something you’d love to receive? Comment and let me know!

    Pin this to remember where all the great gift ideas for people with fibromyalgia live!

    Text reads "this holiday season, surprise your friends with the most useful gifts for people with fibromyalgia," above a smartphone wearing a santa hat and surrounded by snowflakes, smartphone screen reads "2023 gift guide, janetjay.com"
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