Good & Bad Gifts for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Fibromyalgia

Finding the Perfect Gift

Some gifts are in apprpriate for someone with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. Walker and Walker/Getty Images

Are you looking for a gift for someone with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome? While we certainly can't define people by their illness alone, there are some commonalities those of us with these conditions share that can make certain gifts fabulous and other gifts failures.

It helps to know what kids of issues we face, and there are likely more than you realize. Here are 10 gift ideas and whether or not they're appropriate for the person you're shopping for.

Warming Products

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Most of us are cold a lot of the time, and when we get chilled we can have a hard time warming up. These days, you can find a lot of things that heat up—blankets, slippers, scarves, and more.

Also, a lot of microwavable products are on the market, such as heatable neck pillows or "rice bags."

Warm socks, a cozy bathrobe, plush slippers or other warm clothing may be a good choice as well.

The big things to consider with this kind of a gift are:

  • Make the fabric is ultra-soft and the product itself isn't heavy against the body.
  • Be sure the product is easy to care for (i.e., machine washable) so it doesn't take work to use it.
  • With electric products, check to see if the heat turns off automatically so it doesn't become a hazard if they fall asleep, or if brain fog strikes and it doesn't get turned off.
  • Items that use water, such as heated foot baths, could be too heavy or require too much cleaning.

Relaxation Aids

Woman lying on couch listens to headphones.
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Easing physical and emotional stress can help alleviate our symptoms, so promoting relaxation is good.

Soothing music is a good option for many and it's actually therapeutic, so possible gifts could include music-download gift cards, CDs, an MP3 player, or good headphones.

Other possibilities are massage devices or things that aid meditation.

Some things to watch for:

  • Many of us are sensitive to noise and/or vibration, so vibrating massagers may not be a good choice for some.
  • Avoid aromatherpy, bubble bath, scented lotions, scented candles, etc. unless you know the recipient is not fragrance sensitive or prone to skin reactions.

Time Fillers

Close up of a man's hand as he colors in an adult coloring book.
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Many of us spend a lot of time in bed or on the couch, and things that fill down time can really be valuable to us. Ideas include:

  • Adult coloring books with markers or colored pencils
  • DVDs
  • Small, hand-held video games (especially brain-training games)
  • Puzzle books (don't forget mechanical pencils)
  • Books (for those with good cognitive function)
  • E-reader
  • Hobby/craft supplies for activities they enjoy

If you're willing to keep up a subscription as an on-going gift, these can be great options:

  • Video-streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime)
  • By-mail movie rental subscription
  • Magazine subscriptions

Illness-Related Books

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If the person is newly diagnosed or is really struggling with symptoms, an easy-to-understand book might help. A lot of good books are out there, but so are a lot of bad ones.

  • Avoid those that claim to hold the "cure" or promise good results—nothing is proven to help all of us.
  • Stick to major publishers and widely distributed books.
  • Check online for reviews from readers.
  • Skim parts of the book to see if it's approachable and not weighed down with too much medical jargon.

Exercise-Related Gifts

Dumbells sit on a yoga mat along with a rolled towel and a water bottle.
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This is one to avoid unless you know for certain it's something the individual would want! People with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome get a lot of well-meaning but inaccurate advice about exercising more, so be aware that this could be a very sensitive issue.

However, if you know the person is trying to walk more or has a regular exercise program, something that makes exercise more pleasant or aids them in some way could be a very appropriate gift.


Three cactus plants sit on a white shelf in front of a red wall.
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House plants can help create a healthy and pleasant environment, so they might seem perfect for someone who spends most of their time at home.

However, they could be a bad idea. Someone who has trouble caring for themselves may not be able to tend a plant, and it could become "one more thing to worry about."

Flowering plants can be a big problem for someone with allergies, too.

If you do decide a plant is appropriate for the person you know, be sure it's a low-maintenance variety.

Gift Cards & Event Tickets

Green concert tickets on a white background.
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Planning ahead is difficult when you have an unpredictable illness, so tickets to a date-specific event may be hard for a person to use. The same goes for gift certificates with an expiration date.

Gift cards to local places are likely to go unused, especially by someone who has trouble driving or isn't able to leave the house often. Don't think, "It'll give her incentive to go out, and that will make her feel better." In reality, the strain of the shopping trip could trigger a symptom flare and land her in bed for days.

Gift cards for online retailers may be a better choice. If you don't know of a store the person especially likes, opt for a large retailer with plenty of options.

Skin Care, Candles, Food

Perfume and bathsalts sit on a cloth.
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Those of us with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome can be sensitive to all kinds of things. Anything that touches the skin or is scented can be a real problem, so things like lotion, body wash, scented candles, perfume, and aromatherapy products are best avoided unless you're well informed about the person's sensitivities.

Many of us have food sensitivities as well, which could mean food given as a gift goes to waste. Once again, this is only something to give if you know the person well enough to be familiar with their particular food issues.


A red stethoscope is wrapped around money.
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If you don't know what to buy or the person on your list is one of those who "has everything," you might want to consider a donation in their name to a major advocacy/research group dedicated to their illness. Many of those groups are listed here:

Time & Help

A clock is divided into multiple slices, like a pie.
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The less functional the person is, the more they would probably appreciate the gift of time and help. Can you help with grocery shopping? Gardening? Cleaning the gutters? Putting up the Christmas tree? Think about what they might need done and make that your gift.

If you don't have time to help, you might consider hiring someone, such as a housekeeper or landscaper, to come do a really thorough job or tackle a daunting project.

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