‘Glitter jars’, or ‘calm-down jars’ are a great example of how crafts can be used to promote good mental health. Glitter jars are essentially jars filled with water, glue and coloured glitter, that you can shake up and down when feeling stressed or anxious. They can also be used with children as a timer for time-out, or as a tool to help with regulating emotions and sensory needs. They are a wonderful tool for adults too! They are a brilliant stress reliever because watching the swirling glitter settle is very calming!
Glitter jars can also be used as an analogy for mindfulness. You can imagine that each colour of glitter represents something different e.g. silver might represent feelings, and purple might represent thoughts. At the start of the day, the glitter is settled at the bottom of the jar because nothing has happened yet to create bad thoughts and feelings. However, throughout the day, lots of events might take place to shake up the glitter in jar. We might be late getting ready, leave an important piece of work at home, or get into an argument with our sister in the car. It may now be more difficult to concentrate because the jar has been shaken up and the glitter, or negative thoughts and feelings, are in the way, blocking our view and making it difficult to see clearly. The moving glitter represents how thoughts can swirl around in our heads when we are angry or upset, and this can make it difficult to think coherently.
When this happens, we can’t push the glitter to the bottom, and no amount of effort will make it settle more quickly. Being still is the only thing that can be done to settle the glitter and make everything clear again. We must be still, acknowledge the thoughts and feelings, and let them be there. If we are still and acknowledge that the thoughts are present, they will then fall back to the bottom of the jar again and settle so that we can see clearly again. While we wait for things to settle, the glitter doesn’t go away. The thoughts, and feelings are still there and we don’t want to get rid of them, we just want them out of the way. We want to notice that they are there but not always act on them or get carried away with them.
To make a glitter jar you will need:
- Any jar or bottle you can seal shut permanently once finished
- Clear glue or glitter glue
- Coloured glitter
- Food colouring or watercolour (optional)
How to make a glitter jar:
- Clean out your jar/bottle and remove the labels
- Put 2 tablespoons glitter glue in your jar or fill it until it takes up ¼ of the jar. It is up to you how much glue you add. The more glue you use, the longer the glitter will take to fall to the bottom. You can use coloured glitter glue or normal clear glue.
- Add the glitter! Add as much or little as you want but be aware that if you add a lot of glitter, it won’t move around as much. You can also add beads and sequins or anything you fancy.
- Add hot water (but not boiling as this may break the glass) and stir with a spoon to dissolve the glue. Fill the jar but leave a little bit of space at the top.
- It is optional to add watercolour or food colouring. You can make it as dark or light as you like. Use a stick to stir it in little by little until you get your desired colour.
- Seal the lid and shake. Watch the glitter swirl and fall to the bottom!
Here is a link to a YouTube tutorial which demonstrates the process:
Here is a link to a website that explains how glitter jars can be used to improve our mental health and help us to be more mindful:
At the café this month, we did some glass painting and played games. Here are some photos of what we got up to:
Happy New Year!