Out of all my mental health conditions, I honestly think that depression is the one I find hardest to manage.
Once it takes hold, no amount of logic can fight it and it can leave me feeling worthless, drained and wanting to give up.
I’ve tried lots of different techniques over the years, but the one that I’ve found to work best is a Happy Jar – sometimes known as a Memory Jar.
It’s basically a giant collection of all your happy memories, achievements and just general things that make you smile.
Whenever I start to feel worthless or like I’ll never achieve anything (which happens more often than I like to admit), I’ll use my happy jar to look back at everything I’ve already achieved in my life.
Getting a first class honours degree at uni, the pride on my parents and Chris’s face when they saw me graduate, becoming self employed and even being featured in newspaper and magazine articles.
But on top of that, I also include funny stories and happy memories that always make me smile.
Things like jumping up and down with my dad at a Status Quo concert to Rocking All Over the World, exactly 10 years after he nearly died of a heart attack. Going to my first ever gig (Fall Out Boy in case you’re wondering) and “yes we’ve established that one”, which is a joke that only my friend Abby will understand but that still makes me laugh to this day!
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It can be really hard to think of things at first, so I tend to scroll back through my photos and memory books and see if that triggers any memories.
If you’re still stuck after that, try asking people what they think your biggest achievement is or for a funny story/happy memory you both share.
They’re super easy to make, all you really need is a jar (or any kind of container/box really), a pen and some paper.
You can make your jar as fancy or as minimalistic as you like.
I keep mine quite basic but I saw some incredible ones on Pinterest when I was originally browsing through for inspiration.
Once you’ve picked (and possibly decorated) your container, you just need to add the memories. These can be one word written on piece of paper torn from a note book, or a few paragraphs written on a fancy post it note.
It all depends on the size of your container and how much effort you want to put into making it.
You can also use pictures, ticket stubs and your favourite quotes.
My happy jar is pretty small, so I use a separate memory book (aka an old photo album) to store my photos, tickets, pins and other items; as they wouldn’t fit in my jar.
This is the main way I use my happy jar these days, as its much more convent and you can view it anywhere.
It’s not exactly practical taking a jar and two memory books with me whenever I leave the house!
Having a happy jar on your phone is basically the same as having a physical one – you simple add all your happy memories, achievements, photos and quotes to a notes file on your phone. Then whenever you need to use it, simple open it up and scroll through everything you’ve saved on there.
Personally I find this version a lot easier to use and maintain.
You don’t need to get your pictures printed off, you can update and use it no matter where you are and its easier to make it look nice with emojis.
The only problem is if you could loose your phone or accidentally end up deleting the file, which is why I have mine synced up to the cloud and I make a backup of it ever few weeks.
It’s never happened to me yet, but technology and me don’t get on so never say never!
Do you use a happy jar? If so, do you find it helpful?
Thanks for stopping by! I’m a twenty-five-year-old digital media graduate with a passion for writing and a desire to change the way we view mental health and autism. I’ve owned jademarie.co.uk for nearly two years now, and its slowly changed from a place where I would brain dump whatever was going through my head that day, into a place where people can come for help, advice and hopefully a bit of a laugh. I do occasionally come out with a witty sentence or two. Mostly by accident.