As an extrovert – I get energy from people and I thrive on meeting new people, attending events, seeing live theatre, hosting dinner parties, and travelling. I have to confess that I have had a case of the Covid-19 Blues off and on for the past 8 months. While there is no quick fix cure for the Covid-19 blues, my coach Sharron Hall shared this amazing exercise with me that I have found very helpful, and I want to share it with you.
Create a joy jar!
This isn’t as easy as you may think. When I am feeling sad, I struggle to find things that make me joyful. I have to dig deep. You may have your own method, but this is what works for me. Here’s how to do it:
1. Grab your favourite journal, find a cozy place to settle in, put on some music, get a mug of hot tea or coffee and get ready to discover your joy.
2. Ask yourself these questions – what childhood memories do I have that reflect a time in my life that I felt happy? Don’t worry if it’s something as simple as riding your bike – just jot down every memory that pops into your head. Do this same exercise for every decade of your life and reflect on times you experienced a feeling of well-being, happiness or you just felt remarkable.
3. Take each memory and next to it write what it is that made this experience so special. For example, I have a memory of riding my tricycle up and down the sidewalk in front of my house when I was 5 years old. The feeling I had as a little girl was one of freedom, adventure, a sense of independence. Once you start to connect the dots between the memories and the feelings those memories evoke, you will start to discover the things that bring you joy, and happiness.
4. Take each memory/feeling and start to brainstorm activities or experiences that would give you a similar feeling. For example, riding my tricycle gave me a feeling of freedom, what activity can I do now that will evoke that same sense of adventure or independence?
5. Write down each activity on a piece of paper and put it in a jar, basket or container.
6. When you are feeling low, or sad or frustrated – reach into your Joy Jar and pull out one of your “ideas.” If it feels like something that may help, do it, if it doesn’t put it back in the jar and pull out something else – keep doing this till you find an activity that suits your mood – then you MUST DO IT!
Here are some examples of what is in my Joy Jar and what feeling this activity evokes –
Go for a hike with my dog – this gives me a feeling of independence, freedom, and adventure (like when I rode my tricycle).
Create a new playlist – this brings me a sense of creativity and discovery.
Dance – I feel young, silly, and free.
Bake cookies. This comforts and grounds me – makes me feel safe.
Go buy some fresh local farm food – my favourite hunts – Fickle Fig, Deep Cove Market, Michell Farms, Dan’s Market, Root Cellar, Red Barn and any Farmer’s Market. This makes me feel grounded, gives me a deep sense of connection to the land, my community and food. Also makes me feel safe.
Make something new for dinner – depending on my mood – it can be comfort food, or something exotic, or themed (like Greek or Italian). This evokes a feeling of adventure, joy, and excitement of experiencing something new.
Set a beautiful table, with a lovely tablecloth, candles, fresh greens or flowers and when the season calls for it, some seasonal décor – for example, mini pumpkins are part of my table setting right now. This makes me feel creative, innovative and abundant.
Go for a drive. Discover a new neighbourhood, or drive to your favourite beach, or on a charming country road. I love going for a drive with my husband on a rainy Sunday afternoon. We put on music, hold hands and dream about everything from our next vacation, to our next chapter! This makes me feel dreamy, adventurous, playful and honours my sense of curiosity.
Write an encouraging letter to a friend of a family member. I have always felt so much joy when I bring others a wee bit of joy. I keep a list of people in my life who need encouragement (which is pretty much everyone). Sometimes it’s a simple as an inspiring quote, other times I write a letter. This makes me feel purposeful, useful, helpful, and encouraging.
Drop off a surprise care package to someone. With so many of us working from home I have taken time to create a thoughtful bag of goodies that can not only make someone’s day but it’s so fun to put together. I fill it with things like a magazine, home-baked cookies or homemade jam, a bottle of local wine, or tea, or flowers. This makes me feel abundant, generous, and even luxurious.
Organize a game night. We play this fun game in our family called “Personal Preferences.” We played with my daughter and her husband who live in Sydney, Australia on Zoom during the lockdown - and it was so fun to actually play with them! This honours my value of fun, play, laughter, and silliness.
Dress-up. I love taking the time to actually put in a little effort sometimes. Whether it’s simply putting on a fall sweater I haven’t worn since last year, and some red lipstick, or pulling together a new look with ideas from fashion bloggers or images I have seen in a magazine. This celebrates my love of luxury, self-care, and beauty.
Plan an escape day. I love to create an itinerary for me and someone in my bubble, for a whole day! Pack snacks, warm clothes, bring along a new playlist and go out for a whole day of fun. Maybe you start your day with a hike, then you have a picnic or lunch somewhere, then go for a drive. There is something so fun about creating a whole day of fun! This reflects my love of adventure, new experiences, and the anticipation of something fun ahead.
Read a book. It’s truly luxurious for me to be able to read for a few hours. Whether it’s fiction that allows me to escape or non-fiction that stimulates my curiosity, or a self-help book that inspires. This honours my love of storytelling, escape, and creativity.
Laugh. Some things that make me laugh - my friends, Schitt’s Creek, James Corden's Carpool Karaoke, or silly videos on Youtube, and old school cartoons like Bugs Bunny. This allows me to feel young, free, hopeful, silly, and playful.
Hot baths. This allows me to feel luxurious, cozy, and abundant.
Remember your Joy Jar is meant to be added to daily. When you think of something that brings you joy, write it down and put it in there!
I have found that focusing on things I am grateful for, and for things that bring me joy -- and actually taking the time to write them down has helped me enormously. I hope you have fun making your Joy Jar! I would love to hear what’s in your jar!
Save this picture for when you make your joy jar!