Stressed AF? Make A Calm Down Jar For Instant Relief

SUMMARY POINTS

> Calm down jars are visual meditations in a bottle
> Easily make your own in 5 minutes with simple ingredients
> Use it at work whenever you need to relieve stress and relax

Doesn’t it feel just like yesterday?

Sitting in the living room with your family, the fireplace crackling and the smell of Christmas turkey in the oven.

You’re sitting on the couch holding the new snow globe Santa brought you. Inside, it has Rudolph pulling Santa's sleigh high in the sky above a snow covered house.

You shake the snow globe and watch with fascination as the blizzard you just made engulfs the scene. Chaotic, yet slow and hypnotic.

Each little snowflake flittering in slow motion.

After what feels like a lifetime, you hear the crackling of the fire in front of you and look up.

You find yourself staring into the fireplace with the same peaceful admiration as you just had with the snow globe.

Watching the flames dancing back and forth has you feeling entranced. With each flicker and spark your find yourself in a deeper state of relaxation.

Suddenly, your mother’s voice breaks the trance, “Honey, I’m not going to tell you again, dinner is ready!”

Oops, you were in another world. Crazy how the time just flew by.

You’re not quite sure how that happened but you do know you feel very much at peace. 

Why These Types Of Visuals Bring Calmness

As an adult, it doesn’t seem to be any different, does it?

Staring into fires, getting lost in a snow globe or looking out a rainy window still brings about that calming and somewhat zoned out feeling.

So why is it that we feel so calm and relaxed after blankly staring at some things?

When we find something that deepens our senses completely, we end up in a state of hypnosis. Having all our senses be completely concentrating on one thing actually reduces feelings of anxiety, fear or anger.

If we look at a fire, for example, we can get lost in it for hours. This is actually due to certain information from our prehistoric ancestors that is stored in our DNA.

Back in our caveman days being beside a fire meant more than just chillaxin’. The fire itself actually promoted less stress and relaxation to happen.

That fire meant having fewer worries. You’re not worried about being cold, you’re not worried about dangerous animals, you're not worried about the dark and you’re not worried about not being able to eat.

The fire had solved all those items for you. This is why you have the ability to be completely at ease.

In fact, according to this study done by the University of Alabama, fireside relaxation will even go as far as lowering your blood pressure.

And snow globes are no different.

It all goes back to being a child and gazing with that unique wonderment children have. Staring for hours, being bewildered, yet calmed, that there is a whole world inside this tiny ball.

Yet a safe world, a world with a protective shell, held in your hands.

It is this part amazement and part subconscious understanding of it being a safe place, that promotes the ability to feel completely at ease and relaxed.

Even if you shake your snow globe like crazy, you have the ability to watch it calm down and restore order, which in turn reminds you that you too have this ability.

As the chaos settles, so does your mind.

There are a few other things that have the same kind of calming effect, such as:
- Looking at a single candle light flickering
- Gazing at the setting sun over the distant horizon
- Watching the blue ocean waves crashing on the beach
- Staring at fish gently swimming in an aquarium
- Observing clouds forming and disappearing

What all of these have in common is they all convey feelings of calm motion with color that lead to inner serenity and peace.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have these things right on your desk at work?

On-demand when you needed it most?

Yes, there’s always YouTube and it definitely does come in handy on many occasions, but there’s something about having something physical in your hands that provide a kind of tactile reward that no online video clip can provide.

You can get these peaceful feelings with something called a “calm down” jar.

What Is A Calm Down Or Sensory Jar?

A calm down jar, also known as a sensory jar, is a modern update to the snow globes we all experienced in our childhood. However, instead of a wintry scene with snow, modern sensory jars use varying dramatic colors and shapes suspended in a viscous fluid.

While the overall form, design and contents are different from snow globes, sensory jars produce the same kind of calming effects.

Watch this 52-second video clip and you’ll “get it” quickly.

VIDEO: Hearts Falling Glitter Jar
YOUTUBE: Mary Catherine
LENGTH: 0:52

Feel more calm and relaxed, right?

This is what sensory or calm down jars are all about.

Therapists, teachers and parents alike all use sensory jars to help children self-regulate and soothe a variety of conditions related to stress, anxiety, fear and a host of other mental and emotional issues.

In this study by Lesley University, there were significant findings that sensory jars enabled patients with various mental illnesses to fully immerse themselves in the activity which would calm them down.

They even found that using calm down jars helped substance abuse patients going through recovery to stay on track and not fall off the wagon.

The powerful grounding effect of calm down jars allowed patients to avoid crisis situations or relapsing. It helped them be “more present in the moment” and not cave in to their cravings.

The great thing about sensory bottles is that anyone can use it. It’s not just a tool for mental health.

Sensory jars are widely used by parents to calm down their kids when they are hyper-emotional, hysterical and/or unruly. It’s more emotionally stabilizing than your standard “time-out” session.

If you find that you’re having a stressful day at work, using a sensory jar can help bring you back to a calmer state of mind. Just as meditation can.

In fact, for people that have a hard time meditating, gazing into a sensory bottle is the perfect way to settle their minds. It allows the mind to visually latch onto something rather than trying to not think about anything.

It can be just as therapeutic as traditional meditation. 

How To Make A Calming Stress Relief Jar For Work

(Credit: UntidyArtist.com)

So now that you know what these little magic jars can do for you, we bet you want one yesterday!

Well, they are insanely easy to make - like less than 5 minutes easy.

And they require no special tools. All you need is four core ingredients and a few simple everyday items. 

What You Need To Buy

Everything you need for this project can be bought easily. You’re not going to run around to fancy-schmancy art shops or anything like that.

You can hop over to Walmart, Target, Michaels, or even your local dollar store. And alternatively, you can do it from the touch of your fingertips on Amazon.

Take A Photo Of This Summary Shopping List:
1. Plastic Voss water bottle or similar
2. Extra fine glitter and glitter shapes
3. Clear glue or glitter glue
4. Super glue gel
5. Food coloring
6. Wooden BBQ skewers
7. Small funnel

1. Glass Or Plastic Bottle

In all the research we’ve done, it seems that the consensus is that plastic Voss water bottles are THE bottles to have when making your calm down jar.

The long, tall and smooth bottle works wonders to really enhance and extend the experience.

Be sure to get the plastic ones not glass.

The paint on the glass ones is impossible to remove, even with nail polish remover. The plastic ones use stick-on labels that can be easily peeled off, then you can use Goo-Gone, mineral spirits, rubbing alcohol to remove the adhesive residue.

If you can’t get plastic Voss bottles, any smooth bottle or jar (with a cap) that you have laying around at home will work.

Just keep in mind, the shorter the bottle/jar the shorter amount of time for it to settle. Long tall bottles are the best.

2. Extra Fine Glitter

The best glitter you can get for your sensory bottle is the extra fine variety.

Just like you - extra fine. 😉

However, what colors you want, is all up to you. If you find there are certain colors that help you relax more than others or please you more than others, buy those.

Keep in mind they also have glitter shapes!

This will make an excellent addition to your jar, especially if they have a few different kinds. 

3. Clear or Glitter Glue

While we’re reminiscing about snow globes, let’s reminisce about another childhood staple.

Elmer's glue. Oh, the buckets and buckets of glue we used to make all our favorite crafts.

Well now is the time to bring it back!

You can use the same brand name or any other variety, as long as it is clear glue, not the white stuff. This way it doesn’t hide the glitter and it blends better.

Glitter glue is the other option here. It’s another frequent item used to make calm-down jars. It takes care of two things at once by including the glitter pre-mixed into the glue.

4. Super Glue Gel

You will also need some super glue gel to secure and permanently seal the top. This will ensure that nothing will spill out.

Don’t buy the liquid kind as it will not work as well in preventing leaks when sealing the cap/lid. Buy the gel type instead as it doesn’t drip and run.

5. Food Coloring

If you’re using clear glue, be sure to pick up some food coloring. This will add some color and variety to the mixture.

If there’s a set that you can buy, go for that. Otherwise, pick out a few colors that will make you happy.

6. Long Skewers

It can be hard to find an object thin, long and strong enough to get through a small bottle opening to stir up your water, glue, and glitter mixture.

This is where long wooden BBQ type skewers can be really handy. They’re sturdy, thin, and long enough to reach the bottom of your bottle/jar so that you can easily stir things up.

7. Small Funnel

If you haven’t worked with glitter in a while, especially the newer extra fine kind, you’ll be in for a surprise. One little mishap spill and this shit goes everywhere and it’s so fine that it gets trapped in the tiniest of places.

Using a funnel will ensure that the glitter goes into the bottle and not all over you or everywhere else in the room.

For the guys making this, if you get any of this stuff on your hands and face, you’ll have a really hard time explaining to your wife or girlfriend where you’ve been.

So, save yourself from all the frustration and use a small funnel from the kitchen or buy one. 

How To Put It All Together

(Credit: UntidyArtist.com)

Let's take a deeper look at how to make these wonderful stress-reducing DIY thingamajiggers.

We do recommend doing this at home, not at work, as it does get a little messy.

You may find that you’ll have to play around with the recipe a little as even the littlest changes can change the way the sensory bottle performs. 

Step #1: Heat Water

The hotter the water the better. Hot water will prevent clumping when the glue and glitter are being mixed.

It doesn’t need to be boiling hot. If your hot water faucet makes water hot enough where it’s too hot to put your hands under, then that will be fine.

Otherwise, heat up some water on the stove - enough to fill the entire bottle or bottles that you plan to make.

Step #2: Pour Hot Water Into Bottle Half Full

Using a funnel here will make your life much easier and prevent any potential burns or messes.

Fill the bottle halfway up with hot water. Don’t fill any more than that.

You need to leave room to adjust the viscosity of the mixture, which determines how fast or slow the glitter swirls and drifts.

Step #3: Pour Glue Into Bottle & Mix

You are going to be needing approximately an entire glue bottle for larger bottles/jars (21 oz or 500ml and up) and approximately half for smaller bottles/jars.

As you are pouring the clear glue into the bottle, stir the mixture so that the glue dissolves completely. The mixture should be clear and consistent without any squiggly glue clumps.

Step #4: Add Food Coloring, Glitter & Swirl

Here’s the really the fun part.

Add just one or two drops of food coloring - that’s it. If you add too much the mixture will be hard to see through. The goal here is to tint the mix not turn it into a solid color.

Next, using your funnel, add the glitter, shapes and sparkles to the mixture. Add them in full tablespoon amounts.

With each tablespoon added, swirl and mix everything together with the skewer thoroughly. Don’t just dump everything in at once.

Step #5: Adjust Mix For Speed

This is the stage where you’re fine-tuning the mixture to exactly how fast or slow you want the glitter to drift, swirl and fall.

Swirl your mix with the skewer and see how things perform. Don’t cap and shake it as it causes bubbles and foam to form. Stirring is best.

If the glitter is moving too slowly, add more hot water.

If the glitter is falling to fast, add more clear glue.

If there isn’t enough glitter, add more.

With each addition of water, glue or glitter, be sure to mix thoroughly and then, see how it performs. Make any further adjustments as needed.

If the mix is perfect and you still have space or room in the bottle, add equal amounts of glue and water until the bottle is full. 

Step #6: Cap & Let It Cool Down 

Now, cap (don’t glue) the bottle and let the mixture cool down for about an hour or two.

Don’t skip this step.

As the mixture cools, any air that is trapped in the bottle will cool as well. This may cause the bottle to deform slightly due to vacuum pressure.

After it’s completely cooled down, open the cap to equalize the pressure. 

Step #7: Seal Bottle

Now you can glue the cap to the bottle.

Apply a thin line of super glue gel around the interior circumference of the cap and the top rim of the bottle.

Twist on the bottle cap tightly and allow it to set overnight.

By the next day, you’ll have your very own calm down jar that you can bring to work.

Here’s a quick 3-minute video that highlights the above steps. They include glycerin in their recipe but it’s not needed. The clear glue provides enough thickness.

VIDEO: DIY How To Make A Glitter Jar
YOUTUBE: Emilie Lefler
LENGTH: 2:58

Alternative Option: Mineral Oil (Baby Oil)

One alternative to using hot water and clear glue is to use mineral oil or baby oil only. They’re both the same thing. The only difference is that baby oil is scented.

This makes the process simpler in the sense that you don’t have to mess with fine-tuning the thickness of the mix.

Here’s the quick run-down of the process:

1. Fill up the bottle with mineral oil to about ¾ full.

2. Add your preferred amount of glitter and shapes.

3. Fill up any remaining space with mineral oil and cap the jar.


Just be aware that mineral oil is going to be thicker than the glue-water mixture. And, you can’t adjust the thickness like you can with the glue-water.

So, it’s best to use coarse glitter and bigger or heavier shapes. If you use extra fine glitter in mineral oil, it will stay suspended in the oil for a long, long time.

Next, mineral oil can’t be tinted with food coloring. Food coloring is water-soluble so it won’t mix with oil. You need oil-based dyes to tint mineral oil, which isn’t as readily available like food coloring.

So, if you’re okay with or want to have clear fluid only in your bottle, mineral oil can work for you.

Using mineral oil is best for sensory bottles that have standard or coarse glitter and a lot of other heavier glitter objects.

When there’s a lot of variety going on in the bottle, the fluid doesn’t need to play a part in the experience as much.

Using A Calm Down Jar At Work

Emails overflowing your inbox?
Your boss not happy with you?
Asshole coworkers pissing you off?
Scrambling to meet this today’s deadlines?
Your computer not cooperating?

Whenever it feels like stress and anxiety are starting to overwhelm you, it’s time to take action before they get the upper hand.

A certain level of stress is actually good for you. When stress levels match your capacity and ability, it keeps us on our toes, gets us “in the zone” and drives us to focus.

It’s what we call “productive happiness” at work.

However, when the demands and challenges of work exceed our skill sets and available resources, we get stressed out and begin to retreat, which makes things worse.

It’s at this tipping point, the moment when everything is starting to crash in on you, that you need to take a mental breather, and maybe even a physical break.

This is the moment that you grab your calm down bottle and shake the shit out of it. Burn that built up stress energy by converting it into physical movement.

Then, put it back down on your desk and watch all the chaos in the bottle.

It’s like all the madness that’s happening at work at that moment. So many things moving in all different directions. It’s all your thoughts racing around in your head.

But within a few minutes, you notice the start of something. All that chaos is starting to slow down and drift toward the bottom of the bottle.

Your mind is beginning to do likewise.

It’s focused on the movement in the bottle and as the glitter is transitioning from chaos to calm, it’s holding your mind’s hand and leading it down the same path.

Within five minutes, your mind is far more settled and relaxed than it was before.

This is a total game-changer. 

The Positive Effects Of Using A Sensory Bottle

The main benefits of a calm-down jar are focusing and directing your mind to be “in the moment” and slowing down all the craziness that’s racing around in your head.

From this main benefit, there are other positive side effects you’ll experience. 

A) Puts You In A Meditative State

Meditation is the key to a long life, or so they say.

If you’re anything like the majority of us though, sitting still and finding peace without letting noise or thoughts disturb you, is never going to happen.

You can skip all this by staring into a sensory bottle. Fundamentally, it’s the same thing as meditation. It doesn’t even feel like meditation, but you’ll be reaping many of the same benefits. 

B) Reduces Blood Pressure

Nothing spikes your blood pressure like a good dose of anger, anxiety, and frustration.

Luckily, gazing into a glitter jar for a few minutes can actually lower your blood pressure by stimulating genes that produce telomerase, which help reduce blood pressure. 

C) Induces Optimism

By taking some glitter time to yourself, you’re actually training yourself to become optimistic, patient, and overall more positive.

It’s one of the main overlooked effects of a calm down jar.

Watching the chaos ensue and knowing that it will come to a peaceful end has a direct impact on how you react to other items in your life.

With the ability to see the light at the end of the tunnel, you’re able to separate yourself from the chaos ensuing and know that things will settle. 

D) Lifts Your Mood

Put simply, sensory bottles just make you feel good. They’re just like snow globes, only better.

Often times, work can put you in the shittiest of moods, but with just one quick shake of a glitter jar, all the BS just seems to fade away for just those few minutes of time. 

Try It ​Right Now...

We know that you’re probably at work reading this and you can’t actually make your own calm down jar at the moment.

But, you need some relief right now.

We got you covered.

Put on your headphones and watch this 4-minute video of a purple calm down jar. It’ll do the trick until you make your own this week.

As you listen to the sounds of rain and background music, gaze at the glitter drifting downward and breathe slowly and deeply. Your focused relaxation will be rewarded with sunflowers and a tree in the background.

VIDEO: Calming Bottle in a Video - the Glitterfall
YOUTUBE: How to ADHD
LENGTH: 4:24

Feeling a bit better now, right?

It’s just like when you were a kid playing with the snow globe.

Your mind unplugs from the real world and just relaxes as it watches glittery flakes floating and drifting about. You’re off in la-la-land and zoned out in blissful calmness.

But, don’t rely on your memory of Christmas’ past or online videos when you can have the real deal, right at your fingertips at work.

And when work is cranking up the pressure and the stress is mounting, you’ll have an instant antidote with the calm down jar.

Feel Better,
[Cubicle|Therapy]