Making an “Alternatives” Jar
For anybody with issues with binge eating, purging, and/or self-harm (or any other type of urge), an “alternatives” jar is a good project! It is a jar filled with popsicle sticks that have things written on them that you can do when your urge hits, as an alternative to the urge.
- A glass jar (I used a small 8 oz old jar that I had left from a jar of jam- you can get these for $1 in some places with the jam)
- Popsicle sticks (I used 70 regular-sized ones from a pack of 1,000 craft sticks that I bought for $5)
- Markers (I used Bic Mark-It Permanent Markers, but any other marker should work, even dollar-store markers)
- Paints, as many colors as you want (I used Apple Barrel brand acrylic paints, which run for $0.50-$0.57 per 2 oz container at Wal Mart).
- Paint brushes to use for the paints (I used Plaid brand sponge brushes, which I got for $1 for 4, and a pack of 24 different brushes which were $5 each)
- Ribbons and washi (decorative/paper) tape ($0.50-$3.50 per roll, however you want)
Items 4-6 are optional! You can use as much or as little paint as you want. You should only need one bottle if you are doing one color; however, you may want more!
- Gather your materials :) (not too hard!)
- Decide how many sticks your jar will hold. Mine held 70 craft sticks; some can hold more!
- Decide how many colors you want to use, and if you want the colors to mean anything.
- Paint the craft sticks!! Do this on a surface easily cleaned, thrown away, or that you don’t mind getting messy! I used a lid from a plastic tote. You can either put the paints on a palette (if you have one), or dab it onto the sponge brushes and then paint.
- Let your painted sticks dry.
- While you are letting them dry, you can decorate your jar. Some permanent markers work on glass; others don’t. You can try them though! Acrylic paints don’t always work on glass, also. I used washi tape and ribbons, using a hot glue gun to attach the ribbons to the jar. The tape and ribbons can be removed from the jar if I so choose (so that way I can re-use the jar or re-decorate if I want to)
- Once the sticks dry, write on them!!
Ideas for how to use color:
You can see that I used 7 colors, each with 10 sticks. Colors can be used to denote:
- Type of urge (especially useful if you have multiple types)
- Type of emotion behind the urge or activity (feeling sad, guilty, angry, lonely, wanting sensation, etc)
- Amount of time the activity takes (5 min, 10 min, 15 min, 30 min, 1 hr, over 1 hr)
- Amount of money you’d have to invest (ie, totally free things, things you can spend $1 on, things you’d have to spend $5 on, etc)
How to use:
- When your urge hits, pick a color or colors to represent what you need. For example: red for me are things to get anger out, so if I’m wanting to purge because I am angry, I will choose the red sticks.
- Pick one stick of that color. Do that activity, and put the stick to the side. If, after you’re done with the activity, the urge is still there, pick another stick.
- Keep choosing sticks until the urge is gone (or you have other things you have to do)
- If the urge hasn’t gone away, but you are done with your sticks: choose another color and keep going.
Ideas for what to write on your sticks
- 101 things to do besides binge
- More binge alternatives
- Alternatives to binge eating/purging
- Alternatives to self-harm
- More alternatives to self-harm
Idea based off of: Coping Bank and Binge Jar