Perhaps because of my aspergers or perhaps just because of my personality, I am a very sentimental person. Each letter that has been written to me is kept in a bundle with similar notes. My room is filled with figurines and pictures drawn for me are taped across my walls. These help me to remember people who touched my life and helped me along the difficult journey of life.
However, having too much clutter will not bring back helpful memories. Instead, you will be overwhelmed, frustrated with yourself, or simply not be able to see what what you need. That is why putting certain items into memory boxes can be a helpful coping skill.
First of all, choose an event or time period for which you want to collect items. You can do this for a vacation, anniversary, birthday, graduation, wedding, baby’s birth, or other special event. If you do not have a certain event in mind, do it for a year or two. Most people would probably want to think of a pleasant time period. However, you can also choose to create this for a difficult time of growth. For example, I have a box to remember Oxford (a very happy time) and one for living in residential treatment (a difficult but intense period of change). Both are healing for me and helpful in different ways. Decide what you need in the moments as well as what would be encouraging in the future.
Secondly, find a container that works well for your memory box. Despite the name, this does not necessarily need to be a box. A bag, drawer, bucket, corner of a room, filing cabinet, or scrapbook can work too. I have found the most success with boxes though. Any shape and type that you want can work with this project. You can choose to find a sturdy one or use your artistic skills to decorate it. However, a simple shoe box can certainly work.
Then, you need to start putting mementos into your container. Whatever fits inside can be used, and larger items can be “added” by putting in a photograph of them. Here are a few ideas of common things to put in the memory box:
- Coins from another country
- Dried flowers or leaves
- Letters, notes, cards, or emails
- Party decorations
- Shells or stones
- Ticket stubs
- Wrapping paper
This is just a beginning of a list for you to think about and continue to add to as you make your own memory boxes. Hopefully, you will find this a time of joy and inspiration as you look to the past to find hope for the future and the growth you have made to be in the present.
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