If you have a chronic physical condition, your doctor will most likely recommend some form of action plan. For example, physicians recommend that every person who has asthma have an action plan for maintaining healthy respiratory function and every person who has diabetes have an action plan for maintaining healthy blood glucose levels. These plans support both the person who has the chronic illness and those who may need to help them, such as caregivers, schools, or first responders.
What’s in these plans? They usually feature signs that the person is well, at risk, or in danger. They might include a list of environmental factors, or activities to avoid or closely monitor, and a set of instructions on what to do when things are getting worse. And finally, they probably instruct other people about what to do in case they must step in in an emergency.
Sound familiar? If you have a WRAP, these action plans for chronic physical conditions probably sound a whole lot like what’s in your WRAP. If you want to get the most out of your WRAP and an action plan for a chronic physical condition, it’s very helpful to make sure your action plans are linked because physical and emotional health go hand in hand. For example, stress can affect the blood glucose levels of a person living with diabetes, and respiratory difficulties can cause stress for a person with asthma.
Most action plans for physical conditions—unlike WRAPs—are standardized, with blanks for specifying medications or dosages. Medical professionals and first responders are familiar and comfortable with the format of these action plans. Sometimes, though, we need to modify them to our individual needs. For years, diabetes action plans recommended following fast-acting sugar with a peanut butter sandwich to treat low blood sugar—something that could be deadly for someone with peanut allergies. Before you go too far “off script” combining action plans, make sure your doctor is comfortable with any changes you make that address your emotional wellness.
WRAP for Life offers lots of great ideas for balancing your physical health and your emotional wellbeing. It even offers some sample WRAPs for people in various situations, like quitting smoking, controlling weight, aging in a healthy manner, and managing diabetes. Have you combined your WRAP with action plans for other conditions? Share your expertise on our Facebook page!
Alan Marzilli, J.D., M.A., is a senior writer/program associate at Advocates for Human Potential (AHP). His work focuses primarily on homelessness, mental health and substance use disorder services, cannabis regulation, and employment services.