Your Wellness Toolbox, the first step in creating your Wellness Recovery Action Plan, is the cornerstone of your WRAP which consists of many, many tools for you to rely on.
Sometimes, in my search for Wellness Tools, I am held back by preconceived notions about what might work for me and things that seem silly or strange. I am noticing that the older I get, the more contact I have with people who think outside of the box, and the more I focus on how things feel and less how they might look to others, or whether their effectiveness has ever been proven scientifically, the more great Wellness Tools I come up with that really serve me. Now if something is simple, safe, non-invasive, works for some other people, and doesn’t cost much, I consider giving it a try. In doing that, I have come up with many more Wellness Tools, some that work particularly well for me in situations of acute stress, anxiety over the state of the world, and as I deal with issues related to aging.
Let me share an example. Years ago, a good friend, a medical doctor, tried to convince me that walking a labyrinth would help me feel better and might even keep me feeling well and more content with my life. I tried it but I was so skeptical I really couldn’t notice anything from it. And when people have mentioned it to me from time to time, I have either ignored them or pooh-poohed the whole idea. Lately I have had some opportunities to visit with this doctor again after many years. We talked again about the labyrinth. And this time it somehow felt right to me. I began tracing the labyrinth paths with my fingers on a small wooden labyrinth and the more I did that, the more peaceful I felt. He gave me an article he had written about the labyrinth and some copies of labyrinths on paper. I read the paper and continued to play around, following the labyrinth paths with my fingers on the paper. And guess what, the labyrinth has become a Wellness Tool for me. Even just on paper. I am going to make it a point to visit a friend who has a labyrinth in her yard that I can walk.
This doctor shared with me, almost embarrassingly, another Wellness Tool he has discovered. Sometimes he likes to wear very feminine colors. And he feels tempted to even try wearing a skirt. He is older now and feels like his feminine side is coming through and that acknowledging that helps him feel better day to day. I began thinking about that myself. What I wear certainly affects the way I feel. But I tend to be more conservative in what I wear; having been taught that it is not good to “stand out too much” when I was a kid. But I think, with encouragement from my friend the doctor, family and friends, I might be a bit more outlandish in my dress, and enjoy it.
When I first started thinking about Wellness Tools, and things that help me feel better and things I love to do, in those days when I first began doing this work, I couldn’t think of very many Wellness Tools. So I began thinking about some of the things I enjoyed doing when I was a kid. One thing that came to mind was paper dolls. When I was a young girl, I loved to cut out paper dolls. I decided to try it again. I found books of paper dolls on-line and ordered some. Then I spent some time cutting out paper dolls. I really enjoyed it for a while. It didn’t last but it was fun for a time, a good Wellness Tool that served a purpose. Sometime I might try it again.
A friend of mine, Patti Bitney Starke, says: “I take a 20 minute pause first thing when I get home from work. It gives me the opportunity to catch my breath, get on comfy clothes and get an icy lemonade. Then I join the family and am relaxed and centered.”
I asked Facebook friends about their “out of the box”, unusual or innovative Wellness Tools and got more ideas. Perhaps some of them will work for you?
Here are some of their responses:
Ronald says: “Genealogy, though when my computer died recently I knew I needed some meaningful activity, so I asked a friend to teach my how to crochet. I am making an afghan to support another wellness tool- naps!”
Cynthia says: “Ironing… I know, but it’s ironing.”
Shirley says: “Thanks to my grandson, I’m now enjoying fun time with Sandy, my temporary house guest. Sandy is my grandson’s bearded lizard dragon. Susie, my daughter, has two boxers that are Wellness Tools for her. It was after house sitting for my daughter’s dogs that I realized how much I would enjoy a dog. Since then I have had two dogs and they have been terrific Wellness Tools.”
Ann says: “Listening to uplifting songs on my earphones. It has to be on earphones connected to my iPad so its close to my brain and i focus on it.”
Teresa said: “I color…a lot! It calms me and centers me. I feel so much better after I finish a picture!” (Others said the same thing—sometimes using a coloring book)
Other great Wellness Tool ideas include:
- Obstacle course racing!!
- Roller derby!
- Shooting pool
- Watching the WWE Network
- Embroidering (Coja said “while watching soccer”)
- Lighting a candle
- Looking up quotes about hope
- Listening to inspirational music
- Deep breathing
- A worry stone
- Yoga and deep breathing-outside
- Making others laugh
- Reading fairy-tales from my childhood
- Doing my nails
- Cooking shows
- A hot shower
- An ice pack on my neck and shoulders
Mary Ellen Copeland, PhD, developed Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) with a group of people with lived experience who were attending a mental health recovery workshop in 1997. She is the original author of the WRAP Red Book, as well as dozens of other WRAP books and materials. She has dedicated the last 30 years of her life to learning from people who have mental health issues; discovering the simple, safe, non-invasive ways they get well, stay well, and move forward in their lives; and then sharing what she has learned with others through keynote addresses, trainings, and the development of books, curriculums, and other resources. Now that she is retired, and that, as she intended, others are continuing to share what she has learned, she continues to learn from those who have mental health issues and those who support them. She is a frequent contributor to this site.