Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been sharing my experiences of writing a Wellness Recovery Action Plan to support my mental health. In Part 1, I shared what a W.R.A.P. is and why it’s useful as well as how to create a wellness toolbox. In Part 2, I wrote about making a detailed list of adjectives to describe what you are like when you are feeling well and also how to make a maintenance plan of every day activities that help to keep you well. This week, the focus is on triggers and how to cope with them, plus creating a list of early warning signs of deteriorating mental health. Obviously, this is very personal to you as an individual but I hope by sharing some of my lists you get the idea so you can have a go at making your own.
Triggers (AKA Stressors)
Triggers in your life are external events or circumstances that make you feel uncomfortable. They can include situations in your work or personal life that you know tend to stress you out or upset you. Writing these triggers down won’t stop them from happening, but it can help us put coping methods and action plans in place for dealing with the emotions that are felt.
The following are some examples of my triggers so you can get the idea for making your own list:
spending too much time alone
criticism from others
being overly tired
making a mistake
not being listened to
change to routine
packing to go on holiday
mental health themes in TV dramas
feeling left out
being wrongly judged
My coping methods / action plan
Do everything on my daily maintenance plan – keep routines going
Pick out some activities from my wellness toolbox
Talk to a supportive person about what has happened
Turn negative self talk into positive
Use mindfulness techniques
Do some soothing rhythm breathing
Focus on tasks that are easy to do
Make lists e.g. a packing list for holidays
Early Warning Signs
For this part of the WRAP plan, you make a list of signs that tell you and others that you’re not feeling mentally well. This helps friends and family to look for signs of deterioration and is also good for sharing with medical professionals. For me personally, I have different signs depending on whether I’m starting to become depressed or anxious or developing hypermania.
Signs of depression and anxiety
loss of appetite / comfort eating
feeling tearful over things that wouldn’t usually affect me
lack of motivation
feeling tired even after lots of sleep
want to be alone
feeling worthless / helpless
Signs of hypomania
constant talking – unable to switch off
mind in overdrive
spending lots of money to fix things
flick from one task to another in a bid to get it all done
Coping methods / action plan
Do relaxation exercises – meditation, yoga etc.
Pick out some activities from my wellness tools
Tell someone I trust how I feel
Do everything on my daily maintenance list
Seek medical help
Get some exercise
Ask for support with household tasks
Challenge negative thoughts
Celebrate small achievements
Although I found these tasks difficult to do at the time as I was living with the depression and anxiety symptoms, I do think they are really useful lists to make. I also found it beneficial to talk with others about coping methods and get ideas from them too.
I hope you are finding these posts informative and useful. I really recommend creating your own WRAP either by yourself or with a loved one or therapist. Sitting down and really thinking about yourself and what you are like at different times can really help. Also if you can feel yourself becoming stressed or unwell, you can put things in place to help prevent you from becoming worse.
Of course, the current situation with the virus is a huge source of stress and worry so, now more than ever, we need to look after ourselves and ensure self care activities are high on our agenda. A lot of our routines and aspects of our daily lives have changed beyond our control and for many, this will be one of your main triggers so make sure you put things in place to help you cope.
Until next time, stay home and stay safe and well,