This blog post appears on Mindfulness Garden Games website, and was written by Joann Calabrese. Joann is a consultant and WRAP Facilitator for The Network, in addition to her work at The Gathering Place and most important roles as Mom and Grandma.
It’s impossible to be on the planet for any length of time and not have health or life challenges of one sort or another. It’s a tough planet. And that is what makes the Wellness Recovery Action Plan® (WRAP®) a valuable tool for everyone. I completed my WRAP® Facilitator training just three weeks ago and I’m excited to introduce the idea to more people through my work with the Colorado Mental Wellness Network. 1
The WRAP® was originally created by Mary Ellen Copeland for people with a mental health diagnosis, but WRAP® is so practical and beneficial that it is being used by people dealing with physical health and other life challenges. 2
The beauty of WRAP® is that it is a self-designed plan. It is not the endless stream of “you should” that we might find at many well meaning websites on health. Certainly we want to take in that information if it is well documented, but each of us is unique and so ideally our plan will be unique. We take the time to identify what is really working for us and we add those things to our toolbox.
One of the things I love about WRAP® is the section that asks us to describe how we feel when we are well. What does optimal health feel like and look like for us? It’s often easier to point to how we feel when not well, but defining wellness in positive feeling terms provides a clear baseline. Once we have that clear picture of wellness, we can begin to identify all the tools that help us maintain that place.
The information on writing a WRAP® can be ordered from the Mental Health Recovery website and there is also a way to write an online wrap through the website. Ideally though it is helpful to go to a class as so many ideas are shared and discussed. The class becomes a place for brainstorming about wellness tools and a great place of support.
The richness of being in a class setting was highlighted for me during the facilitator training. Although the focus of this training was on facilitation skills, we of course talked about WRAP® and wellness tools. I learned a lot from my fellow participants and gained new ideas to add to my plan. And the training itself was a lot of fun. It made me realize there are whole days that go by when I am so absorbed in work that I don’t laugh or have much fun. So that is now on my “do every day list”. Fortunately in the Internet Age, I can always find something funny to watch or listen to.
You might be thinking that this all sounds very basic and that many people accomplish this without a written plan. My own experience tells me that taking the time to sit down and write a plan establishes more awareness of what works and what doesn’t and a commitment on my part about using the tools I’ve identified. It also allows for new ideas and insights to percolate and surface. And wellness may feel easy during periods of calm, but it is good to have a plan in place for every day stressors, life transitions, physical and mental health issues, and anything life throws at us. If you are looking for a wellness tool that can be used across the whole spectrum of health and wellbeing, WRAP® could be for you.
*Bristol cone pine trees, in the picture above, survive and thrive at 5,000-10,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains, some live for thousands of years. Obviously they have figured out how to stay well!
1 Colorado Mental Wellness Network (CMWN) is a peer-run nonprofit organization founded and operated by individuals who live with a mental health condition. CMWN is committed to providing individuals with tools and self-help information to achieve their goals while changing community perceptions of mental
2 For more information on WRAP® , finding a class or obtaining the resources to write your own WRAP®, check out Mary Ellen Copeland’s official website There are many free resources on the site and the book WRAP®, for Life, on using WRAP® for any life issue, is available there as well.