I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but these grey days of November can really create a dip in my mood.
Perhaps it’s the shock of not seeing the sun for days. We all need something to counteract the gloom of the oncoming winter.
A while back I went with a young friend to a session called Wellness Recovery Assistance Program or WRAP. The workshop was at a mood disorder clinic and some people in the group had experienced mental health breakdowns.
WRAP is “… a self-designed prevention and wellness process that anyone can use to get well, stay well and make their life the way they want it to be. It was developed in 1997 by a group of people who were searching for ways to overcome their own mental health issues and move on to fulfilling their life dreams and goals. It is now used extensively by people in all kinds of circumstances, and by health care and mental health systems all over the world to address all kinds of physical, mental health and life issues.” Taken from Mental Health Recovery.
The first step of WRAP is the Daily Maintenance Plan. We all had to write down a description of ourselves when we’re feeling on top of our game – when things are flowing well and going in a positive direction, we have the energy we need and are focused.
The second part of the Daily Maintenance Plan is the tools we need to use every day to maintain wellness. For me, exercise is definitely on that list and having a giggle with friends. For others, it’s watching a funny video or whistling or getting up early.
The last list is things that give us comfort on any day – like singing, or meditating or petting your cat or dog. There are no limits to the activities that can give you joy.
As we know, things don’t always go smoothly. You have a fight with your kid, a salesperson was rude or your boss criticizes your work. These events are triggers that can set you on a downward spiral.
It’s then that you can you use the tools to bring comfort and a feeling of reassurance that this difficult time will pass. It helps distract you from the problems.
The WRAP plan continues to other stages, but I found just knowing and making a habit of the activities that bring me joy also provides a security blanket. I can tell when I haven’t had enough time for fun, or I forget about exercising. I begin to feel heavy.
The great concept with WRAP is that by itemizing and knowing what gives you joy or creates happiness, you can stop your slide into complacency. You can see when you’re slipping into habits or situations that keep you away from what you enjoy.
So to be happy, have your list of joyful things handy where you can see it. Write them down on a sticky note and stick the list on your computer or bathroom mirror. Make sure you check off at least one thing a day that gives you pleasure. That way, no matter how gloomy the weather or situation, you can do something that brings you joy.
What brings you joy?