Teens: Start The New Year Off With A Plan – Part One

If 2014 was a difficult year, with full of intense emotions, triggers, or not doing well in school, perhaps you want to create a way to make life easier in 2015. Maybe you’d like a way to better manage your feelings, thoughts, and choices so that this year is lighter, healthier, and happier.


It’s certainly possible to do this. In fact, there are many ways to make your inner experience better to manage. However, one that many counselors, therapists, and psychologists use is the Wellness Recovery Action Plan, developed by Mary Ellen Copeland.


The Wellness Recovery Action Plan, or WRAP for short, has many components to it. Each one playing an essential role in helping you stay well. Whether you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or addiction, WRAP might be the precise tool you need.


What’s great about WRAP is that it’s created entirely by you. So, there’s no teacher, parent, counselor, or therapist telling you this is what you need. You’re the creator and the designer of your own plan.  Of course, being the designer of your own mental health plan means that you can change it any time you like. When something is not working, when you notice your symptoms of depression showing up and your plan didn’t help the way you thought it would, then you can make adjustments to it.


WRAP has seven major components. The first three are listed here, and the remaining four are listed in the second part to this article.


  • Wellness Toolbox – The Wellness Toolbox is the first part of the plan to create. It’s essentially pulling together all the tools you know work for you when you’re starting to feel your symptoms. For instance, you might make a list that includes listening to music, spending time in nature, breathing, spending time with family, yoga, getting some rest, and exercising. Remember that your toolbox is not going to look like someone else’s. The Wellness Toolbox includes all those tools that you know work well for you and that support your well being.


  • Daily Maintenance Plan  – Sometimes it’s the small things that can really make a difference. Little by little those small things add up, cumulatively creating a life that feels good or not so good. For instance, let’s say you recognize that your feelings are more manageable when you have positive relationships with your parents. The Daily Maintenance Plan includes all those tools and activities you know you need to do every day in order to stay healthy and happy. For instance, let’s say you know that when you don’t get enough sleep, you start to get irritable and your symptoms of anxiety really start to flair up. So, one of the items in your Daily Maintenance Plan would be to get 8-9 hours of sleep every night, or how ever amount of hours you need. Your Daily Maintenance Plan is also unique to you. In addition to getting the right amount of sleep, it might be eating three meals per day, exercising, and spending time with family. The Daily Maintenance Plan includes the tools you need each day of your life in order to stay well.


  • Identifying Triggers and an Action Plan – The next essential part to WRAP is to identify your triggers. What are the unique situations and circumstances that really get you upset or depressed or manic? Perhaps you feel depressed when you’re left out or perhaps you feel angry when your parents try to control your life. Whatever it is, make a list of what your triggers are. Then, once you’ve got a good list, then identify what alternatives you have those situations so that you don’t act out and make a poor choice, like turning to drugs or drinking. For instance, if you know that you get depressed when


Typically, at the start of a new year, everyone is coming up with a new way of living their life better, healthier, and more in line with their goals. And perhaps this is you too. If you’re interested in the remaining four parts to WRAP, look for the second part of this article.