Wellbeing activities to help body and mind for my WRAP plan?
December 29, 2018 8:34 PM   Subscribe

I have spent too much of 2018 lying in bed listening to music and having days with nothing to show for them (I have bipolar disorder type 1 which mostly presents as low moods rather than high). To make things better in 2019 I am trying to get ideas for wholesome activities to give me a menu of options. I am using the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) format to do this, but basically if y'all could look at my current list and add ones which have helped you that would be great. Thanks!

This is the appropriate section from my WRAP which I am looking to enhance with new options for things which would help me feel good and manage my low mood.

In my experience these are things that support my wellness – this works for me:
• Attending Glasgow Mental Health Support Group (a Meetup.com peer-led group)
• Attending my local church wellbeing centre or Spanish conversation group, or other social contact in general when I feel able to such as meets with people from a social anxiety chatroom
• Getting sufficient sleep. Ideally uninterrupted sleep or lying in a darkened room (8 hours sleep)
• Having a few things in my diary to look forward to, by keeping an eye out on possible films or concerts to book tickets for, or monitoring the wellbeing centre web site for events
• Always complying with medications prescribed and making sure I have stock of them
• Drinking tea to get in a relaxed state, while not drinking caffeine such as coffee too late in the day. Just sitting with the tea and taking a pause.
• Sitting up at the laptop when chatting to online friends rather than lying in bed and doing the chatting on my smartphone
• When I have been able to access it, attending counselling sessions.
• Reading a wellbeing related magazine such as Psychologies or a book (if concentration permits) and just enjoying the “me time” aspect of that without pressuring myself to put the magazine advice into practice.
• Listen to Audible audiobooks with calming voices, or public radio such as NPR or CBC.ca
• Not eating too much sugar or consuming too much caffeine (although sometimes going to a local café is a way to get me out of the house which I believe is a good thing)
• Going out for five minutes of fresh air to settle if at a social event
• Good interactions with other people, ideally in person, but over IRC chat or e-mail or with Facebook if that is all that’s available
• Attending very basic adult education classes where I can mix with others in a structured setting.
• Enjoying music at home whether on Spotify or online radio stations
• I find it very hard to get started, but if I accomplish washing myself or cleaning/ tidying the flat I do feel better for it.

This seems quite a long list but sometimes I feel my days are a bit "rinse and repeat" and I am doing the same things all the time hence I would very much welcome input and new ideas!
posted by AuroraSky to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
I find craft projects really scratch the itch of "achieving something", which can really make me feel effective and give me something to look forward to. For me it's cross stitch, embroidery, and crochet- I like projects where I am just following the directions or pattern, rather than designing my own thing. I often listen to podcasts while I'm doing them- it's a good way to chill out and kind of focus my mind.

As far as social interaction, I enjoy sending and receiving mail. I do this through the low-pressure but fun Mefi Card Club. I also enjoy volunteer activities. The downside of this is that some places may require a certain number of hours or a certain time commitment, which is difficult if you can't commit to always being up to heading out for an activity. But if you find the right place, they will be happy to see you whenever you make it in, and not mind if your schedule varies a little. Like, for me, there are several local food banks that will take drop-in volunteers to sort food on any given day, no questions asked, no expectations that they'll see you again the next week. Or, I volunteer at a museum, where the staff is always happy to see me.

I don't have bipolar, I just work a part-time job from home and have struggled a little with anxiety/depression and find it good to have excuses to see people and build some structure into my days. So hopefully some of this will be useful to you. The stuff you already have in your list sounds really good too!
posted by Secretariat at 8:48 PM on December 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

This list looks great to me; I'll probably borrow a few things from it myself. This year, I committed myself to making my bed every day, and I was surprised at the difference it made in my mood. I also kept a daily journal of things I was grateful for or that made me happy, which was another small, positive nudge.

> Enjoying music at home whether on Spotify or online radio stations

Seconding this -- I live alone and silence can be overbearing. If you're into classical or folk music, you might like the WFMT livestream: https://www.wfmt.com/listen/live-stream/
posted by guybrush_threepwood at 9:07 PM on December 29, 2018 [3 favorites]

This list looks like a great starting point. I love the Greater Good Science Center; their site has lots of info on keys to wellbeing that might give you even more ideas!
posted by diffuse at 9:37 PM on December 29, 2018

Would a low key project of taking up a musical instrument work? I was able to get started playing guitar (last year in my mid 40s) from lessons on youtube. I don't ever expect to be great at it, but I enjoy the ritual of practicing every day and slowly getting better and expanding my skills over time. Harmonica, ukelele, recorder, something like that?
posted by latkes at 10:46 PM on December 29, 2018

Greetings, cousin! I have bipolar not otherwise specified and about 38 kinds of anxiety disorders. I'm also homebound due to physical disability.

I'll give a super duper crazy loud second to crafts. I primarily do English Paper Piecing quilting (all with hexagons), because I can carry a chunk of the work around with me to doctor's appointments, and do as little or much as I want. If all I do is baste one hexie, I have adultingly arted and can call it a win. I also have cross stitch projects in the works, and am in the middle of my second large-scale adult coloring collage.

Humor also helps when I'm in low places. I can watch funny animal videos on YouTube for days. I especially like the goats. Funny goats, fainting goats, goats who sound like humans, they just crack me up. I also like Who's Line Is It Anyway - mostly in the Drew Carey era, Ellen DeGeneres, and Iliza Shlesinger.

And my final suggestion is finding a way to help other people. After a month or so as a member on 7 Cups of Tea, I took the test to become a Listener - a peer counselor who uses active listening to help other members work through their stuff. Mental illness makes up a large part of the site, but there are also sections for LBGTQ+ issues, chronic illness, and other life stuff.

That link is my referral link, but all I get are points. And if you've ever watched Who's Line, you'll know that everything is made up, and the points don't matter.

Seriously, the points are just, y'know, points.

posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 11:52 PM on December 29, 2018 [4 favorites]

What about some sort of very gentle, low pressure movement of your body? I *love* Yoga With Adriene - there are a ton of great videos free on YouTube and she’s very big about finding what feels good and congratulating yourself for just showing up to try the video. She has several five minute quick videos that would be a very low-commitment way to start.
posted by bananacabana at 11:56 PM on December 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Forest bathing or, more simply, go for a walk in nature.

I can’t speak for bipolar but it works wonders for my anxiety and even if not therapeutic in and of itself it is a wonderfully healthy thing to do.
posted by lydhre at 3:09 AM on December 30, 2018 [5 favorites]

When I was feeling really shitty at one point I liked doing puzzles (you can see your progress, but they don't take the sort of energy that crafting does.)

Also in general I like the hack of "I will just pick one thing I need to do and do it today and it's OK if that's my only goal." It could be small like washing the dishes in the sink or mailing a letter or picking up all the dirty laundry on my floor--things that seem minor, but if I don't make an easy goal like that everything swirls around overwhelming me and I do zero things.
posted by needs more cowbell at 7:39 AM on December 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seconding the possibility of some kind of regular time where you move your body - walking, yoga, whatever you can manage. I have a really simple 10 minute yoga video I do from YouTube and it takes no time and has no complicated moves but makes a significant difference to how I feel (happy to share if it’s of interest).

And perhaps dealing with periods of relaxation by pencilling in concrete periods of time for it, so that you can enjoy deliberate downtime rather than feel bad about it because you suspect it’s depressed and unmotivated downtime. Half a day at the weekend, for example, you know you’ll spend on the sofa listening to audiobooks, and at the end you get up and go do something different. Makes you really enjoy and luxuriate in that time.
posted by penguin pie at 3:01 PM on December 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yes, please share the video pigeon pie! Thanks everyone for many helpful answers so far, they have given me a lot to think about.
posted by AuroraSky at 4:03 PM on December 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

It’s this one (it’s labelled as 15 mins, but by the time you skip over her demonstrating three different ways to step to the front of the mat, it’s about 10!).

There’s also this longer version which I’ve found particularly good for anxiety, and if you look up Kathleen Holm’s channel there are others there, too. Best of luck!
posted by penguin pie at 5:07 PM on December 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

Late to the party, but I suggest googling "Pleasurable Activities" for lists of enjoyable things (designed for use in depression treatment). Not all of the ideas will be wholesome or doable for you, but I found that they gave me a lot of options for figuring out what would work for me personally.
posted by momus_window at 9:46 AM on December 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

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