Friday, May 20, 2016

Mental Health Series - Using a Coping Box

I don't like using medication like an anti-anxiety pill to help me through an upsetting episode like an anxiety attack, panic attack, depression cycle, or even a manic episode. Sometimes, I'd much rather find other ways to cope. So, through trial and error, I've come up with a solution. I call it my "Coping Box" and I've filled it with items that are specific to me that will help keep me calm, distracted, and hopeful.

If you think hard about your episodes and what you can do for your own personal mental health, you might find that there are some similar items you could put in your Coping Box.

I used a 32 quart storage container for my box. And, for fun, I put sticky letters on the outside, spelling "Coping Box" to give it some legitimacy.

Then, I thought about what would comfort me and help distract me during any type of episode.

I like to read magazines about gardens, landscaping, household tips, storage space, and the like, so I included some magazines. You can always rotate out any you've read and put in others that you'd like to read.

So, here is a list of what is in my Coping Box.

  1. Magazines
  2. Word Search or other Word Puzzle Books
  3. Journal
  4. Bible
  5. Inspirational Books
  6. Bubbles
  7. Snacks
  8. Stress Ball
  9. Tissues
  10. Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP)
  11. Pens, Pencils, Highlighters, Sticky Notes
  13. Coloring Books
  14. Devotional Books
  15. Crayons
  16. Colored Pencils
  17. Affirmations
  18. "Taming Your Gremlin" by Rick Carson
  19. A distracting fiction book

This is the progression of adding each of the items.

 I chose a couple of different Word Puzzle books. I like the Word Search Puzzles best.
 I put in a journal that I usually take to the hospital if I'm hospitalized for any length of time due to a major episode. It helps me keep track of my thoughts during the episode, the treatment, and after.
This is the Bible I chose, because it's a Study Bible. I enjoy doing research and learning more than just the scriptures.
 I threw in a variety of inspirational, devotional, and helpful books that will encourage me and distract me.
You have to make your fun any way you can, and for me, the most basic way is by blowing bubbles. You can't be sad and crying if you're blowing bubbles, right?
 I put in some snack bars. You can choose anything that is your favorite and won't make a mess in the box.
A stress ball is a must for helping alleviate your physical reactions by channeling all your energy into squeezing the heck out of this little ball.
Yes, I know, at some point or another, crying is going to happen. That's why I put in a fresh pack of tissues.

The Wellness Recovery Action Plan was introduced to me through an Internet search and happening upon Mary Ellen Copeland's website.

According to the WRAP website,

"The Wellness Recovery Action Plan® or 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.
WRAP has been studied extensively in rigorous research projects and is listed in the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices."
I am a firm believer in the WRAP program. I've been using it since 2008. You must realize it's a living document. I review my WRAP after every hospitalization and during major episodes. As people come in and out of my life, or doctors and therapists, I make changes as well.
Now that you've seen how I've created my "Coping Box", I'd like to see what you come up with when creating yours. Let me know by e-mail or in the comments section.

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