Before I get into list making, I wanted to highlight my new site name, “Stigma Free Susan” and the new focus of my blog. Here I will explore how to live a stigma free life (rejecting false assumptions others make about you) and raise awareness for invisible illnesses, both physical and mental. I will be writing about my experiences and share some of what I go through so others know there is hope and that they are not alone. For a full description, check out the new About page at the top.
Now, onto lists….
There are a lot of strategies I use to try and stay well and relieve symptoms, physically and emotionally, in my daily life. I try to eat well, get exercise, spend time in nature, grow my relationship with God, budget my income, journal, connect with family and friends, etc. I first learned about having a wellness toolbox in the WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) class I took at my local NAMI chapter. I made a list of all the things I have done or could do to stay well and things I could do when I’m not feeling well, to feel better.
I now consider list making itself as one of my wellness tools. I have always liked making to-do lists but in the last few months I have found that I enjoy making lists for all areas of my life. It helps me stay on track, feel organized, get motivated, remember things, and look to the future. It helps with other items in my wellness toolbox, too. Between the side effects of the medications I’m on and the brain fog from my conditions, I have a really hard time remembering and focusing on things, so lists are a life saver.
To help keep my eating on track, I make a meal plan for the week and grocery list, complete with estimated cost of each item so I can stay within my budget and so I’m not shocked when I’m at the register. I have a growing list of easy, healthy, budget meals for those times when I’m drawing a blank on what to eat. I also have a list of healthy snacks to refer to. These lists help set me up for success during the week and it’s one less thing I need to stress about.
One of my wellness tools is to create art. However, that is very broad. I found myself forgetting about some of the things I could do. I even forgot about supplies that I had. So I ended up making a list of creative activities I can do do that explores the areas I’m interested in and the supplies I currently have. I even put it in a sheet protector. I keep adding to it as I remember what supplies I have or as I get into something new. Referring to this list eliminates the time I spend wondering what I should do. I’m much more likely to pursue a creative activity if I can easily look at my options.
I also make lists for my spiritual life. In my prayer binder I have different sections. In the ‘daily prayers’ section I write what I’m praying for in a list form and then say the prayer out loud. There are many examples of how to structure your prayer and I use a variation of the ACTS method (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication). This helps me stay on track each day and not forget something important. I also have a running list of answered prayers. And I recently added a list of times I have heard the voice of God in some form or another. I really like this area of my life organized and it makes me feel whole.
I have a list of goals and priorities, something everyone should have in their life. It is wide-ranging. And I don’t always attach a time frame to the items. I list things I want to learn about and areas of my life I want to improve or strengthen.
I encourage you to explore list making and see if it helps you in your daily life. I feel it can really help alleviate anxiety and combat symptoms of depression. It gets all that swirling stuff out of your head. I think it makes life more manageable. Go beyond the usual to-do list and apply lists to other areas of your life. There are many list making apps you can download if you think that may help you. I haven’t explored that because I really like writing it down with pen and paper and keeping it in a sheet protector. Use whatever method works for you! There are also many articles online about the psychology of list making, if that is something that interests you.
For more information on WRAP and how to develop a wellness toolbox, check out the WRAP site here. Some common wellness tools are already listed for you, too. I would love to hear your thoughts on list making. Are you a list maker? Do you think it could help you?