My Planner – Wellness Tool Supreme

by Karen Clarke

February 2018

This article originally appeared at Pink Hi-Top Adventures.

Karen Clarke 1 - Feb 2018


I first encountered personal planners back in 1990. When placing an office supply order at work, one of my coworkers requested DayTimer refills, and I thought, “What the hell is ‘day…timer’?”. Now mind you, I’d always been the type who poured over office supply catalogs like porn, but I’d never seen a planner quite like this before. This was no ordinary calendar. This was a caramel-colored leather, pocket-sized, hyper-organized success Grail!



Karen Clarke 2 - Feb 2018


Since then, technology may have made it infinitely easier to reconnect with your 3rd grade crush, share ideas around the world, and overthrow a small nation, but for me, and millions of others, paper-based planning beats hi-tech any day! In fact, since partial hospitalization (PHP) five years ago, paper planning has not only remained my go-to for everyday time and life management (i.e., calendar, to do list, contacts, and key info), but has evolved into a valuable tool for maintaining mental health and addiction recovery.


To maintain mental and physical wellness, I use my planner to:
  • List medications (dose, frequency, etc.);
  • Track physical activity/exercise (e.g., steps walked each day, exercise log);
  • Track daily water consumption;
  • Meal plan;
  • Maintain a food log; and,
  • Log doctor visits/results, lab work, vaccines, etc.

In addition, I now carry a copy of my “KWRAP”* in my planner for easy reference.

Created by Mary Ellen Copeland, PhD, Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) is a tool to which I was first introduced in PHP. They gave us handouts to work on in group, but I did mine on the computer at home – with movie clips. (See below. Obviously the meds were kicking in at that point!)

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CBT is a tool for “modifying dysfunctional thinking and behavior”; and my planner has become a tool for CBT. My planner is a source of affirmations, visualizations, motivational quotes, gratitude lists, and other exercises designed to squash ANTs** and facilitate cognitive restructuring.
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No, it is not imperative for staying on top of things, but pictures, stickers, and other colorful accents just plain pick me the hell up! The very act of doodling and adding Washi tape, scrapbook paper, and motivational quote stickers to a planner page relaxes me, much the way adult coloring books relieve stress for others.

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Karen Clarke 18 - Feb 2018Needless to say, many of us coping with chronic mental illness and/or addiction struggle heavily with money management. In fact, the symptoms of our illnesses not only make managing finances difficult, but likely are the very things that dug us into our pecuniary pits in the first place.

Fortunately, with the help of family, friends, and professionals, and a wealth of resources available in books and online now, we can begin moving forward in this area of our lives too. I’ve dedicated an entire section of my planner to this topic – a one-stop place for planning, tracking, and learning.





*If WRAP is pronounced, /rap/, then KWRAP is pronounced, well…/CRAP/. {Even cocooned in my bed by the Vortex, I still had a sense of humour at the time.}
**A.N.T.s – Automatic Negative Thoughts – coined by psychiatrist Dr. Daniel G. Amen, MD.

Karen Clarke Bio Image




Karen Clarke is a peer recovery specialist, undergrad psych/addiction counseling student, and mental health blogger. In recovery from major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, alcohol addiction {12+ years now!}, she blogs to help lift the veil of mental illness.

2 thoughts on “My Planner – Wellness Tool Supreme

  • February 19, 2018 at 6:16 AM

    so helpful!! thank you….I haven’t gotten to the tracker stage but see that in my future. all my life in one place still a goal….wonderful to hear of your success and the help a planner plays in a roller coaster world.

    • April 2, 2018 at 5:25 PM

      Thanks for your comment JoAnne! My apologies for not replying sooner. This past month truly has been a roller coaster, and I’m only getting back on track now.

      I haven’t consistently gotten to the tracker stage yet either. Though often I find tracking my progress and habits to be motivating, sometimes it’s just plain overwhelming! But all in all, my planner and my Wellness Recovery Action Plan keep me getting out of bed and moving forward. Progress not perfection as they say. 🙂


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