Bullet Journaling for your Mental Health

Have I mentioned my new obsession Bullet Journaling?

I have written in journals on and off since I was a very young child. In our recent move, my ver first diary surfaced with only twenty small pages filled out. Many of the journals I used in my teenage years are packed full of scrawling ands notes.

But in the past few years I’ve written in journals only very intermittently. Even as I have not journaled regularly, I have missed it.

So when my sister and then my mom both told me about bullet journaling inside of a week, I decided to look into it. They had started a pinterest board with ideas for their bullet journals. Once I read about them at bulletjournal.com, I pulled an unused journal off my shelf and jumped in with both feet.

Why Bullet Journaling is Good for your Mental Health

The idea behind the bullet journal is to keep all your notes, appointments, lists, and whatever else in one place. There’s an index at the front so you can easily find what you’ve put in your journal. Every time you put in something new, you log it in the index. You can log page by page or use categories to group entries together.

The central purpose of the bullet journal is the daily log and rapid logging. It employs key symbols to log your daily activites. Here’s what mine looks like:

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But for me, more important than helping me get organized, the Bullet Journal helps me stay focused and mindful. I can keep a long term list of things that need to get done on my future log, weekly log, or on some other master list page, and only put on my daily log the things that I think I can achieve that day. This helps keep me from getting overwhelmed, shutting down, and getting nothing done.

The other really helpful aspect of my BuJo has been the Gratitude page and the Goal Tracker. Here is what my goal tracker looks like:

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At the top of the layout I have the days of the month. This is my very first goal tracker and it included the last week of February, which is why it’s so squished. On the right hand side I have a list of the habits or goals I would like to do/achieve every day. My tracker includes: taking my medication every day, eating breakfast, lunch and dinner, spending time in the sun, playing with my dogs, going for walks, blogging, working on my book, gratitude, days gone without eating sugar, spending time with husband without screens, drinking enough water, calling or spending time with a friend, writing journal pages.

You’ll notice that I’ve been more successful with some of these than others (I’ve eaten sugar every day since I started this for example…). The idea is not to shame yourself for not succeeding, but to give yourself credit for when you do. For me, it has been motivating to look at this and see, ‘Wow, I haven’t spent any time outside in a week, that’s not good. Let’s go outside right now.’ or ‘Hey look, I’ve logged what I’m grateful for every day for the past week, I’m going to try to keep up that streak! How cool would it be if I logged gratitude for every day of the month?!’.

What If I Have No Goals and I Stay in Bed All Day

I may have been a little overly optimistic when I created my habit tracker. Lots of people only track a few things and there are a lot of different ways to do it. You can track anything, taking a shower, getting out of bed, days without smoking or doing some other harmful habit, exactly how much water you drink, days you managed to leave the house, etc. Wherever you are in your life right now, the habit tracker can help you achieve whatever goals you have.

And if you don’t have any goals at all? Well, then the habit tracker is even more important for you. If you can’t think of any goals you want to track for yourself, think about the goals that your counselor, friend, or family member has expressed for you. Write that down, and even if you only achieve it one day out of the month, you can look back at that and see that you did indeed accomplish something.

More About the BuJo

BohoBerry has been my favorite place for information and inspiration. She has some great ideas of her own and also does a great job of curating other people’s bujo ideas.

I started out be following the simple instructions at bulletjournal.com. After the first week, I started to see what worked for me and what didn’t. I kept looking for inspiration and changed up my monthly, weekly, and daily layouts to make them work for me.

My new favorite layout is the Calendex, developed by Eddy Hope. Heres what mine looks like:

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It’s my first attempt, so I’ve had some trial and error with doing it “correctly”. (You’ll note the rnadom line drawn through the bottom quarter of the Calendex. This has no meaning and was drawn by accident when I was creating this page while watching TV. A lesson in mindfulness…) I use the colored dots for things like Birthdays and Holidays that I have in one place at the beginning of my BuJo. And then I use colored boxes with page numbers for the events on my calendar. One other change I made is that when I have an event that lasts two or more days, I put it on the left side of the month so that I can make one long block, like this:

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The purple block in the second column denotes a three-day trip my hubby and I are taking. The Calendex acts as both my future log and my monthly log and my regular layouts are weekly and daily logs.

And this is my favorite weekly log, which is sort of an amalgam of a bunch of other weekly logs that I found on Pinterest:

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I found that I needed more space for Notes for the week and Next week then I did for the individual days, which is how I ended up with this.

Bullet Journaling is a great place to get a little daily creativity into my life and it also helps me be more mindful. I hope you will get inspired and join the BuJo community!

 

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