Bullet journaling is a handy way of keeping stock of different aspects of our lives. They’re quite visual and allow us to get creative as we plan, diarise, monitor and track. There’s a wealth of information online (particularly on Pinterest) about layouts for our bullet journals (BuJo for short) but most importantly, there’s no right or wrong way to go about it all.
Bullet journaling can be a useful aid to our wellbeing; we can track our habits and moods, our medication and appointments, our self-care and our triggers. Having all of that information in one place, and indeed, having an outlet for it can be incredibly helpful in managing our mental health.
What is bullet journaling?
A bullet journal is a system designed to help us manage our lives. It can help us to track our habits and thoughts, organise to-do lists, and plan things in the future. It’s completely customisable and we can use the system in different ways, depending on what we want to get out of it.
One thing that bullet journals can be great for is helping us to organise our thoughts and our lives. When we have depression, staying on top of things can be a real challenge. Sometimes depression affects our memory or our ability to process things.
Having a system where we can write everything down in one place can be really helpful. It means we don’t have to worry about remembering where we put the various lists we’re working from. Writing everything down might also help us to order our thoughts, and to get some ‘stuff’ down on paper so that our brains are less full.
If we choose to use our bullet journal to write down some of our daily thoughts, it can provide us with an outlet. We could use it to work through thoughts that we might know are irrational. We might find it helpful to write a diary or journal about the things going on for us. If we find that it’s helpful, we might choose to share it with a health professional who’s working with us.
Some people use bullet journal to track their habits. This could include things like emotional/physical feelings, behaviours, sleep, how often we shower, or anything else we think we’d find helpful. This could be in a simple grid form or we could add in some notes. It can allow us to see whether any patterns emerge. It could help us to identify some of our triggers. Knowing about these patterns or triggers means that we can work on them, if we want to.
It can help us to get into good habits, too. For example, if we want to start meditating each day, we could track how often we do it. It gives us a visual image of whether we’re managing to improve on how often we do it.
We Can See That Our Thoughts Change
If we choose to write down our thoughts, then over time we will hopefully be able to see that our thoughts change. This means that if we’re in a bad patch, we might be able to look back and see that we haven’t always felt that rubbish. Our thoughts can change over time.
Bullet journaling can be used to set goals. When we live with depression there are times when we might feel lost and directionless. Having some goals can help us to feel like we have something concrete to aim for. It doesn’t need to be anything big – our goal could be to get to bed by a certain time each night. Having these goals in an easily accessible place, and ticking them off when we achieve them, might show us that we are able to do things. This can help to increase our motivation, our confidence and sense of achievement.
Some people choose to note down daily positives, the ‘okay things’ or things they’re grateful for, as part of their bullet journal. This might enable us to see that however bad our day has been, there has been a moment, albeit sometimes teeny, that we can draw on as positive. This exercise encourages us to look for something, anything, that has been okay during our day – that totally includes that we got through the day, that’s no mean feat some days.
Some people choose to pop ‘rant boxes’ in their bullet journal. This is a space where we can rant away. We can write down anything bugging us, or driving us up the wall. This can allow us to get it out in a safe way. It might help to release some of the tension and annoyance that we often feel.
We could use a bullet journal to debrief after therapy sessions. There are a number of ‘therapy debrief’ templates online. This space can allow us to reflect on the things we’ve discussed, remember any tasks or goals we’ve talked about, and write down anything we want to bring to the next session so that we don’t forget it.
Bullet journaling can provide us with a space to record any achievements we have. An achievement will mean different things to different people. For some of us, achievements are things like leaving the house or cooking a meal. Others might find achievement in seeing family or friends. Some of us might find achievements in employment, education, or volunteering. Recording our achievements can remind us that we’re making progress when those ‘stuck’ feelings arise.
Have A Page Of Self-Care Ideas
Self-care can be vital when it comes to managing our mental health, here are some examples of ways we can use a bullet journal to help us manage and track our self-care. We can also create a list of ‘emergency self-care‘ items or a crisis plan for the really grotty times. Having a list of self-care ideas can mean that we don’t have to try and remember the things that help because they’re written down in front of us.
We could also have a page of distraction ideas, distress tolerance ideas, ‘bad day meals’ ideas, or lists of other things that help us.
Make It Your Own
The beauty of bullet journaling is that it can be as much or as little as we want it to be. If we focus on perfection or make it too complicated, it’s likely that we’ll struggle to do the things we’re trying to do with it. Keeping it as simple as we want to, including the pages we want to, and making it as creative or plain as we want to, will help us to make it our own.
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