How Bullet Journaling Can Help Us Manage Our Wellbeing
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 about layouts for our bullet journals, 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 are struggling, staying on top of things can be a real challenge. Sometimes low mood 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 can also help us to order our thoughts and to get some ‘stuff’ down on paper so that our minds feel 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 to process things. 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 friend or family member, or someone who is supporting us.
Some people use a bullet journal to track their habits. This could include things like emotional/physical feelings, behaviours, sleep, self-care, 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 and 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 or adopt a new exercise routine, we could track how often we do it. It gives us a visual image of whether we’re managing to improve.
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 and do change over time. We tend to recall bad memories more easily and in greater detail than good ones, using a bullet journal can help to remind us that life has balance.
Bullet journaling can be used to set goals. 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, or maintain contact with friends and family. Having these goals in an easily accessible place, and ticking them off when we achieve them, might show us that we can 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 fleeting, that we can draw on as positive. This exercise encourages us to look for something, anything, that has been okay during the day that reminds us 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 rage in a safe and measured way. It might help to release some of the tension and annoyance that we often feel that can negatively impact our relationships and engagement with life.
We could use a bullet journal to debrief after therapy or wellbeing sessions. There are several ‘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, exercising, meeting deadlines 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 wellbeing. We can also create a list of ‘care‘ items or a plan for the really grotty times that we all have. 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 already 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 to get through tough times.
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, we’ll likely struggle to achieve the things we’re trying to do and it will become unhelpful. Make it your own, identify what is most important to you and what you want to achieve to have a good life.
If reading this has inspired you to create your own bullet journal, the following YouTube videos may help you to get started:
The Student Wellbeing Service