Since starting to bullet journal a few years ago, a lot has changed and evolved along the way. For starters, I used to be an advocate for minimalism, only sighting the grey highlighter when I really wanted something to stand out! Now, I can’t seem to create a spread without it looking like a stationery store has thrown up across the page (in a functional, coordinated manner of course!). However, one thing has stayed the same, and it’s the positive effect that bullet journaling has had on my mental health. In the same way my style has changed, I initially started bullet journaling for purely planning purposes, but it has now become an important part of caring for my mental health. Having lived with clinical anxiety for nearly 10 years, I’ve developed good coping mechanisms, and bullet journaling has become a very effective staple in my self-care routine.
I’m going to share five ways you can bullet journal to care for your mental wellbeing, and how I use these methods to help me in my journey with mental health issues.
1. Clear your mind
Getting your thoughts out of your head, and down onto paper is an extremely effective way of relieving stress and anxiety. The act of acknowledging your thoughts and writing them on paper, has a similar effect to talking with someone. It allows you to process thoughts and emotions, as you think about what is really going on up in there! Also, physically seeing it on paper, gives you a chance to come back to your thoughts, and tackle some of the issues when you’re in a better state of mind.
I use my bullet journal for reflective journaling, like keeping a diary. I create weekly spreads, and at the end of the day unpack my thoughts and emotions. I divide a page into roughly three days, to take away the pressure of filling in an entire blank page. You can also use it for ‘to do’ lists, or a ‘brain dump’, a simple space to scribble things down, knowing they’re there to refer to later.
2. Use a mood and habit tracker
A mood tracker is a great way to have a very quick daily check-in with yourself. It gives you the chance to pause, think, and jot down how you’re feeling in yourself. I use a very simple graph method, with the days of the month numbered along the bottom, and my mood from very low to very happy marked with (extremely complex…) smiley faces. The reason why I use a graph method that is so easy, is so when I’m extremely low, it’s simple to pick up a pen and mark, without having to overthink anything. I can also spot trends over certain days, or in a flow of days. The graph also allows space for me to jot down what might have made me feel very low, or very happy. For example, I can jot ‘lack of sleep’ next to a low day, so that in future I know to make sure I prioritise getting my 8 hours of sleep, or note ‘went for coffee with a good friend’ next to a very happy day, so I know to do that more often.
Alongside my mood tracker, I keep a simple habit tracker, and colour in days I complete each habit I’m tracking. I track things like exercise, morning devotion, medication, staying hydrated etc. Picking up good habits that we know will benefit our health and wellbeing, can be hard to do in the midst of a busy life, so tracking my progress keeps me motivated. Again, I can spot patterns of missing similar days, or correlation between low days in my mood tracker, and whether missing any good habits has affected my mental health.
Something I want to warn against, is using these as tools to beat yourself up. Some days, even days at a time, I won’t keep up with my tracker, especially if I’m extremely busy or low. Having those blank spaces is okay – just come back to it when you can.
3. Create spreads to pick yourself up!
These are my favourite kind of spreads to create - the ‘Pick-me-up’ spread. Simply create a spread that has a selection of actions you can take when you’re feeling low or stressed, that you know are effective in improving your mental state. To create these spreads, I use the notes from my mood tracker, to compile ideas of things to do, that I know work to pick me up when I’m feeling anxious or stressed, and I mark them with a page tab or washi tape, so that they’re easy to find. It includes things like; go for a walk, journal, stay hydrated, pray, talk to someone you trust etc. to take it another step further, you can number these ideas in rank of most to less effective. You can also include encouraging quotes and sayings in your weekly spreads as mood boosters.
The great thing about this method, is that you can completely personalise it. What works for me, may not work for you. For example, my faith is huge part of my life that helps me a great deal, so I included bible verses all over my spreads. Maybe your thing is poetry or music, jot down some lyrics or lines from your favourite poem. This spread is also a chance for you to unleash your creativity if you’re that way inclined. Which brings me to my next bujo method…
4. Be mindful
When you think of mindfulness, you might think of sitting on the floor cross-legged meditating, an adult colouring book, or closing your eyes and eating a cookie like you really mean it!
Mindfulness is a proven effective way of relieving stress and anxiety. All it requires is for you to be fully present, aware of where you are and what you’re doing, without allowing your mind to be over active or judgmental. It basically means being fully submerged and concentrated on your surrounding or activity, so that your mind is not going a hundred miles an hour removed from where you are or what you’re doing.
You can be mindful with literally anything, including bullet journaling. Bullet journaling is one task I can do that completely empties my mind of anxiety, because I’m so focused on what I’m doing. If you’re anything like me and love getting arty, take time to illustrate, use washi tape, stickers or paint and get creative with your spreads. If your aesthetic is minimal, you can get creative with the content of your bullet journal; try gratitude spreads, writing lyrics or poems, or learning some calligraphy techniques.
5. Enjoy your journal
I’ve always said to myself, that if the enjoyment of bullet journaling ever diminishes, or it becomes a chore, I need to change something! Bullet Journaling is so enjoyable and sustainable because it is completely customisable, and it can evolve along with you.
Bullet Journal in a way that you will enjoy. If you’re a minimalist, enjoy your grey highlighter and single black pen; If you’re a sticker nerd, get sticker happy; if you love to doodle and paint, incorporate it into your spreads! Whatever you do, enjoy it, because doing something you enjoy is a sure way to improve your mental wellbeing!
Bullet journaling has been an amazing system not only for staying organised, but for helping me look after my mental health and wellbeing. Whether you’re taking care of your general mental health or are living with more prominent mental health issues such as anxiety or depression, there are many methods to using a bullet journal that can contribute to maintaining and improving your wellbeing. It can include incorporating skills learnt in therapy such as mindfulness, or a specific spread for simply getting your thoughts down on paper. Try out some of these methods, learn what might work for you, develop as you go and enjoy it!
Temi Manning, also known as Living Letter Plans, is a stationery and lifestyle influencer from the UK. She creates digital content about journaling, planning, wellbeing, and faith on Instagram and YouTube. Temi began sharing her creative passion on Instagram in 2017. Since then, she has started a small business called Living Letter Designs, selling wall art and gifts, and works with various brands creating lifestyle content. As well as this, Temi works part time in digital marketing for a UK based charity, and also writes features for various faith and stationery blogs.
Bullet journaling may help with anxiety because it lets you see your fears and worries on paper. The process of writing helps organize thoughts, better understand your feelings, and regulates your nervous system.How can bullet journal help mental health? ›
Bullet journaling may help with anxiety because it lets you see your fears and worries on paper. The process of writing helps organize thoughts, better understand your feelings, and regulates your nervous system.What is the best way to journal for mental health? ›
- Try to write every day. Set aside a few minutes every day to write. ...
- Make it easy. Keep a pen and paper handy at all times. ...
- Write or draw whatever feels right. Your journal doesn't need to follow any certain structure. ...
- Use your journal as you see fit. You don't have to share your journal with anyone.
Ultimately, the purpose of the bullet journal is to declutter the mind. With the bullet journal method you can track the past, organise the present and plan for the future. It works because it offers the freedom to create systems that work for you and your personal thinking style.How does bullet journaling relieve stress? ›
This type of journal provides the space for individuals to write their feelings and thoughts toward someone or some situation that they would be uncomfortable saying out loud. It provides a way to release their feelings and put those feelings into words.What is the everyday journal about mental health? ›
Mental Health Daily Journal is designed to help track the state of your mental health each day through noting medication changes and by journaling about any fluctuating feelings and habits. Acknowledging the good days and the not-so-good days helps support our mental health journey.What are deep journal prompts for mental health? ›
Journaling Prompts for Managing Stress or Anxiety
I feel stress in ________________ part of my body. It feels like... My anxiety may be trying to tell me... The evidence that my anxious thoughts are true is... /The evidence that my anxious thoughts are false is...
Next Level Journaling Prompts for Mental Health
What's your first coping mechanism that comes to mind? Do you think it's helpful or harmful, and why? How are you helping yourself when things are hard? Write a letter to your younger self, talking about mental health.
And there's research to back it up, too. Positive affect journaling (PAJ) has been found to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression and improve well-being. The act of writing down thoughts and feelings helps people understand themselves more and recognize what they need to improve.What are the 2 most important items in bullet journaling? ›
To get started with a bullet journal, you really need only two things: a dot grid notebook and a no-bleed pen. Look for a journal with a lay-flat spine, high-quality paper, a dot grid that's light and easy on the eyes, and numbered pages.
“Use words, colors, and pictures to indicate and represent our moods each day.” To start, she suggests creating both a section in the journal for tracking and a regular routine—every day at the same time—to do the check-in. “Creating a consistent schedule is the best way to hold yourself accountable,” says Frank.How do you brain dump a bullet journal? ›
Just write everything down in one big long list down the page. Write until your brain is clear and you can't think of anything else to write down. You should sit quietly for several minutes after you think you're done in case any additional thoughts come to mind.What is a self-care bullet journal? ›
Using Bullet Journal For Self-Care
It's not just about writing down your daily affirmations (although that's important too), but you can also track your mood, water intake, exercise, and other self-care practices to make sure you're staying on top of your mental and physical health.
- Washi Tape – I love the way Growing Meadows uses washi tape in her memory journaling.
- Border Stickers. ...
- Stencils. ...
- Colored Pencils. ...
- Deco Foil & Adhesive Pen – ...
- Water Colors – ...
- Embroidery Floss – ...
- Distressing Ink –
You're overloading yourself with too many tasks
It can be demoralizing if you assign yourself 20 tasks but only completed 3 of them. Assigning yourself too many tasks makes you less motivated to even touch your bullet journal. If it were me, I wouldn't want to open a journal to countless tasks that need to be done.
Journaling has a beautiful way of helping us unpack deep, emotional traumas. Writing helps you to process your feelings on a specific subject or event. Putting pen to paper gives you the opportunity to express your thoughts and feelings safely and honestly.How bullet journaling changed my life? ›
Bullet Journal Helped Me Find My Goals
I always struggled to know what I want from life and had only a vague idea about it. Bullet Journal changed it all. By creating a structure in my life, it helped me every day to think of what I wanted and why I did the things I do. What is this?
- Relax and reduce stress.
- Find ways to learn and be creative.
- Spend time in nature.
- Connect with others.
- Look after your physical health.
- Try to get enough sleep.
- Start your journey from where you stand right now. ...
- Don't judge, just let the words flow. ...
- Dialog with yourself. ...
- Be thankful. ...
- A journal doesn't have to be written. ...
- Write in the third person. ...
- Revise past events.
- Write Free from Judgement. ...
- Be as Creative or Simplistic as you Like. ...
- Add in Sprinkles of Gratitude. ...
- Add in Affirmations, Mantras and Positive Quotes you Love. ...
- Make Sure to Put the Date on your Entries. ...
- Write When You are Inspired or When Your Intuition Nudges You.
Simply write down something that made you happy.
Get yourself a journal and record good things that happened and positive feelings. "If the goal is specifically to feel happier, it may help to jot down two to three things that made you feel happy that day," suggests Chloe Carmichael, Ph.
Journaling Prompts for Managing Emotions
What emotions am I holding on to? How can I detach or neutralize this emotion? Why am I doing X? Why am I feeling this way?
- Paper or digital? Writing by hand is the more traditional way to journal and it can help you to better process your thoughts. ...
- Write down what you worry about. ...
- Reflect on what you've written. ...
- Rewrite your concerns or fears. ...
- Write daily. ...
- Use journal prompts.
"I like to use gratitude journals and affirmation journals with my clients," says Charlynn Ruan, PhD, a licensed clinical therapist. Ruan says writing about happy memories is especially powerful because depression tends to bring up negative feelings. "It's like retraining your brain."What coping skills is journaling? ›
Journaling is an effective way to channel intense feelings into healthy and productive internal fuel. It is a form of self-expression that when done properly can lead to personal growth. When writing down your thoughts and feelings, you are forced to pause and focus on the details you may have otherwise missed.What should I put in my bullet journal for beginners? ›
- Daily task list. One of the most basic yet effective bullet journal ideas is to create a daily task list. ...
- Daily gratitude log. Another popular bullet journal layout is a daily gratitude log. ...
- Habit tracker. ...
- Meal planning. ...
- Budget planning. ...
- Water tracker. ...
- Daily mood tracker. ...
- Sleep tracker.
Step 2: Create the Index Pages
The Index page is the backbone of the organization in the Bullet Journal system. It's the first thing you'll want to set up in your new Bullet Journal. The Index is a quick and easy way to organize the contents of your journal.
Bullet journals come with dots instead of lines on the pages. The dots are meant to be better for creating spreads compared to lines. Lined pages are seen in journals so that you can write down all that you need to. You add spreads to your bullet journals, which does require more work.What pages should I have in my bullet journal? ›
- A calendar page of any kind to track important dates.
- Monthly goals pages to track your growth.
- Brain dumps to clear you head.
- Expense trackers to manage your finances.
- Habit trackers to form your ideal routine.
The Bullet Journal is comprised of 4 key concepts: Indexing, Collections, Rapid-Logging, and Migration make up the foundation of the Bullet Journal.
Basically, a brain dump is the act of writing down everything that comes to mind on a particular topic. Its proponents describe it as a way to get all of your thoughts and ideas down on paper and free up space in your brain.What happens to your brain when you journal? ›
Journaling helps keep your brain in tip-top shape. Not only does it boost memory and comprehension, it also increases working memory capacity, which may reflect improved cognitive processing.How to do bullet journal ADHD? ›
- A future log to keep track of important dates in the months ahead.
- Monthly spreads to track commitments, goals, and progress each month.
- Daily entries consisting of tasks, events, and notes all rapidly logged using a designated system of bullets.
A wellness journal is a journal dedicated to keeping track of your wellbeing. It's a bit different to regular journaling, which involves writing out your thoughts and feelings or daily experiences – wellness journals are designed with the intent of tracking a goal or an intention.What is a self love journal? ›
At its most basic, self-love journaling is writing or typing in ways to generate more love for yourself. A self-love journal falls under the larger umbrella of mental health journals, but it's specifically tailored to help a journaler reflect and develop self-compassion as part of overall personal wellness.What are some self care ideas? ›
- Get Eight Hours of Sleep a Night. “Getting adequate sleep is underrated in this country, but it's so important,” says Dr. ...
- Go for a Walk in Nature. ...
- Eat a Nutrient-Rich Meal. ...
- Listen to a Podcast. ...
- Meditate. ...
- Journaling. ...
- Connect With a Faith Community. ...
- Volunteer in Your Area.
A Level 10 Life is a productivity method created by Hal Elrod that helps you get a better understanding of how you feel about the current state of your life, which helps you when goal setting . The system allows you to step back and reevaluate your life, by assigning levels of success to different categories.How do I start a mental health bullet journal? ›
How Do I Start A Mental Health Bullet Journal? You can start by practicing gratitude, writing about how you're feeling, past events, or tracking your moods. Trackers are one easy way to get started with a mental health journal.How do you start a journal entry? ›
Start with the present moment (“What's going on?”) Or start with a feeling (“I'm so mad I could bust!”) Or start with a story (“Today the weirdest thing happened….”) Once you've started, don't go back to edit or rewrite. And don't think too much. Let it flow.Why is bullet journaling important? ›
The concept behind a bullet journal is to streamline your plans, tasks, notes and to-do lists so that they fit within one organisational system. This method makes it easier for you to prioritise and manage your life, enabling you to be more productive and organised.
The Zeigarnik Effect
Writing down tasks in a bullet journal seems to alleviate this problem, as does writing down a to-do list. Once your brain realizes you've got a plan in place to accomplish the task, it stops reminding you about it. This phenomenon allows you to be more productive with a clear head.
Bullet journals can be used to keep track of tasks, schedule appointments and meetings, manage projects, take notes, track how time is being spent, etc. Some have even used it to keep track of goals for annual reviews.What are the key concepts of bullet journal? ›
The Bullet Journal is comprised of 4 key concepts: Indexing, Collections, Rapid-Logging, and Migration make up the foundation of the Bullet Journal.How often should I bullet journal? ›
It is recommended that you use your bullet journal on a daily basis, at least to monitor your tasks and goals. However, it is important that you organize your tasks every week and set your goals every month.What is emotion journaling? ›
“An emotion journal allows you to record your feelings over several days or weeks and then notice patterns or trends,” Ruiz says. When you can recognize these trends, you can work to eliminate or avoid certain triggers — or focus your energy on how best to respond next time.What the heck is a bullet journal? ›
A bullet journal is a productivity system created by Ryder Carroll. The system is based on rapid logging with symbol keys to help you organize important events, notes, and tasks.What is the difference between a journal and a bullet journal? ›
Bullet journals come with dots instead of lines on the pages. The dots are meant to be better for creating spreads compared to lines. Lined pages are seen in journals so that you can write down all that you need to. You add spreads to your bullet journals, which does require more work.How do you use bullet journal daily? ›
The Daily Log is designed for day-to-day use. At the top of the page, record the date as your topic. Throughout the course of the day, simply Rapid Log your Tasks, Events, and Notes as they occur. If you don't fill a page, add the next date wherever you left off and you're ready to continue.What are the negative effects of journaling? ›
- Journaling may cause you to overthink your life.
- Journaling can be too confronting at times.
- Writing about negativity might cause you to spiral down.
- You can get stuck inside your journal.
That said, most people can expect a bullet journal to last 6 -12 months on average. People who don't use them as frequently may go through only one bullet journal over a 12 -24 month period, while someone extremely active in their bullet journal may require a new one every 3 or 4 months.
- Really time-consuming, especially if you don't practice drawing much.
- Can be expensive, if you want good markers/pens.
- For me, it was mentally draining, since at the end of the month I would always stress that I didn't do my bullet journal for the upcoming month.