Mental health is a sensitive subject, and there are still some skeptics who believe those who suffer emotionally simply need to toughen up. That’s not the case, of course, which is why so many people are finding relief with a regular bullet journal mental health practice.
Many doctors, therapists, and coaches recommend journaling to their patients and clients who want greater self-understanding and emotional well-being. There are many ways to use bullet journal layouts and spreads for self-care and each one of them helps you in a different way. Discovering how to make a mental health bullet journal for yourself is going to help you to focus on feeling better.
The Bullet Journal Mental Health Connection
A bullet journal is a specific type of journal. It’s almost like a to-do list with all the bullet points, so it’s already helpful by taming the chaos of life’s many details. You can keep other types of notes about your day. You can jot down what you must do, break down your goals into smaller pieces so you can meet them more easily, and you can even use it as a diary. It’s yours, and you can do whatever you want with it. It’s going to help you clear your mind, focus on getting healthier, and to live your life with more enjoyment.
Why a Bullet Journal is Good For Mental Health
Bipolar tendencies, suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, stress related confusion, and paranoia are conditions that some people unfortunately may face at sometime in their lives. Since there are varying degrees of mental health issues and symptoms, check with your doctor or therapist regarding journaling as a treatment option. Especially if you want to stay away from chemicals or simply can’t afford to pay for ongoing counseling or medication. Journaling may be an answer for your minor to moderate anxiety and mental health issues. Here are a few reasons why.
Root Out Problems to Fix Issues
When you journal, you will likely be doing it while experiencing anxiety or depression. This means your thoughts may be manic, fast, or very slow but emotional. As you write, you will likely start off with what you feel the problem is because that is the immediate issue in your mind. After a while, you may find yourself moving towards the root of the issue without even realizing it. This can help you find what the main problem is and fix it to prevent further mental health trouble or, at the very least, to reduce it.
An Outlet When You’re Alone
All too often, we find that our depression or anxiety or other issues occur when we are alone. They may be in the middle of the night when no one is awake or during the day when friends and family are busy with their own lives and responsibilities. This makes journaling ideal. You can still get it out of your system — you’re just talking to your journal instead of another human.
Figure Out Triggers
You know that you’re depressed, anxious, stressed, or about to have a bipolar swing but you may not know what brought it on. Perplexing. Journaling can lead you to figure out your own emotional triggers, though. Writing allows you to pinpoint them, work through them by reviewing your journal entries, and finally to remove them. Once you can avoid those triggers, you can move into a better mental state and reduce further reactions.
Though journaling will not cure mental health issues, it can help reduce some of the symptoms that cause your day or life to derail. If you’re experiencing increased stress and other concerning conditions, consider seeking care from a medical provider or mental health professional.
Mindfulness Bullet Journal Ideas
The art of being mindful takes practice. It doesn’t happen overnight. The great news about being mindful, though, is you’re focusing on being more present at any given moment so practice is built-in and on-going. One of the most popular ways to add mindfulness to your journal is to write down a certain number of “Mindful Moments” at the end of each day.
For example, you may choose to write down four moments each day when you were especially mindful. Perhaps you really noticed the way the roses in your garden smell and you took a few moments to appreciate their beauty. Maybe you really took a few moments to breathe deeply before you responded in a stressful situation, and it helped you remain calm and in control. Whatever it is, write it down. This serves as a reminder to be more mindful in each moment, which naturally boosts your overall mental health.
If you’d like to learn more about mindfulness, check out this post: Mindfulness 101: Getting Started for BuJo Lovers.
Gratitude Bullet Journal Ideas
A gratitude bullet journal section might seem unlikely to have an impact on your mental health, but it does have surprising power. Most people spend a great deal of time focusing on things that upset them. Their upset mood lasts a long time, and their happy moods seem to pass quickly. Why spend most of your time in a state of anger, only finding a few moments of happiness in between? Perhaps you are frustrated because of traffic and you don’t join in to sing a silly song along with your child.
Maybe you are so focused on how mean someone was to you earlier you don’t recognize how kind another stranger was. Gratitude journaling gives you an opportunity to spend time each day thinking about the things you’re thankful for. You have no choice but to put aside whatever negativity you’re feeling to find things that make you happy each day.
Each day, write down two or three things that make your life richer, or easier, or more fulfilled in some way. Some days this will be a stretch, but remember it’s not always the big things you have to be grateful for. Sometimes it’s nothing more than just the way someone smiles at you when you walk by on the sidewalk each morning. If that makes you happy, let it make you happy. Spending intentional time focusing on what makes you grateful takes the power away from the things that make you less than pleased.
This can help you improve your physical health, too. When you feel happier, you’re more likely to work out. When you work out, you feel good about your health. When you feel good about your health, you might make better choices at mealtime. Perhaps you pass on dessert because you’re feeling less stressed that day.
Free-Writing Bullet Journal Ideas
There is no right or wrong way to keep this journal, so let yourself be free to express yourself in whatever way you like. All you need to do is to spend a bit of time each day writing in it.
It can be lyrics you love from a song you heard. It can be a poem that touched you. It can be a rant about something someone did that really upset you or something amazing you hope for in the far-away future. Whatever you want to write about, you get to write about.
This kind of journaling makes it easier to get in touch with your true self by focusing on certain themes. What makes you happy? What seems to make you sad? You really get to know yourself when you write in a journal, and that’s what makes it so beneficial to people who suffer from ordinary stress, anxiety and depression.
With or without therapy, keeping a journal is a powerful tool for getting to know yourself. There is no right or wrong way to feel, but you do know you may be able to change the way you think and feel by focusing on the good things. You can’t control what happens in life, but you may be able to control your reaction to the things that happen to you in life. It’s your power, and no one can take that from you.
Physical Activity Bullet Journal Trackers
So often people forget that physical activity affects mental health, too. Those who take care to exercise are more likely to have stronger immune systems, less stress, less anxiety, and a better quality of life. Physical activity decreases the production of stress hormones in the body while increasing the production of endorphins. Paying attention to your physical health allows you to improve your entire life. Not only are you more physically fit, your mind is sharper, your attitude is better, and you are less likely to be diagnosed with many diseases later in life.
Yoga Poses and Intentions Trackers
Practicing gentle and mindful yoga is a special kind of physical activity that calls in the mental and emotional aspects of you, too. Yoga will help you reduce stress, increase well-being, and to give you a feeling of peace.
A BuJo can remind you of how good you feel when you’ve spent some time on the mat, stretching and breathing your way to a greater sense of well-being. So, even when you’re bone tired and ready to crawl into bed after dinner, flip through to that collection of new yoga poses you want to try. Or to a tracker showing your favorite flow that curiously relaxes and refreshes you at the end of the day. Maybe you have a list of yoga intentions in the goals planner section of your bullet journal that will inspire you. Experiment until you find the system that motivates you to practice.
Food Bullet Journal Trackers
A food journal is a wonderful way to start the journey to better mental and emotional health. A food journal is just what it sounds like. It’s a journal in which you write down what you eat, what you’re feeling, and everything in between. The key to succeeding in keeping a food journal is to leave nothing out. Did you have a sip of water this morning? Write it down. Did you have a glass of wine — or two — with dinner? Write it down.
At the end of each day, go over your journal and write down how you felt that day. Over time you might begin to see patterns in how you feel versus what you ate that day. It helps you make a conscious decision to stop eating or drinking a certain way if you feel anxious, sluggish, or depressed afterwards. Sometimes that’s the best thing you can do for yourself.
It’s all a trickle-down effect when it comes to journaling and your overall health. You might find you benefit from keeping more than one journal to break down your feelings, your meal plans, and your food.
You might also discover that you’re better off with only one journal in which you keep all your information. It’s a trial and error situation for most people. Do what works for you, make changes that work for you, and don’t worry about what other people are doing with their journals.
Each of these ways of journaling can help you change your life and health. Let them help you along the way. When you’re guided to making better decisions, you’re going to like the way you feel about them. When you like the way you feel, you’re going to continue making good decisions. All it takes is one step in the right direction.
Many bullet journaling bloggers cover mental health and self-care issues, in addition to productivity, so look around and you’ll find someone you connect with. Marlena atA Pen and a Purpose has a PhD in psychology so you know she’s legit. Also, I’ve been impressed with Channon Gray, who recently graduated from college in London. Young but wise, that Channon!