I don’t talk about my bullet journal that much on my blog, apart from sharing a few of my monthly setups. But I really want to start sharing more with you. I started my bullet journal in June 2018, the day I sat my last GCSE exam. I was not coping well that year and for a couple of years on too, but my bullet journal helped my mental health so much.
I’ve always been a creative person but wasn’t amazing at art or calligraphy writing. Thankfully I’ve gotten better, though you definitely don’t have to be artistic to start a bullet journal. There are so many amazing benefits to a bullet journal and I’m so lucky that one of them is that it helped improve my mental health so much.
It’s no secret that bullet journals are for organization. I’ve always been an organised person, with my daily to-do lists and highlighting or ticking them once I’ve completed a task. I can’t spend a day without a to-do list! It’s somewhere that I can plan out my whole life. I’m currently at the end of my 3rd bullet journal and I think the more I do it, the more I enjoy it.
I’ve made so many lists from camping equipment to bucket lists and things I want to achieve in my life!
Tracking my mental health
I’m going to tell you about one of my counselling sessions from back in 2018. I had an amazing counsellor, someone who I really trusted and felt like he understood and was on my side. I will say that looking back, my eating disorder had 100% control over me so I’m not sure this was entirely healthy. But that’s another thing.
So, before I tell you about the session and how it relates to my bullet journal, I’m going to have to give you some kind of context. I think this was in 2018, though it could have been the end of 2017. I would have been either 15 or 16, depending on exactly when it was. So back then, I had anorexia, depression & anxiety, I mean I still have depression & anxiety. But I’m pretty much recovered (refer to my previous post to see what I mean). I found it so hard to explain to people what I was going through and how I was feeling. And you might not understand reading this, in fact, I kind of hope you don’t because I don’t want any more people to go through it.
Basically, having anorexia, depression & anxiety is like having 3 other voices in your head. Then there’s me, however weak I was in comparison. So that’s 4 voices in one brain. Depending on how I would be feeling, the loudness of the voices would be different. Sadly my voice was always the silent or whispering one, the other three took over.
My counsellor would sometimes ask me how I was and it would get really complicated because a different voice would say something different. I tried to explain it to him and he understood, which was a massive relief! He would ask me which was the loudest and the order of them. It helped me so much that when I started my bullet journal, I decided to start a mental health tracker.
I wanted to know how they changed each day because honestly, I was just as confused myself. My memory was terrible so writing it down just made it a lot easier for me to remember.
I created a way to track all of this, and what better than my bullet journal. I drew 30 boxes and then colour coded the voices. Anorexia was grey, depression was dark blue, anxiety was red and turquoise was what I called ‘smart brain’ or later on ‘rational’.
This is what it looked like:
It was honestly such a help to see how my mental health changed over months and even years! I kept up this tracker for almost 2 years, basically until I would forget to do it. If you want to know the dates specifically, it was the middle of July 2018 – January 2020.
Obviously, there’s my mental health tracker, but I do have lots of other trackers too. In the first year of bullet journaling, I tried to track my period but I kept forgetting to fill it in so I gave up with that pretty quickly. I also used to have a dream tracker, but mine are so vivid that I used up the paper too fast, as well as a sleep tracker but my sleep was too disturbed. But it was very effective because I went on sleeping pills when we realised just how awful my sleep schedule was!
At the start of the academic year (and because it was closest to June which is when I started), I start my yearly mood tracker. Mine is Inside Out themed, with the moods being Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger. Once again it is something that I like to look back on and see what the most dominant colour was. It has been interesting to see the progress of my moods over the last 3 ish years.
Seeing the three-yearly mood trackers next to each other just makes me feel quite proud of myself and how much I’ve overcome in recent years. 2018-19 is mostly sadness, as well as fear with hardly any days of joy. 2019-20 is mostly fear and I think slightly more joy than sadness (bit gutted I didn’t finish that year 🤦♀️). 2020-21 is still going but it looks like joy is the most abundant, with sadness and fear probably the same. I’m happy with that!
Another yearly tracker I have is my book tracker! This is another one of my favourites and inspires me to read a bit more. Once I have finished a book, I write down the number (in the year), the title, my rating out of 5 stars and the date I finished the book.
As you can see, I find it hard not to give 4 or 5 stars!
Having a theme
When I first started, I just did random themes and they weren’t constant through the month. That kind of thing really stresses me out now, so I have one theme for the entire month. I thought it might be interesting to see how I layout my bujo and what I include every month.
I really like to plan ahead so I have actually decided on all my themes for the rest of 2021. One of my favourite things to do is buy a new washi tape each month. Some people collect stamps or football cards, I collect washi tapes! They are just so pretty and I love supporting small businesses on Etsy too. It’s a win-win situation. I won’t spend more than £3 on a washi tape – mainly because I buy lots and I am still a student… I normally have a theme idea in mind, then search for the washi tape and base the entire month and pages around the washi tape.
You just have to have a cover page! Some of my favourites:
I hate New Year’s resolutions, but something I love is monthly goals! They are so much easier to fulfil than a yearly resolution. These goals can be anything from my personal life, to uni or blogging. Practically every month, I set a number of books that I want to read. (I think the only yearly goal I set is my reading challenge on Goodreads which I completed a week or so ago! You can see it here).
I only started having a calendar for the whole month in April. I think I just had so much on with assignments, meeting friends & Easter. I am so glad that I finally decided to include it, sometimes you just want to see further ahead than the week you are in!
This is probably the one thing, apart from a cover page, that I have had every single month since starting. You might be wondering why I have a mood tracker when I also have a mental health tracker. But, they feel like two different things for me. The mood tracker is my overall mood, whereas the mental health tracker goes into a bit more detail. I have 5 different colours in every mood tracker. It goes from a smiley face to a meh face and then to a sad face, with 2 levels in between. Those colours used to be completely random but now I like to have a gradient or for the colours to be similar. Like blue to yellow with green in the middle. I find that it is easier to see how my mood has changed throughout the month that way.
Here are some of my favourites:
I think I’ve spoken about this before on Instagram and maybe my blog too. But for anyone who is new or hasn’t read it, I’ll explain it again.
When I was really depressed, there wasn’t anything much in life I was looking forward to or could become happy about. I was just getting through the day, going to sleep and then repeating the whole thing. It was exhausting. I remember a friend asking me how I get through the days (she also had depression), I didn’t want her to give up like I was almost doing. So instead, I racked my brain. I told her to try and find one thing to look forward to each day. One tiny thing. For me, it was listening to the radio in the morning as I woke up. It was such a minuscule thing, but on the days where I didn’t have to be in college at 9 am, I could listen to the entire show. 6 am – 10 am, and yes I did wake up at 6.
After I told her to try and find something to look forward to in the day, I decided to properly start doing it for myself. So, I made it a page in my bullet journal. I like to write them ahead so I have something to look forward to, some days it’s just that we are having chard with dinner. And as little as that seems, I would never imagine looking forward to eating food so it’s actually a pretty massive thing for me!
During term time, I track how many hours of studying I do per day.
Originally, I created a separate page for some of these but I’ve decided to combine them now.
First, there’s my headache tracker. I used to track the number of glasses of water I drank each day, but it never really improved or I couldn’t remember. I did want to keep tracking my headaches though, I’ve done it ever since I had a really bad migraine.
Next, there’s my reading tracker. I like to know which days I have managed to read something, even if it’s only a page or to – I’m actively trying to read more at the moment.
Then there’s my skincare tracker. I am so bad at looking after my skin, I am always forgetting. I really need to get better at that, and I’m normally fine in the summer because my moisturizer has SPF in it. Either way, I like to know which days I have successfully remembered.
I like to track when I have vitamins. Near my period, I take an iron tablet because I get really faint and when covid started I was taking a multivitamin to strengthen my immune system.
Now the next one is 100% not an eating disorder thing, even though it might seem to contradict my previous post. I have a walk tracker – when I say this, I don’t mean a really long walk. It could be literally just walking down the road. I was wondering whether there was a correlation between when I had bad IBS symptoms and when I did or didn’t go for a walk.
The final thing I track is flossing. I used to be a bit obsessed with flossing, but lately, I seem to have been too tired or whatever. I don’t want my teeth to go bad and keeping up your dental hygiene is super important so I keep a tracker for it now.
Related post: Five-minute habits to change your life by That Mama Club
Monthly to-do list
I started including this page every month, in February. It was when my blog really came on and I needed to make sure I had completed tasks, as well as things I needed to do in my social life. I like having lots of lists and often keep blogging & my life separate, but I just needed some kind of overview.
I love creating my weekly spread. There’s a strip of the themed washi tape at the top. Then I try to write the day in calligraphy and have a checklist of the things I want to do that day. I genuinely don’t know what I would do without a daily list. Even if I’m on holiday, I just need one.
I’ve had this in my monthly set-up for quite a while now and I just love it. Remember those YouTube videos we used to watch where people would film their monthly favourites. Some would be makeup etc. but others had the most random things in, like a pack of quavers. Those were the ones that I would enjoy. So, obviously, I created one! It is something I look forward to filling in at the end of the month.
So there we have it! How my bullet journal helped my mental health ✨
Do you keep a bullet journal?
Best wishes, Cx