I have been meaning to write a blog about bullet journaling for a while but really didn’t know where to start. Until I received this set of questions for a guest post which didn’t end up happening. But I am so grateful for them because it gave me a framework to focus on. It allowed me to order my many thoughts. So here we are, my guide to bullet journaling. I share my story; how I journal; what it helps me with; and why I would recommend it.
When did you first start journaling for wellness/self-care?
I began journaling on 3rd January 2020 and have continued ever since with no feeling of stopping any time soon. Little did I know what a year 2020 was going to turn out to be! The reason I began journaling was that I had just been admitted into hospital for an admission that would end up being 3 months long. I desperately needed some way to communicate how I was feeling and express myself. I felt so trapped and that I couldn’t understand myself so how on earth could anyone else understand me. I had a basic blank A5 notebook and black biro with me and from my hospital bed I just started to write. Ever since then journaling has been a way for me to order my thoughts, record events and memories, and of course fill with inspirational quotes, postcards and stickers.
What is your favourite method of journaling (e.g. art/scrapbooking, free-flow writing, following a journal’s prompts etc)?
I have my own version of bullet journaling. I had tried to keep a diary at many other points throughout my life. But each time I became obsessed with having to capture every moment of every day which meant daily entries took me so long and eventually I would give up. Bullet journaling gives me total freedom to write, draw, montage whatever I want no pressure. There is no structure or rules to what I do. Some days I may have multiple entries and then I won’t write anything for perhaps a couple of days. I have filled six journals now over the past 19 months. One of those has been an actual bullet journal but the other four are just basic A5 blank notebooks.
How do you feel journaling most benefits your wellness/mental health?
I struggle with extensive mental and physical health problems and sometimes it can just get all too overwhelming. Journaling gives me a place where I don’t need to worry about saying the right thing or how my words might make other people feel. Whatever I am thinking, however muddled, I can express it. I can doodle little drawings to try and understand how I am feeling. They are very basic in artistic talent (talking stick figures here) but they make sense to me. Having things in my mind make sense then helps me to tackle them. I use mind maps in similar ways. I can have lots of lines leading out to everything in my mind connected to a particular topic. Often it helps me to identify links between things and work out what the problem really is.
I also record significant moments, the good and bad, from both my health and life in general. That means I can look back on how far I have come. I also just love collecting postcards and quotes that resonate with me so when I am struggling I can flick back through my journals to give myself a lift.
How do you fit journaling into your day? (e.g. part of morning/evening routine)
I don’t really have a set routine for journaling. I just make sure that I always have my journal and pen with me so I can write when I feel I have something to say. That increases the amount it helps my mental health too because I have access to my journal when I need it. It also ensures I don’t feel pressure to have to journal at particular times.
Why would you recommend journaling to others?
It really is something anyone can do. Don’t feel you have to produce Instagram worthy pages of beauty, just record what feels right to you. So often we can’t fully process our thoughts until we can clearly understand them. Writing things down is a great way to achieve that clarity. For me my journal is the one place I can be completely myself and don’t have to moderate what I want to say. As well, I can record coping strategies and advice that people have given me. In writing not only does it record it so I don’t forget but allows me to process the advice.
You have nothing to loose by starting journaling, other than possibly the cost of a notebook and pen. I never thought I could get into diary writing but bullet journaling really has transformed the way I think about journaling. It has been so helpful for my mental health, memory keeping and creativity.