How to Reduce Anxiety With Bullet Journaling
Truth be told, the original bullet journals are super boring. When I first saw them last year, I was just like no. Then, I noticed (on Pinterest, of course), that people were starting to get crazy creative with them! They were drawing with bright colors, making cute little headers and arrows, and some even used washi tape. I've never been a washi tape addict, but once I started bullet journaling, the madness began.
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Brain Dumps Ease Anxiety.
I use bullet journaling as a brain dump. I am not good with the whole key/symbols thing, it's just not me, but I do have an index up front that says which things end up where. There's no real rhyme or reason to how I do my bullet journaling. I open a page, use it (usually a few at a time), and then write in the index up front what's on those pages. Most people are way more organized than I am when it comes to their bullet journals, but for me it's just more fun to leave it a mess.
At night, I have a small notebook by my bed and I always jot down things that are running through my head before I fall asleep. The next morning, if those things are still inspiring to me (usually they are, but sometimes they're not), I'll add them to my bullet journal.
Sometimes I'll do a mind map – a big circle with smaller circles connected to it – to create and explore ideas for my blog (and my life). My bullet journal has helped me get my blog organized better than it has been in ten years since I started blogging! I always jot down blog post ideas, and now I even have posts scheduled out for the next 6 weeks. That's something I've never been “together” enough to do, so I'm super proud of it.
Colors + Pretties Make Us Less Anxious.
Colors make me happy, so I have
way too many a nice little collection of pens. Staedtler Pens are my favorite. I use them in my coloring books as well. I bought a pack of 36 for about $20. They have lasted me forever (still going strong!).
I use tabs, not really for decorative purposes but so I know where everything is without having to look at the index. Tabs help me stay organized with minimal effort.
I also tend to use a lot of stickers (dollar store), washi tape (use coupons at Michael's), and other pretties… which totally aren't technically “bujo approved”, but I love them and they make me happy!
The bullet journal I use is the one with a grid (this one). I think most people use the journals with dots, and then use a ruler, and all this other stuff I don't have time or energy to care about using… just do what works for you.
Habit Trackers Keep Us Accountable.
I have tons of bad habits. There, I said it. Woosah. Just had to get that out of the way. Seriously, though, the number of bad habits I'd like to break is much higher than I'm going to admit. Instead, I'm just going to tell you that bullet journaling is a great way to break bad habits and encourage good habits.
– weight loss
– fitness (walking every day, or working up to a half-marathon even!)
– hydration: 10+ cups of water each day
– stop a bad habit: smoking, nail biting, etc
Thought Logs Keep Us Honest.
Another thing to track when it comes to anxiety, ADD, and other mental issues some of us are so blessed with, is a “thought log”. Whether you write pages and pages, just a few words, or use symbols to signify a good or bad day, tracking your moods and thoughts can help decrease anxiety. If you are on any medications, tracking those – logging when you remember to take them, what the side effects are, how they make you feel, etc – is a great way to keep up with everything when your doctor asks how things are going.
In your thought log, ask yourself how you're feeling and be honest with your answers. Other questions I like to ask:
- How can I help someone today?
- Who can I help today, where will I find them?
- What's the best thing that happened today? What's the worst?
- Is today a glass half empty or glass half full kind of day? Why?
- Are you allowing others to affect your attitude? How can you stop?
- What's one WIN you had today?
- What's one goal you're working towards? What steps are you taking to reach this goal?
Gratitude Logs Help Ground Us.
A trend I've noticed in the bullet journal community that is really awesome is the gratitude log. Whether you're writing what you're thankful for several times a day or just once or twice a week, remember that being thankful is a great way to reduce anxiety.
When I look around and think my world is going to shit, I write in my gratitude log and talk about how thankful I am that we were able to buy our own house this year, and that I finally figured out how to raise my credit score enough to do that and a million other things.
We were living in a homeless shelter ten years ago, I was forced to give Josephine up for adoption eight years ago, and many other things have happened in between. So to whine about anything right now seems trivial. Keeping a gratitude log keeps me in check.
Do's and Don'ts of Bullet Journaling
Keep it simple. Your bullet journal is a creative outlet to help reduce your anxiety and stress levels. It is not something you need to overcomplicate (steer clear of Pinterest if you tend to do this). Just go with the flow. If you don't feel like having a daily to do list, or a weekly log, then don't have one. Add what you want, skip what you don't.
Remember your why. Your bullet journal should not become extra stress for you in any way, shape, or form. Remember why you started bullet journaling and what you love about it. If you've gotten too far off the beaten path and are freaking out over how to draw the perfect calendars, headers, etc, just take a step back and breathe. Get back to the basics and learn to enjoy it again.
Don't stress over mistakes. This one gets me every time. If I make a mistake, misspell a word, or draw a crooked line, I want to scrap the whole page. You can't really do that with bullet journaling because then you'll have ripped pages and it'll just be… ugly. And if you're
neurotic anything like me, you'll have a torn page and want to scrap the whole book. When I pay $20 for a journal, I'm not about to scrap it! Turn your mistakes into drawings, and realize that mistakes give your bullet journal character.
Don't compare your bullet journal to anyone else's. Obviously this goes for everything in life, we should never compare ourselves to others because in our minds we will always come up short. I'm not an artist, and my handwriting isn't the best, but if I spent all my time trying to perfect the “fonts” I'm using in my bullet journal, it's not really going to be mine, right? It would just be an imitation of someone else's. That's not what bullet journaling is about – at least not for me.