Bullet Journals: The Newest Trend in Mental Health
What's a Bullet Journal?
Well, technically, a "bullet journal" is simply a journal with bullet points already printed on its pages in order to help the writer organize their thoughts better. However, the newest trend in mental health is using these journals (or any journal for that matter) to unleash all your thoughts and feelings you experience throughout the day—the good and the bad—and help you track these feelings and reflect on them later or remind yourself of certain points throughout the day.
" (The Bullet Journal) was created to help you track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future.”— Ryder Carroll
Here are a few things I'd suggest getting to start your first Bullet Journal:
- A Journal (obviously)—any type, most people use blank pages but mine is lined
- Colored markers, pens, pencils, etc.
- Stickers (optional)
- A stenciling kit (optional)
- Ruler (optional, more for if you're OCD like me)
- Tape (optional, more for if you like to include little keepsakes throughout your journaling journey)
The Perfect Pens for Journaling
I cannot stress this enough—you DO NOT need fancy pens or markers in every color of the rainbow. This is simply a popular option when it comes to bullet journaling and I, personally, love using these pens. I think it makes decorating the pages more fun and helps draw my eye to certain things that I wanted to stand out.
"A bullet journal is just a notebook that accommodates a huge variety of planning schemes. You can create calendars and to-do lists, and you can also use it as a diary, a brainstorming notepad, and more. If you’ve ever bought a planner, but didn’t love the design of the pre-printed pages, the bullet journal is your opportunity to make a planner that fits the way your brain works. "— Beth Skwarecki, of LifeHacker.com
What to Write About
Now that we have all our supplies, we can finally get to the fun part.
Bullet Journaling is supposed to be stress relieving over anything else. For me, I try to journal every night before I go to bed or any time something significant happens in my day. The content of your pages, however, is completely up to you! My personal method is logging onto Pinterest every night and searching "bullet journal entry ideas" and taking what I like and making it my own. Some days I just write down what I did, other days I write down quotes I like, and sometimes I just doodle until I feel content. Popular entries for bullet journals include:
- Mood Tracker (graph or drawing): Some do this by year and others by month, but make some sort of graph or drawing with a box for every day of the month/year and a key on the side or bottom with all the different moods you might feel in a day and then color in the box respectively at the end of each day. To me, this is a very settling step to me. It's easy to get lost in our bad days and forget how great the rest of our days have been. With a mood tracker, it requires me to really look back at my day and see if I had a bad day or just a bad moment, and to also realize that the rest of my week/month/year wasn't as bad as I thought either.
- Calendar/Reminders: Another big function of bullet journals is for memory. A journal is an easy thing to carry with you at all times and jot quick notes down into and look back at later to help remember important things. It could be meetings, to-do's, or even a Netflix recommendation your coworker gave you at work that day.
- Quotes: Everyone has that album in their phones of good quotes they saw scrolling through Facebook that applied a little too much to their life at one point and wanted to remember. Well, phones are great for that purpose, but with a Bullet Journal, you can jot down quotes you see, hear, or say throughout your day and look back to on another day when you need to hear it again. This can include the quotes you see on your Pinterest feed, hear in your favorite podcast, or a nice thing someone says to you during your day that you don't want to forget. I like to include in my journal nice things people say to me so I never forget that people still appreciate me, even during my worst days.
- Things to do/watch/try: Some people like to dedicate an entire page or two to lists that you can add to over the course of time. Some of my favorites I've seen on Pinterest are "Movies I'd Like To Watch" and "Places I'd Like To Go." This is a nice tool for those Friday nights when you want to watch a movie on Netflix but can't decide which one or forget to add one to your Watchlist. But it can also act as a sort of Bucket List. I like listing places i'd like to go in the world and feel extra grateful when I get to check them off my list.
- Doodles: Honestly, there are just some days that I have nothing to say and would just rather sketch a little instead. And the best part is that the journal is for your eyes only so it doesn't matter if you have the artist skills of a 2nd grader like me! And if I'm bored in a meeting or class, I like to doodle on other pages of my bullet journal so that my quotes and bullets have nice drawings surrounding them that make the pages look a little happier!
- Keepsakes: This is one of my favorite parts of bullet journaling. How many times have you opened up a fortune cookie, really liked your fortune and then threw it away or in a drawer, never to be seen again? I know I have too many times to count. Collecting small things like ticket stubs, fortunes, and notes can make your life seem more cluttered, but with a bullet journal, you now have an organized place to put these little trinkets and also remember what else happened on that day or how you were feeling at the time! This gives your keepsakes a narrative and more dimension than some crumpled piece of paper with soy sauce stains on it.
Bullet Journals Are for You and You ALONE!
I cannot stress enough that bullet journaling is only what YOU make of it. You don't have to copy every single entry you see on Pinterest or follow the few ideas I mentioned in this article—journaling is all about self-expression and bullet journals are a simpler, faster way to do so. If you prefer to use a black pen and just write down your feelings, great! If you use a 64-color pen set and create an art piece for each and every aspect of your day, that's perfect!
The main point of bullet journaling is to have a safe place to throw down your feelings at the end of the day and be able to look back on later. Sometimes we just need to write things down and reflect upon them at a different time to fully digest and understand. With Bullet Journaling, we can look back at our good times and hold onto those feelings for longer, and on our bad days, we can put those feelings onto a page and leave them there so we don't carry them for longer than we need to.