Hi lovelies! Quite a few of you have gotten in touch recently to ask me about my wellbeing journal. I posted a couple of pictures on my instagram, and this sparked a whole lot of questions, so I thought I’d write a blog post filling you in on what I do and how I do it.
If you don’t know about Bullet Journaling, you can find out the basics here. Then have a squiz around on Pinterest at all the amazing things people do with their bullet journals. Most people use them as productivity and organisational tools, and I tried that, but I found that it wasn’t that useful for me in that way. I have my Get to Work Book, and the awesome systems I set up when I took Caylee’s Level Up class, and they suit me really well when It comes to getting things done.
For me, having a customisable diary is most useful when I comes to managing my health.
Health-wise, I’m a bit of a special snowflake. I have a list of diagnoses as long as my arm (and I have unusually long arms), and staying on top of them can at best feel like a full time job, and at worst a losing battle.
I have to keep a range of health professionals apprised of how I’m doing, as well as maintain perspective when my mental and physical health are pushing me to extremes. Data, I am learning, is everything.
And for me, this is what collecting data looks like:
Here I began by tracking mood and energy levels, while also taking note of my menstrual cycle, and migraines and headaches. I’m hoping that over time this will help me learn to tease out how much hormonal fluctuations effect my bipolar, and learn about other brain/body/environment interactions too.
As you might be able to see, I showed this to my therapist, who suggested I track my anxiety as a separate value, and that’s also been quite illuminating.
(You may also notice that July was a reasonably crappy month for me. August is off to a way better start.)
I find it useful to add qualitative information to the more quantitative data that the monthly graph supplies. It is useful to know that my energy was low on such-and-such a date, but it’s more meaningful if I know that I had a panic attack the night before, or was in the midst of a bout of insomnia. These few little dot points each day just make the whole picture a bit clearer.
At the end of each week I also doodle a border at the top of the pages. This makes things pretty, but it has the added, more meaningful function of giving me the opportunity to reflect on what my week was like on a more holistic level.
As you can see below, the week of July 11-17th was spent mostly in bed with cups of tea, my fluffy unicorn wheat bag, some solid medication, and a very bleak mood. The following week was more productive and I started to see an increase in my mood in response to that. So already I’m learning that working and feeling useful are good for my mind.
Tracking good habits:
When you’re a person who has to work hard to stay healthy and positive, it’s good to have a list of things that, when done regularly, make you feel good. It’s a general to-do list for wellbeing.
Mine looks like this:
As you can see, when I’m struggling with ill-health and depression, I stop engaging with many of the very activities that are supposed to help me feel better. Having a visual representation of this gives me undeniable evidence that I could be doing more for myself, and (at least theoretically) gives me a really clear plan for how I can improve on that.
It almost always means write more and make more art.
So those are the three main ways I use a Bullet Journal-style approach to managing my health. I hope you’ve found this useful – if you decide to use a similar system I’d LOVE to hear about it!