Mental Health Benefits of Bullet Journaling - a personal story

@bujowithbeth (from Instagram) has kindly written a blog for us to explain how bullet journaling has helped her mental health (see also our earlier blog post here)...

I’m here to discuss how the Bullet Journal system has benefited my mental health in today’s post. I honestly can’t imagine my life without a Bullet Journal beside me, being my companion, my friend, my organiser and my relief. I can vouch for this incredible system and how much it has helped me and I think it can help others too so let’s go back to the beginning.

I first discovered the Bullet Journal system in February 2017. I was 17 years old in the midst of my A Levels and I was struggling. I had recently been diagnosed with GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder) and depression so it was a difficult time for me. I had made a Studygram in the hopes that it would motivate me in regards to revision and it was through this that I discovered the Bullet Journal system.

I remember seeing so many beautiful pictures on Instagram. There were so many spreads full of colour, calligraphy, doodles and more. Even the minimalistic spreads caught my eye because of how gorgeous they were. I specifically remember saying “I want to do that.” I then did some research and found Ryder Carroll’s (the creator of the Bullet Journal system) video and I was immediately sold. I rushed out to get a notebook and since then I have never looked back.

I have gone through seven notebooks since that day. It’s become such a focal point of my life. But how has it benefited my mental health?

I believe there are two categories or reasons that I can focus on to explain why Bullet Journaling has helped my mental health: the system itself and designing the system.

The System

The basic principle of the Bullet Journal system, according to Ryder Carroll, is “to track the past, organise the present and plan for the future.” It’s a very flexible system which has definitely evolved over time. I like to think of it as a flexible planner. I can do what I want and that works for me.

As someone who gets very anxious, I like things to be organised. I like to plan my time and keep track of various things in order to keep myself composed. However, I also like a little bit of flexibility. I find planners to be too restricting which is why I like the system so much. I can have weekly layouts, daily logs and everything in between. Depending on the situation, I can put that into my notebook with no trouble.

Furthermore, because the system has evolved so much, I can include other spreads to help out not just with organisation but mental health too. For example, my mood tracker allows me to keep track of my mood over time. I have a sleep tracker to see how much sleep I’m getting to see whether this has impacted my mood. My favourite spread to do for my mental health though is a gratitude log.

(This is a gratitude log created by Eva.)

Every day I write down something that I’m grateful for and this allows me to find the positives in just the smallest of things such as sleeping for eight hours or having a giggle. All of this combined together has massively helped my mental health.

Designing the System

Designing the system basically means the process of creating spreads. A Bullet Journal can be as simple or as colourful as you want it to be which I love. Again, it adds to the flexibility of the system which appeals to me.

I always used to find colouring books therapeutic when I was younger (I still do) and it helped out massively with my anxiety and depression. When I discovered I could add colour and doodles and other bits of stationery to my Bullet Journal, I was very happy because it gave me something to focus on. I always look forward to the time of the month where I get to sit down with my journal and plan for the next month. Coming up with themes and then putting those ideas to paper really calms me down. I could spend hours and hours planning spreads in pencil and then colouring them in once I’m done.

So you see, it all links up. Flexibility. That’s what makes me appreciate the Bullet Journal system so much. Without it, I dread to think where I would be. I know I will be continuing with this system for some time even if my style changes down the line. But hey, the system is so flexible that it doesn’t matter if that happens.