Life is crazy. If you’re on this blog it’s probably because you’re a planner and might be juggling quite a few things in your life, usually for other people. It’s so easy to keep running on that treadmill – check the box, yay! Check the box, yay! And before you know your day has become all about checking all the boxes! In the midst of all that, we may be getting tasks accomplished but it’s exceedingly difficult to stay refreshed, fulfilled, balanced, well.
There’s no shortage of articles outlining the necessity to battle against the glorification of busy, learning to say no, increasing mindfulness, yaddy yadda. That’s the first and hardest work – redefining what it means to have a happy, healthy, productive life for yourself. I’ve talked to countless friends, especially in the late 20s, who grapple with what they are “supposed” to be doing right now, in what order, to what extent – that shit is exhausting. So that is the hard part, is asking yourself a few key things:
- What gives me energy? Find more time and ways to do more of that.
- What drains my energy? Find ways to decrease, delegate, eliminate these things.
- How can I structure my time around these things, and create space for the things that matter to me? One way is having a weekly planning meeting – but this can be automation, batching tasks, having a cap of evening commitments, and more.
But then how does that play out, practically, realistically? There are 5 ways I incorporate self-care in my bullet journal.
1. Gratitude Log
One of the foundations of well-being is my mindset, and taking stock of the things that are going well. What we see is what we manifest, and it is really easy to focus on the things that go wrong. We should NOT ignore bad things – it’s also very important for mental health to acknowledge these negative things and move through them. I am not a fan of glossing over the bad. But we can do both acknowledge hardship and push ourselves to find some bright spots to remind ourselves it’s not all bad. Inspired by Kim, I wanted to take stock of the small but brilliant things I’m grateful for each day.
So I’ve tried the gratitude log in several ways, as a collection and incorporated into my Weekly Layout. The collection is neat because you see all your gratitudes grouped together in one place which you can revisit later. If you bullet journal in a traveler’s notebook, you might even have a notebook dedicated to journaling and gratitude. I had to try REALLY hard to keep up with this and eventually stopped doing it because I wouldn’t remember. So I added a row to my weekly layout to jot down some gratitude – this is working so far! Because it’s right in front of me all the time, I remember to do it in the moment, which captures more spontaneous things. What I also appreciate about this is that I can flip back through and see my gratitude in context to my day, which gives a fuller picture.
2. Habit Tracker
Whether you use a daily, weekly, or monthly tracker, you can design what habits you focus on. I talk about it in my habit tracker video a little bit, but if it motivates you to check off the habit box, decide which habits will be critical drivers of self-care.
For me, I know sleep is a huge driver, so one of my habits is getting to bed by midnight. I also endeavor to drink a certain amount of water every day, unwind, avoid soda. The sky is the limit here! Other habits you could include:
- Connect with a friend/loved one
- Low/No Carb
- 10K steps
- Quality time with ____
- Doing something active
- Practice a hobby
Remember though, just focus on a FEW habits – or it’ll do the opposite of recharge you and drain or overwhelm you instead!
3. Keeping a Journal
I’ve done this a couple ways but mainly I’ve had a separate notebook insert in my Foxy Notebook. By keeping it with me, it increased the chances I might do it. Alas, it is a hard habit for me to keep up with, perhaps because I’m always reflecting and processing by nature of my job, but it is helpful nonetheless. There’s something gratifying and horrifying about being able to look back on your journals later and see what 15-year-old you was angsting about… no? Just me?
EITHER WAY – it can be a cool keepsake for you and for family to look back on. It’s sometimes cool to see how far you’ve grown.
4. Self-Care Collections
Sometimes we just need a reminder of all the things we can do to give us energy and care. Whether these things take 5 minutes or 5 hours, you can have a collection that will take the effort out of coming up with an idea. These can be then incorporated into your daily or weekend plans.
5. Logging Moments AND Tasks
This is my favorite thing I’ve started doing. One of the traps of endless need for productivity is that we then measure our days by “how much we get done.” This sets us up for disappointment when we have empty boxes, or when things change and divert our attention… or life happens! I’ve learned a few things about this cycle:
- Sometimes, we suck at knowing our limits. This means we end up writing down way too many tasks than we have time for, leading to empty boxes and sense of falling short
- Sometimes, these aren’t the tasks we need to be doing. Sometimes we find out that a task is just not that important, that it’s no longer relevant, and that it was a fleeting thought.
- And ALWAYS – we are not what we produce or check off. You are not your to do list.
To combat that trap, I’ve added a heart to my icon list – to capture moments and things that happen that make my heart full. This tells my brain that those things are worth just as much as filling out expense justifications, or grading papers. This can be the awesome conversation in passing with a colleague, or yoga breaks at work.
So there’s a few suggestions – but I’ll also add one final one. Remember that you can always take a break from your bullet journal. That’s one of the unique things about it – you won’t waste any space, you don’t HAVE to use the space – just step away, refresh, and return when you can. It will always be there.
How are you incorporating self-care into your bullet journal? Let me know down below!