Y’all, it’s been fun featuring other talented bullet journal folks on the blog – you get a taste of how other people bullet journal for their own needs, plus it’s helpful for me as a blogger during the craziest times of the semester (grading research paper drafts is NO. JOKE.). This week is no exception to my excitement- Alec used to work with me at my day job and he is a talented and passionate advocate for social change in the world. When he told me he was bullet journaling I knew the world was in for an artistic and *real treat. Enjoy – perhaps it will resonate with your story too.
When Jessica asked me to write a blog post for her website, I found myself stuck between two core concepts: my story as a bullet journalist, and my advice to anyone who wants to tackle their mental health struggles using bullet journaling. After considering both options, I decided to combine them into one post. I hope you can learn something from my experience! Thank you for reading 🙂
Two years ago, I found myself in a metaphorical locked room with the walls & ceiling crumbling down around me. My purpose was dwindling, my long-term relationship was over, college was becoming overwhelming, and I felt that I had no control over the things that were happening around me.
In my time of struggle, I had a friend recommend looking into making a list of goals for my future. Their suggestion was made in hopes that I would use these goals to highlight the possibility & positivity in my life. I spent an entire morning drafting a list, and by the end of it I felt refreshed, hopeful, and ready to change my outlook on my situation.
Throughout the next semester, I spent my time exploring new ways of jotting down goals and weekly to-do items. I found that investing a few minutes each morning to brainstorm my daily goals was a form of meditation that worked for me (I had tried yoga and realized very quickly that it wasn’t the most effective way of centering myself). It gave me a sense of control over my day, even if things happened that I couldn’t foresee (life tends to do that!). It wasn’t until I noticed the work of my previous co-worker Jessica that I realized the things I had been doing had a name: Bullet Journaling.
My style of bullet journaling has transformed and grown over the last two years, which reflects the growth in my own life and the curiosity I have for the world. Some people prefer to stay with the same layouts for each month, which I respect and admire – it takes commitment and skill to find a style that works perfectly for you! However, I’ve find inspiration in new posts by bullet journalists every day and love adapting different styles or techniques in the planning I do to reflect that inspiration. The posts I do differ vastly week to week, which I attribute to my changing mood and shifting needs for my mental health.
The amount of growth & self-discovery I’ve been able to explore through bullet journaling has elevated my spirits exponentially, changed me as a person, and allowed me to be more productive in all aspects of my life.
As a young professional who struggles with depression and anxiety, I often feel unable to channel my negative energy into positive actions. Bullet journaling has given me that outlet! For anyone who is also struggling with mental illness and would like to use bullet journaling as a self-therapy, here are some points of advice I would like to share with you:
1. Journal Consistently: Make sure to journal thirty minutes every morning when you wake up. The repetition will assist in establishing a routine for you to follow, and taking thirty minutes every day to focus on your daily goals will help center you for the rest of the day!
2. Set Up A Mood Tracker: I use a mood tracker to see how my mood fluctuates based on the time of day, the weather, and what I ate that day. I keep track of weather & food every month on separate tracker pages, but when combined they assist in my “end of month” reflection!
3. Set Up A Gratitude Log: Something that kept me positive when I was feeling depressed was a gratitude log. Ending each day by writing “I’m thankful because” lifted my spirits and allowed me to reflect on why I loved that day. Even on the tough days, I found myself writing things like “thankful to be alive today”. There is always something to be thankful for, even if some days it might be hidden a little bit more!
4. Don’t Be Afraid To Get Creative: Many people prefer the minimalist style of bullet journaling. Many people prefer to use color illustrations on their bullet journal spreads. Why not use both? I’ve found using both helps me feel more creative, expands my mind, and allows me to get out of my head when I feel my anxiety creeping in!
5. Don’t Strive For Perfection: Trying to get the perfect page? Don’t do it. It doesn’t exist! Your bullet journaling shouldn’t be perfect – I spent way too many days stressing over the quality of my spreads before realizing it was stressing me out more than it should be! Some of my favorite spreads have emerged from making a mistake and working with it instead of starting over!
6. Share, Don’t Compare: It can be easy to compare your work to other people’s spreads on Instagram and Pinterest, but what good does that do? If we spend time comparing instead of sharing, we are losing our potential to connect and create a deeper & more meaningful online community. Everyone’s work is different, everyone’s style can be unique, and your spreads are valid and important!
7. Embrace The Community: The bullet journaling community is amazing! Since posting my work, I have discovered how many people are supporting one another and are lifting each other up based around their love of the “bujo”. I’ve been a part of many communities over the years, but nothing has compared to the support I have found within the bullet journaling community. If you feel lonely or isolated, reach out to other bullet journalers – you may surprise yourself with the new connections you’ll form!
Thank you for reading my reflections on bullet journaling – if you are struggling with mental health I hope you find something in my post able to assist you! Together we can remain strong and find the light even on days where there seems to be only darkness. If you’re just starting out as a bullet journalist I hope you can incorporate a few of my ideas into your journals! If you are already established, I hope you continue and find time to reflect on your own journey – I found it to be quite an experience.
Do you think the bullet journal has helped give you peace of mind and helped your mental health? I’d love to hear your story below!
Alec is an award-winning director, content creator, bullet journalist, and avid eater of brownies. He hopes his work will inspire and empower others to follow their passions and live every day to its fullest. You can follow his journey on Instagram @alecfischr, or via his etsy site: https://www.etsy.com/shop/FischrJournals