Have you heard of bullet journaling? Originally used as an organizational tool, it’s become incredibly popular for its mental health benefits. Learn more about these journals and how to use one to improve your mental well-being.
What are Bullet Journals?
Bullet journals flip the script on how typical journaling is done. Instead of simply writing long entries, bullet journaling involves turning your daily routine into easy-to-understand data points. These journals feature lists, charts, graphs, and other structured formatting so you can easily keep track of all the details and visually view progress.
This new way of journaling has taken off as a popular self-care trend. If you feel best when you’re well-prepared, you can use it to track your activities and important events. It’s similar to a day planner in that it can function as a planner, to-do list, and diary all in one.
Besides being a great organizational aide, a bullet journal can offer mental health benefits as well. Use it to track your thoughts and moods, note your energy levels, stay on top of your medication schedule, and take notes in therapy sessions. This process allows you to detect patterns in your emotional well-being as it relates to other tasks and challenges going on in your life.
In addition, bullet journals are excellent for setting goals and recognizing your accomplishments over time. While providing a place to describe the nitty-gritty details of your everyday routine, these journals also help you to see the bigger picture and celebrate positive events and achievements.
Bullet Journal Benefits for Mental Health
There’s been a growing interest in the scientific community regarding the effects of journaling on mental health. A 2013 depression treatment study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that people with major depressive disorder (MDD) had significantly lower depression scores after participating in an exercise where they wrote about their deepest thoughts and feelings surrounding an emotional event. Similar effects were found in a 2014 Health Benefits of Expressive Writing study where participants with substance abuse disorders experienced less severe depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic symptoms after writing about emotional topics.
Physically writing down how you feel (as opposed to talking about it or typing it on a computer) appears to be linked to processing the emotions in a different way. Psychologist Lara Jakobsons, MD agrees, saying that bullet journaling for mental health “forces you to slow down and leads you to mindfulness.” She also describes the benefits, including the way it helps to identify stressors and solutions, provide illuminating insights, and boost personal confidence.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about bullet journaling is that it can help with a wide variety of mental health challenges. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, journaling for mental health can be a helpful tool for managing stress, anxiety disorders, and some mood disorders, such as MDD, persistent depressive disorder, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
How to Fill Out Your Bullet Journal
So how do you get started? There are many bullet journals out there. You can create your own from scratch with a blank journal, where you’ll have to spend time getting your journal set up by creating your own headlines, charts, graphs, and lists for the various details you’ll be tracking. There are also bullet journals you can purchase online. Fortunately, Ketamine Clinics Los Angeles created a free mental health bullet journal tailored specifically to track the physical and mental behaviors known to impact mood and anxiety disorders. Our journal is all set up and ready to go with templates in place.
If you want to improve your mental health, you’ll love the KCLA bullet journal because it’s designed with emotional well-being in mind. Here’s a walk-through of each page so you can see how to fill out your bullet journal on a regular basis.
KCLA Bullet Journal: Monthly View (Page 1)
The first page of the KCLA bullet journal features a monthly overview. Start by writing down all your scheduled therapy sessions in the left-hand column, including talk therapy, Ketamine Infusion Therapy, and any other therapeutic practices you’re using for your mental health.
Use this page once a day to track your energy, hours of sleep, water intake, and exercise on each corresponding chart. Use the energy chart at the top as a guide—the numbers listed along the bottom represent each day of the month, so you’ll start to see patterns form as you log your info. Use the Mood Tracker key to fill in the colored bubbles for your associated overall daily mood.
In the Monthly Wins space, write down some of your goals for the month to help you stay on track. You can check off goals as you achieve them and write down other accomplishments you’ve achieved throughout the month, like getting good feedback at work or scheduling a doctor appointment you’ve been putting off.
KCLA Bullet Journal: Weekly View (Page 2)
The weekly view provides more mental and physical insight by logging daily self-care habits and emotional thoughts. If you’ve had trouble coming up with something to write in a journal in the past, we have you covered. Our bullet journal includes writing prompts to help you get started. This is a great way to evaluate your experiences and emotions throughout the week.
On the other side of the page, you’ll find a weekly habit checklist. Being able to mark off self-care tasks can provide a confidence boost when you’re dealing with stress or depression, and the Rants section at the bottom can be helpful when you need to relieve anxiety.
KCLA Bullet Journal: Trigger Tracker & Therapy Notes (Page 3)
On the fourth page of the journal, you’ll find the Trigger Tracker. This space is crucial for identifying your biggest mental health challenges and coming up with effective solutions. It’s conveniently located next to your Therapy Notes so you can discuss these triggers with your therapist and develop effective coping mechanisms to overcome them.
KCLA Bullet Journal: Self-Care Goal Tracker (Page 4)
Page four of the journal is all about giving yourself some TLC. Jot down your Daily Self-Care Goals so you remember to enjoy some “me time,” even if it’s just for a few minutes each day. Use affirmations to provide positive encouragement along the way.
The Self-Care Goal Tracker helps you to prioritize your emotional and physical well-being throughout the year. Try to do a little something for yourself each day so that the chart is as close to full as possible by the end of the year.
Helpful tips from people who journal include logging notes and habits at the beginning and end of each day. In the mornings, your journal can help you set the tone and recall your goals for the day. Before bed, you can get your journal out again to take stock of the day and evaluate your highs and lows.
Whether you’re naturally organized or aspire to be more organized, tracking your mood and energy levels, taking notes in therapy, and marking down specific triggers that affect you during the day, is the first step to improving your mental health.
Don’t let depression, anxiety, or stress steal your joy. Consider how simple organizational changes could help you master your mental health. Use this premade Mental Health Bullet Journal from Ketamine Clinics Los Angeles to get started today!