What is a bullet journal and what does it have to do with mental health?

Mental Health / Friday, January 12th, 2018

If you read my last post, you may be wondering what a bullet journal is and why it’s my latest obsession. I hadn’t really planned on writing anything in detail about it because it didn’t seem to pertain to the blog’s mission but after consistently using it for a month, I’ve realized it’s a huge asset for my mental health and it is definitely worth discussing! I’ve gathered a few testimonials from some Facebook groups I’m in, I really wanted to see if utilizing a bullet journal system had a positive impact on others the way it has for me.

I’ve always been a bit of a list-maker, a few months back I even created this printable, it’s a great starting point for the bullet journal system, and after breaking down my to-do list on my Brain Dump printable, I started looking at other printables like it and discovered the bullet journal system. I have always been a stationary addict, and I’ve bought a regular weekly planner every year since high school. The problem is, I would stop using my planner, I couldn’t keep up with adding things to it, I didn’t open it everyday and look at the to-do lists I made in it, and eventually, it would just be taking up space. It was mid-December when I jumped in to bullet journals, and it seemed like a good time to get my feet wet. I didn’t want to buy a new planner for 2018, knowing it wouldn’t work out.

Okay, first of all, a Bullet Journal is a self-made planner of sorts. There is an “official bullet journal system” but in reality, a bullet journal is anything you want it to be! Mine is a cheap composition notebook that has lists, collections, trackers, calendars, weekly layouts, and doodles. You can make it as detailed, colorful and decorated or minimalist, black and white, and simple as you want! I was worried that the combination of different types of things, the time I would need to spend setting up planning pages and the distraction of making it pretty would bring more chaos to my brain but it’s done just the opposite! I love it so much, that checking the plan for the day is one of the first things I do. It’s disorganized, in that my planning pages are interspersed with lists and trackers, so I often find myself flipping through pages to find the one I need. This allows me to glance at each page, so I’m less likely to miss something just because it’s on a different page.

I have a monthly tracker where I leave a space to mark off the things I need or want to do every day. Some of those things I know I won’t do everyday, I don’t have time to read and crochet each day, but knowing that they are on my tracker reminds me that they are things I enjoy doing. I even put simple things on my tracker, like “morning face wash & brush teeth” and “shower.” These seem like silly things to track, but I’ve heard from others, as well as seeing it for myself, that when depression hits, these things don’t happen. Having it in a tracker lets you see the last time you did them, marking them “done” feels like an accomplishment, and it can really help you break through that fog.

I have been so much more productive since starting my bullet journal, but I’ve also found a wonderful community of people. I reached out to the community for a sort of testimonial for the system and I received a ton of feedback, all of it hugely positive!

I work for a counseling office and deal with anxiety and depression as well. This Bujo thing has been great for organizing my chaos and having a creative outlet.-Andrea A. (Andrea has a blog as well, you can find it here!)

I have things like “get up be 11,” “shower,” and “leave the house” on my habit tracker. I know that if I don’t check some of these off in a few days, I need to reach out and get help.-Michele A.

I have Autism and Anxiety Disorder as well as other mental and physical disabilities. My two children are both autistic and have a physical disability. My husband has been injured from being a carer. My eldest is gifted, and my youngest is gifted in some areas and delayed in others. Our lives are not boring! I’ve been using my bullet journal for a couple of months now, and it has helped reduce my anxiety so very much. I am keeping track of various things, such as how well I sleep and how often I leave the house. I am keeping track of our medical appointments – how often we have them, when they are due as well as lists of things to talk about while we are there. I am keeping track of personal goals and aspirations. By using my bullet journal to make lists of things I want to do, I am actively living my best life. Using a bullet journal has also been great in helping our family keep on top of normal everyday things, such as the household chores. I love the flexibility of a bullet journal. It is exactly what I need it to be, I love how everything is together so that when I go to see my doctor, I only need to take one book with me and it has all the information in it. Nothing is for everyone and maybe bullet journalling isn’t for you, however I highly recommend people give it a try if they are trying to take back their life in anyway (or even if they aren’t). Start out with just a notebook and a pen, simple pages and lists and work out where you would like it to go from there!-LindaMadHatter

I have anxiety and it can be very crippling at times, it used to be hell for me having to go to the store. I didn’t get much done in general. Now, with my bujo, I get shitloads of stuff done, I love being able to tick something off my to-do list. I also track the good things every day in my gratitude log and I need at least 4/7 days of selfcare. Its the little things about the bujo that keep me sane. It’s my little magical book!-Kyra E.

I use it to help me with my ADHD. I forget everything so it works as standard planner, but I also get really bored with things so it allows me the freedom to change it, add or remove pages, and it’s also a creative outlet for me which is the way I achieve meditation.-Ericka T.

I started bullet journaling exclusively to help my ADD, anxiety, and depression. I love the trackers that help keep me motivated to stay on track. And the journaling aspect gives me a space to put all my worries and frustrations that I allow my husband to read so we can talk through all the things bothering me.-Shelby W.

I have PTSD (non-military), ADD, OCD, Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures, Anorexia/Bulimia, Dermatillomania, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Agoraphobia, and Chronic Depression. My BuJo helps me with my eating disorder recovery. I’m held accountable for actually EATING consistently and properly. Every day. I keep track of when I use my Breathe App my therapist asked me to do. Meditations. I have to keep a tracker to remind me to do simple things. Shower, brush my teeth, wash my face… I keep track of what I’m doing each day and when I seize to keep an eye out for patterns beyond “stressed/over-exertion”. Same for panic/anxiety attacks, flashbacks, medications. Of course I can keep track of therapy appointments. It hasn’t really helped with my OCD. I still can’t breathe if I’m handed the wrong spoon. I still count letters in sentences over and over until I can’t breathe and so much more. BUT it just occurred to me, I do have to count letters and words to make them fit properly in my BuJo and I’m able to do that but know I can move on because I can actually see it instead of doing it in my head over and over. Um…as far as my ADD…I guess it just gives me something CONSTRUCTIVE to hyperfocus on. I have a tracker for not touching my face or scratching/picking at my skin to help with my dermatillomania and look for triggers. I keep track of my hobbies and that can show me patterns regarding my depression if I continue them and pushes me to keep going forward with them. I’m disabled and can’t work so keeping my mind active at home day in and day out is essential. My BuJo is essential to combating and learning to work around my mental health issues.-Meagan M.

I have suffered from depression since I was 7. Let’s just say that’s been a “few” years ago. I now share my story with anyone who will listen (and some who won’t). You just never know who you might help by sharing. I also have ADD. I started bullet journaling early last year. I immediately noticed I was getting more done and forgetting things less often. This year I’ve taken it a step further and spent a lot of time planning goals for the year and set up my BuJo to help me achieve those!-Gretchen M.

I have a multiple personality type disorder (it’s basically personality based bipolar). I also have crippling anxiety, short term memory loss, fibromyalgia, celiacs disease, which has cause severe malnutrition and malabsorption. An under active thyroid and times when my legs just suddenly stop working or go numb.
My main thing is that bullet journals are so flexible that I can have things for my different personalities all in one book rather than one for each. And with my terrible memory it allows me to keep all information in one place, something no traditional journal can do for me. I have trackers for everyday things, like showering and brushing my teeth, and trackers for when my personalities shift. Also for pain, energy level, symptoms and a record of medication dosages and changes. It’s really helpful when trying to see any patterns.
One thing I’ve found helpful over the year and a bit I’ve been using my journal is having a tracker to record when I’ve been productive and what I’ve done during the day. It can really help stop me getting down on myself for not doing enough or being productive enough. It also helps stop the feelings that I’m going crazy because I’ve forgotten or missed something.
I’m also a seamstress and generally creative person so it’s also great to keep track of projects and supplies as well as having a place to keep all random doodles and sketches I make.-Elizabeth M.

I just recently started my Bujo after finding out after 3 miscarriages that I have precancerous cells in my uterus. Needless to say this has caused me both physical, emotional pain and anxiety. I started my Bujo to be more organized through the fog of pain. And to release my creativity. I’m loving it so far. Hopefully I can continue to use it and get better at tracking things.-Marissa A.

As you can see, bullet journalling helps so many people in so many ways! If you search Pinterest, you will see some beautiful bullet journal pages, lists of “necessary” supplies and detailed spreads. Don’t feel overwhelmed! You don’t need any of that. Just start somewhere, a notebook, a pen, and some ideas are all you need!


You can see examples of my bullet journal on my dedicated instagram. You’ll see it’s far from perfect, but it does exactly what I need it to!


Because of all of this support from the bullet journal groups I have joined, I created my own Facebook group! It’s an extension of this blog, with loads of encouragement! At this time, many of the members are bullet journallers, but it is not exclusive, so feel free to join up to be a part of the community. If you’re interested in learning more about bullet journalling, especially in regards to mental balance, it is a great place to ask! Join here: We’re in this together – a community to encourage mental wellness & balance