19 Bullet Journal Layouts For Tracking Your Mental Health


You may have heard about the idea of a bullet journal, which
is a method of journaling that has been all over the web as
of late.

If you’re not familiar with it, you can learn all about what
it is and how to start one
here.

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That said…we both do choose to put time and effort into our
personal journals because we like it and find that that’s
helpful on multiple levels. And clinical psychologist Andrea
Bonior, PhD, tells BuzzFeed that the mere act of bullet
journaling can be really meaningful, especially if you’re
going through a rough time.

“When your life and emotions feel so out of control or
chaotic, there is something immensely therapeutic about
organizing it into a systematic structure like a bullet
journal,” she says. “You lay things out in an aesthetically
pleasing way and already it feels more manageable. Like you
can really tackle it and make it through. It feels luxurious,
too. It’s like saying ‘I’m worth it.’ I’m worth this notebook
and the time it takes to turn it into something beautiful.”

Whether or not you turn your journal into something
~beautiful~ is up to you! In the meantime, here are some
ways to make it helpful and effective for tracking your
mental health
.

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This is one of the most popular functions of bullet journaling
for mental health. There are a few different ways of organizing
it (like daily, weekly, monthly) and lots of things you might
want to keep track of. Here are some different ways of doing
it, with sample layouts for each…

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3. Next,
consider tracking habits and behaviors — good and bad — that
can affect your mental and physical health.

Next, consider tracking habits and behaviors — good and bad — that can affect your mental and physical health.

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Think: servings of alcohol, servings of caffeine, minutes of
exercise, hygiene, daily habits (like whether you made your
bed or not) and hanging out with friends. Not only will you
be able to see patterns like we mentioned above, but the act
of journaling itself will make you more likely to stick to
you goals.

“There’s an activating factor with tracking things — if you
write it down, you’re more likely to do it, because it holds
you accountable,” says Bonior.

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4. But
before you start tracking your habits, set realistic goals so
you don’t get discouraged if you have an off day (or two or
seven).

It’s only natural that you want your tracker to look perfect
or to reflect your ~best self~ — and to fall into
all-or-nothing thinking. “You’re going to be tempted to be
like, ‘Oh, I filled in that box. I drank too much. Now the
seal has been broken and I ruined it. Now I may as well just
drink tomorrow, too,’” says Bonior.

To help, make sure you’re setting realistic goals. Ask
yourself: What do I want this chart to look like a month from
now? Am I going to be OK with not having totally abstained
from this behavior or done this healthy thing every day?
Don’t set yourself up for failure by expecting your habit
tracker to reflect a lifestyle that’s unattainable.

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5. Next,
you can note your moods.

Next, you can note your moods.

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Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

So, we talked about the importance of tracking moods so you
can really pin down what causes them — like maybe you’ve been
sleeping too little or drinking too much — but also, simply
recognizing your emotions has benefits all on its own.

“If you weren’t keeping track of your mood, it’s easy to try
to push those feelings down and invalidate them,” says
Bonior. “And then they can kind of come back to haunt you,
because you’re not acknowledging that you feel that way.”

There are a few different ways to keep track of your moods
within this layout. You could just color or check the box to
imply “yes, I felt this thing on this day.” You could rate
the intensity of your mood on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1
meaning “kinda felt this way” and 5 meaning “OMG REALLY
STRONGLY FELT THIS WAY”). You could also utilize some kind of
symbol (like the triangle in the above layout) as shorthand
for “I explained more about what I was feeling on another
page.”

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Beyond tracking your daily habits, there are other
cool/smart/helpful things you can do with your bullet journal.
Like…

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11. Instead
of making a daily to-do list, make a “done” list.

Instead of making a daily to-do list, make a "done" list.

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Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

As BuzzFeed has
previously reported, to-do lists make some people more
productive, but for others, it can actually have the opposite
effect, That’s because a to-do list might set you up to feel
bad about the things you don’t accomplish, especially
if you’re dealing with something like depression, which can
make self-motivating really difficult.

Instead, list the things you accomplish as you finish them —
it can give you an instant uptick in your mood and
self-confidence. Yes, we’re totally giving you permission to
add things that are already done to your to-do list just to
enjoy that moment of checking them off.

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14. Create
a template for debriefing after therapy sessions.

Create a template for debriefing after therapy sessions.

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Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

Therapy is wonderful — and can be intense and weighty and
give you a lot to think about. And with all the
important takeaways you’re probably getting, journaling after
each sessions is a helpful tool.

Bonior suggests summarizing what you talked about, pulling
out any key lessons or things you want to remember, going
over what things came up that were hard to talk about and
why, and finally, things you either forgot to bring up or
that you want to remember to talk about next time.

“I think to write things down afterward can give you more
strength to bring it up later,” says Bonior. “It also helps
you validate the feelings that came up in therapy and get
more out of the experience.”

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15. Try a
food-tracking layout to keep track of nutrition and be more
mindful of your eating habits or patterns.

Try a food-tracking layout to keep track of nutrition and be more mindful of your eating habits or patterns.

View this image ›

Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

Only you and your doctor know whether or not food-tracking is
something you can do healthfully, since for some people, it
can lead to obsessive behaviors. But if tracking your food is
something you can do to support a healthy goal, that’s
definitely something that will have a positive impact on your
mental health. Because proper nutrition = better mental
health.

Similarly, you can add a notes section where you can jot down
general feelings to help you spot patterns and make you a
more mindful eater, says Bonior. “In general, mindful eating
— being present and aware of your thoughts so you’re not
eating mindlessly — is a good thing,” she says. “But don’t
overanalyze every bite. Ask things like, ‘How did I feel
during the meal? Was I in the moment? Was I emotional eating
because I was upset? Did that make me feel worse?’ That kind
of thing.”

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And, finally, one more reminder: your journal is for
you and no one else.

A bullet journal should really truly have the nitty gritty of
you, so don’t put form over function. As Bonior explains, “If
you’re so concerned with washi tape and calligraphy, and you
screwed up behaviorally, it’s going to be tempting to be
like, ‘Maybe I won’t put that in there, because I don’t want
to taint this journal that’s supposed to be a beautiful thing
with my negative behavior or my sad thoughts.’”

“But once you get in the habit of not being real within your
journal, it defeats the purpose,” she says. So make your goal
something like, “Sure, I want this to be beautiful,
organized, and reflect that I’m doing well — but more than
that, my goal is that it actually represents my life and
helps me work on things and do better.”

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