MH@H Mental Health

How My Bullet Journalling Style Has Evolved

How my journalling style has evolved

Skinnyhobbit was recently asking about my bullet journalling setup, and now I’m finally getting around to writing about it.

I’ve journalled off and on since I was a kid. I didn’t journal every day, just when I felt like I had something to say, and it was basic narrative style. I kept my old journals for years, and then chucked them all because I didn’t want anyone finding them post-suicide.

A couple of years ago, I learned about the bullet journalling phenomenon from fellow bloggers. I read (and reviewed) Ryder Carroll’s The Bullet Journal Method, i.e. the original Bullet Journal®. I’ve seen loads of bullet journalling pins on Pinterest, and quite a few blog posts on the topic.

As time has gone on, I’ve figured out what works for me and what doesn’t, and I’ve come up with a system that’s a pretty well-oiled machine. Part of that has been coming up with my own little mini-code that makes it easy to capture things without having to do much writing.

For each month, I have a one page as an overview of the month, laid out calendar-style. There’s a mood tracker page, also laid out as a calendar. For each day, I do a rating and note done the most prominent emotions for the day. I have an emotions list that’s letter and colour-coded, so I can pack a lot into my mood tracker without taking up a lot of space.

There’s a two-page spread for my monthly tracker, which is colour-coded into the categories of activities, mental health symptoms, physical symptoms, and other factors. The table below shows the basic idea of it. Some things get a check if they happened, other things get up to 4 + signs to indicate intensity, and other things have letter codes. For example, under GI symptoms in the table below, C is cramps and B is bloating. Even more so than the mood tracker, I can cram a ton of information into a small area, and it’s really easy to see what happened when during the month.

Month1234567
Activities
Shower
Walk
Mental health
Poor concentration+++
Insomnia
Physical health
Headache
GI symptomsC B
Other factors
Period

This is especially helpful because my memory is crap. Do I know how many migraines have I’ve had in the last year? Not a clue, but after a 10-second flip through my journal I could tell you, and also tell you if they coincided with my periods.

I also keep a gratitude log for the month, and devote half a page to an overview of each week, which also happens to be what I use to write my weekly wrap-ups here on the blog.

I have separate notebook is devoted to all my health info and history, but I also keep track of things like doctor visits and med changes in my bullet journal. When I started a couple years ago, I had various themed pages that I would add to throughout the year with quotes, interesting things I’d seen in nature, things that made me smile, and assorted other things. I’ve stopped doing that; it wasn’t really intentional, but it just required thinking that wasn’t happening.

The odd time I’ll do narrative entries, but I don’t normally have enough going on in my head to feel any need to spew it out in my journal.

I make notes in my bullet journal every day. Part of my automatic routine when I first get up in the morning is sticking my journal on my bed, so I can’t forget to do it. It takes less than 5 minutes a day.

So there it is, my bullet journalling setup. Do you journal at all? What’s your approach?

Creating a bullet journal for mental health

This how-to guide on Creating a Bullet Journal to Support Mental Health is available free from the MH@H Download Centre. My approach isn’t about artistry; it’s all about functionality.

23 thoughts on “How My Bullet Journalling Style Has Evolved”

  1. I haven’t heard of a Bullet Journal before. Looks interesting, but quite technical.

    I do write a journal. I do enjoy writing in it, but at the moment I am finding it really difficult and keep putting it off. I’m struggling to work out what it is that I am feeling/experiencing so can’t put it into words.

    I try to keep a gratitude journal as well.

  2. I don’t do the bullet journal I once did and very little if I do. But should I do again, because I have that ring binder organiser still, I can add pages to it, or remove. This is why I like my flexible system. It comes with no pressure.
    I may do my mood one again, but I do feel distracted to keeping it up.
    I do have a couple of separate journals though. One is a gratitude journal and the other is a notebook labelled for something else, which I call My Dream Book. This will have several sections in it eventually.

  3. Oh, here we go! We were just talking about this over on my blog!!

    I’ve started a ledger to record how many calories I burn, since I’ve become very physically ambitious this year. I think that’s the only sort of bullet-journaling I do, but I’ve done some other bullet journaling in the past to track depression, mania, paranoia, etc. It’s been helpful to me to see that an issue needs to be addressed (or further addressed) when I’m looking at numbers in black and white, so to speak.

    I love your setup, and it’s inspiring me now to do something similar with showering (which we all know is hard for me), and I could also do one for eating healthier and one for other (non-exercise) productivity. There are a lot of good ideas here! I’m glad you have a system that works so well, too! And I’m sorry to hear you have stomach side effects! That bites. 🙁

    1. The stomach stuff isn’t ongoing; that’s just an example. If I don’t make note of things, I wouldn’t be able to remember anything. LIke when I do my weekend wraps, you always say you can’t remember how your week was. I wouldn’t remember either, but my journal does!

      1. Ohhhh, okay, I see what you mean!! Good points! Huh. That seems like a great reason to do a bullet journal, too! (Bad memory! Mine’s sure shot to heck, that’s for sure.)

  4. Similar to you I have a monthly spread, mood tracker, habit tracker, spending log. I also have a spread that helps track the books I’ve read during the year. I still have to set up a few more I’d like to play with.

  5. I use a Day Timer style journal, but I also keep a separate journal for narrative writing, which I still do quite a bit of, though I now try to channel those narratives more toward blog posts.

      1. Thanks: it seems to be mostly working for me, at the moment. I’ve had more detailed journals before, using PATH from Kevin something’s Inspire book, but that didn’t really help me much, as I tend to be goal-oriented anyway.

  6. I really like your setup! My memory is crap too so I now use an app called “mood log” which let’s me track physical, mental feelings, what meds/coffee/tea etc I took, with a notes section. I still don’t have a comprehensive “all in one tracking page” which I wish I do! But I’m really perfectionist when it comes to bullet journalling!

  7. I love this idea! I’ve started a journal a couple of times but only managed to complete one when it was asking me specific mindfulness questions … this could be a good move for me. I like the idea of tracking moods, activity, emotions etc xx

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