Mental Health & Illness

Bullet Journalling Part III: Reflection

Keeping a mental health bujo: reflection

This is the last part in a little mini-series about journalling (the previous posts were on the basics and habit & symptom tracking). This post will look at journalling as a tool for reflection.

I know some bloggers use their blog much like a journal. That was never really the direction I wanted to go with my blog, but also, I find it more useful to blog about things after the fact rather than during. In general, I’ve always tended to like having a chance to chew over things in my head before releasing them out into the open.

I’ve always been a pretty introspective person, and reflection is a process that’s important to me. I usually feel pretty comfortable inside my head, and I like to understand what’s going on in there. Some things are best left tucked away in boxes, but I still like to know the lay of the land. I think I’d feel very disoriented in the outside world if I didn’t feel pretty well-anchored inside my own head. That sense of anchoring can be harder the worse my depression is, and that loss of anchor is one of my least favourite parts of the really low mood times.

I used to journal fairly regularly to help me work through whatever was happening in my life. These days, my life is pretty slow, which is how I want it. That means that on a day to day basis, there isn’t a lot to work through. In that case, the combination of what I can do in my head plus bullet journalling plus blogging is enough.

When more is going on, I’m more likely to return to reflection-oriented journalling. I do it in my bullet journal, and I tend to organize that part by topic rather than by date. For me, reflective journalling involves a different thought process than when I’m doing reflective posts on the blog. If I’m blogging about something, it’s because I’ve already got coherent thoughts in my head. They might go in a different direction than expected once I start writing, but there’s a solid starting point.

When I journal, I tend to start from a place of confusion and then see what develops as I write. Sometimes I stay confused, while other times, as I write, it’s like a lightbulb goes on and I realize how I want to approach whatever the issue is. Those times when I stay confused, I’ll usually keep coming back to the topic and building on the confused ideas to try to find some clarity.

There are usually fewer pauses when I’m journalling than when I’m blogging. Depression slows down my brain, and when I’m writing a blog post, I usually take a lot of pauses to try to pull my thoughts together. When I’m journalling, I’m usually starting with more thoughts in my head that are in need of an outlet. As a result, there’s a little more flow.

I can’t think of anything else to add, so now it’s over to you. In what ways do you reflect on what’s going on in your inner world? And is that a positive process for you, or an uncomfortable one?

21 thoughts on “Bullet Journalling Part III: Reflection”

  1. I live inside my head, always have. Sometimes it is a fantasy world, sometimes it is planning on what to do if a particular thing might happen (hoo-boy do I plan ahead) and sometimes it is having ‘conversations’ with people to work though what I’m feeling or what I really want to say to them but never would in real life. Sometimes I write ‘mental’ blog posts and then because I’ve expressed the thoughts, so to speak, I have no further need to write them down. What I needed to say gets said inside my head (oh geeze that rhymes), it’s dealt with and done. Is it a positive process? Absolutely – hashing and re-hashing – just within and for myself – pretty much like talk therapy except that I provide both sides of the conversation. (Ok, so yeah, sometimes I have conversations with myself out loud…and do the whole talk to the mirror thing – it keeps me sane.)

  2. I’ve tracked symptoms before but found it depressing. A checklist would probably be handled with less emotional effect vs writing out each symptom as it occurs. Going to try this. I work things out in my blog, which, hopefully, helps someone else know they’re not alone & help loved ones understand more about what it’s like to live with fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, and being debilitated by chronic illness and pain.

  3. I like to think I’m allowing myself to be vulnerable by using my blog as a journal though I do find using a physical notebook a lot less mentally taxing 🙂

  4. I do regular journaling which is where I keep all of the really dark thoughts. And I blog, but it isn’t used as a journal per say, it’s more of the fly by the seat of my pants type writing. I don’t really know much about bullet journaling though so I always find your posts on it interesting.

  5. I’m similar to you. I write blog posts when I’ve got more developed thoughts on something and journal privately during confusion to see what emerges.

  6. I hadn’t intended or wanted my blog to be a place for journaling, but I find it turning into that. I have so many unpublished drafts of journal style posts in addition to the whiny-complaining-update-journal-style posts that actually get published.

  7. Thanks so much for the post – great reading as always.

    For years I kept a dream diary but this was years ago before I married and had a child. My dreams were always quite vivid. The journal was very helpful. After the birth of my daughter I went on clozapine and virtually stopped dreaming so no longer keep that dream log.

    Since March of 2021, I have been keeping a diary that lists the work I have done in walking and/or yoga on a regular basis. Right now the work is almost always walking. I note notable moments of the day in that journal like a diary of my physical activity and notes of other things like had a stressful day and what that stress was of if I had a session with my therapist.

    I include self care in this diary most of the time. Basically the journal allows me to look back over the last several months and see when I am active with my walking and see when I am active in my self-care. When the walking lapses in general so does the self-care.

  8. I relate to a lot of the ideas you shared in this post. Journaling is one of my favorite ways to explore and analyze the thoughts I have. As well as a safe space for me to reflect on life happenings. Great series Ashley – thanks for sharing the different ways you journal! 🙂

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