Bullet Journaling & Anxiety

Fun fact: since I use my Bullet Journal every day, I thought I had blogged about it a ton. But I haven't mentioned it in about a year, according to my archives. At least not enough to deserve it's own label.

My first mention of Bullet Journaling was in August of 2017. It's so funny to go back and read that post. So much has changed, and the way I use my BuJo has changed...but that's the point. It's something that can grow and be adapted as needed.

For instance, many of the pages I talked about in this walk-through from February 2018 are ones I don't use anymore. But there is a line from the Boho Berry Challenge I completed in October 2018 about why I plan that is still 100% applicable to my current BuJo habit:

It was nice to be using my hands, nice to be being productive, nice to feel useful and back in charge of my life. It helped. Life was being kept on track.

I read a quote somewhere recently that said "What you are not changing, you are choosing."

That really sums up a big part of my BuJo journey. I started it because I was suffering from Mommy Brain & (undiagnosed) post-partum anxiety and I knew I couldn't continue; things had to change or my life would, quite literally, fall apart.

I needed to identify what wasn't working and try something, anything, different.

So I grabbed a notebook and started making some lists and plans and goals.

For some people, this sounds terrible. But I am the kind of person who needs to think of things from all angles, to have a clear and direct plan, to write out my problems. Yes, it takes time and energy. But it's time and energy that I'm not spending having anxiety attacks, time and energy that benefits my mental health and family life rather than taking from it.

This is a trend I've seen repeat itself over and over in the bullet journal community. Many of us are struggling with something- anxiety, depression, OCD, cancer. And this is a way to cope.

Some people dislike the idea of having to create their own spreads, but as mentioned above...it's good to give my hands something to do. It's good to focus on something. It actually quiets my mind. I guess this is comparable to puzzles or running or any other hobby. No, you don't have too...but there are benefits of doing it.

Bullet journaling has also helped me let go of some perfectionist tendencies. This is something I struggle with, have always struggled with. But again, seeing it on paper...seeing what I can do versus everyone else, feeling the difference in what feels good to do versus what feels like I have to do...this has helped me so much. And it's bled over into other areas of my life.

Apparently seeing it and feeling it on a small scale lets my brain make connections and go "Hmm, maybe this is the case in other situations too."

Also, part of the system is migrating tasks. Basically, if you don't do something then you move it to the next day/week/etc. The system is all about getting stuff done. At first I didn't really like this, I thought it was dumb. Obviously if you don't cross something off your day's to-do list...then you just failed.

But that's a really negative way and it's not good for my mental health. Like, that might sound silly and dramatic, but it's not. It's a small thing but it's indicative of an overall negative state that is really bad for me.

Anyway. I would migrate something, and once I migrated something for about a week. And I finally just had to admit- I was never going to do this thing. Again, this has bled over into other areas of my life. I've literally seen, on paper, my personality. And I've had to just either change or accept it.

All this stuff could also be attributed to age, and medication, and those play a role; but this is essentially a part of cognitive behavior therapy for me. Self-prescribed, figuring out on my own, but...the results speak for themselves.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. Its goal is to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people's difficulties, and so change the way they feel.

I'm not sure this is really coming across as clearly as I wanted it to, but I wanted to talk about it because I hear so many people talk about feeling stressed and having so much to do and this being the reason they can't plan or keep up with things. 

And...anxiety and depression lie. It takes the same amount of time and energy for me to try and remember all the crap I need to do than it does for me to write it down and just do it. But one has a negative affect on my mental viewpoint and one has a positive effect on my mental health.

This may not be your thing, the way it is mine. But I hope and encourage you to try something. You don't have to drown in stress and frustration. And if you grab one life raft and it starts deflating, grab a door a la Titanic style. But give yourself a chance. Try something.


  1. I loved having my written planner, I didn't love still having to maintain the electronic calendar so Husband wasn't asking me a millionty time a week when something would occur.

    PITA Professor is who really cemented the lesson "do what feels good vs what is expected". That might seem backwards, but he has a very subjective method of grading and to get an A+ is impossible... and once I accepted that impossibility and did what I could without stressing myself out, I excelled in more ways than just in an individual class. Doing MY best vs what was expected/fulfilling unrealistic expectations then seeped into other things. It's been fantastic.

    I'm glad someone likes making spreads, more inspiration for the rest of us!

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