I have struggled with depression and anxiety for eight years now. When I was younger, my therapist told me how writing down our feelings helps us to identify, organise and control our thoughts as well as bringing about clarity by helping us to solve problems.
At the time, this seemed boring and just like a chore to me. Then I discovered a bullet journal and how many people were using it for mental health reasons, so I began researching like mad and eventually bought one myself.
So what is a bullet journal? Ryder Carroll, the creator, believes “it can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.”
To me the bullet journal is a creative and fun way to track my mental health journey. Now every day I look forward to my journal time, where I write about anything and everything else. It has enabled me to identify certain anxiety triggers, track my moods and I feel better after writing my negative thoughts and emotions on paper. I can see a significant difference in my mental health since starting my bullet journal, it’s a great complement to therapy.
Here’s why I think it’s been so helpful:
1. It helps us to organise and control our thoughts and feelings better by establishing order in what could seem like a complete mess. We often get times where we have a million and one things running through our head and we’re not sure what to do, so writing these thoughts and feelings down allows us to take a step back. Things feel more manageable when written down, which allows us to go from a state of feeling overwhelmed to one where we are back in control.
2. It acts as an outlet for us to just let it all out. Bottling things up are not good in any situation and we sometimes feel we cannot talk to people about our problems. Therefore, writing lets our thoughts just flow out of our heads and onto paper. I often find myself writing without even thinking about what I’m going to say.
3. It helps us to de-stress and unwind by calming us down. Sort of like going for a run can let off steam, writing can also have this effect. We then have space in our head for other thoughts, hopefully more positive ones.
4. It helps us to identify patterns and triggers, which in turn can have positive effects on our mental health. For example, by discovering what triggers your anxiety, you are then able to control this emotion better. You may also identify patterns like the amount of sleep you get each night significantly affects your mood, therefore you are able to make sure you are getting enough sleep each night.
5. It helps us to see that thoughts change. Often with depression we are in a state where we believe nothing will ever change or get better and that life will just always be like this. However, if we write down our thoughts daily then we can look back on them to see that actually, thoughts and feelings do change. Then the next time we are feeling low, we don’t beat ourselves up by thinking nothing will change because it does change – it gets better.