Bullet Journal for Mental and Chronic Illness
I’ve been using my bullet journal as a way of managing and being more aware of my mental illness. If I had a chronic physical illness, I’d be doing some similar things to see if there are trends and to overall manage it.
Currently, I’m looking at the mood aspect of my mental illness. In my monthly tracker—which you can see in my October 2016 monthly spreads—I’m looking at the following:
- Overall “quality” of the day, with a legend
- Self-harm or thoughts of self-harm (including suicide idealisation)
- Washing face in the morning and evening
- Brushing teeth in the morning and evening
On the daily pages this month, I’ve been looking at my energy levels throughout the day. I use a bar graph with the time on the X/horizontal axis, and a 0 – 5 scale for the energy on the Y/vertical axis. Here’s the long-form description of those numbers:
- 0 = asleep
- 1 = very low energy; sluggish; desire to lie down or sleep
- 2 = low energy; begrudgingly doing things; not very aware of surroundings; habitual tasks
- 3 = normal energy; doing things; not really leaning toward laziness or excitement
- 4 = good energy; feeling a bit peppy and not feeling tired in the slightest
- 5 = high energy; I’m hyper and excited and playful
I also have a weekly tracker that repeats some of the self-care aspects. I’m very bad at taking care of myself, so having the boxes to fill in give me some motivation outside of “I need to take care of myself.”
Other Ways to Manage Your Illness
Your illness is unique to you. You could be suffering from multiple illnesses and need something more intense. Like the post mentioned later, something could show up and you need to figure out what triggers the pain or fatigue or migraines. Here are a few more suggestions of what to include in your bullet journal for your health. Something here might be relevant to your situation!
- Fill a page with affirmations.
- Fill a page of self-care ideas and activities.
- Write journal entries before and after appointments with doctors, therapists, etc.
- Create a calendar to show your appointments, or when you need to schedule them in the future.
- Log eating habits, such as when and what you eat. You can also track blood sugar levels and your feelings of energy.
- Track medication to make sure you’re taking them all at the right times; or, to see what happens if you miss a dose so you aren’t thrown for a complete loop if you do.
- Track symptoms and their intensity, like headaches, migraines, fatigue, pain (generalised or localised), anxiety, other moods. Like my energy levels, these might be easier to track on an hourly rate, or if you create a table to note the start and end times of certain-intensity symptoms.
- Track activites and their duration, such as commuting and driving, sitting, walking, standing, or more vigorous activities.
- Track quantity and quality of your sleep, as well as when you wake up and fall asleep.
- Track sunrise and sunset times, the hours of daylight, and your energy (for seasonal affective disorder, or to check into your circadian rhythm).
These are just a few ideas for what you can consider in your bullet journal. One of the posts that inspired me was from Ruth at Delightful Planner. She started using the bullet journal after suffering intense back pain. She used the bujo to track the pain, various activities, and medications. Her post is incredibly thorough and was an eye-opening for how I could become more aware of my own health.
Hopefully this helps inspire you!
Your mental health and your physical health are important, and there are so many ways you can manage it. Use this information for your own direction, to help doctors with diagnoses and management plans, or to create more awareness in your mind and body. You’re worth the effort.