Five Ways To Journal When You Are Low On Energy Or Time
When energy is low, or your mental health is suffering it can be difficult to want to pull supplies out and really stick with your normal creative routines. Do you have prompts and starters ready to support you with quick and easy ideas? A&O new ambassador May Flaum here - and I’m so excited to share with you some tips, tricks, and ideas I use to keep my journal moving even when I am struggling myself. It could be mental health, stress, creative block, or even a long illness that has knocked me off my game. What can we do? Personally I keep it simple, remove all expectations and rules I may usually follow, and make it as fun as possible.
You will want an Archer & Olive notebook in your choice of size and format to begin as well as a pen. A set of A&O acrylograph pens would be an excellent choice - but any pens will do. Have some stickers or washi tape? Sometimes a bit of premade decorative fun can help me feel good and be happy with my results.
The really fun thing here? There is no set supply list outside of your journal. If you have inks and stamps you are welcome to use them. Got markers, pencils, or other color mediums you want to get used? Bring them out! Whatever you like - it will work.
Here are some notes on the styles of pages shown in my video tutorial.
Idea #1: The Magic Page
I call this idea a magic page, as it often will give me an “aha” moment, clarify a thought, or otherwise unblock me. To create one of these pages begin with a word that is in your mind. Magic, Love, Create, Joy are all favorites- or work through some darker feelings with something like worries, fury, or unhappy. There is no right or wrong word - any word at all will work! Once that word is written down, move the journal page all around and write out little thoughts, doodles, and notes in any direction. Again, there is no wrong answer here. I like to change directions so that I both let go of some aesthetic control as well as to keep it (literally!) moving and letting the words flow more freely.
Idea #2: Prompts to my future self
I’m sure we’ve all been there - what do I write about? Many journal layouts offer specific prompts, in this case I’m making a whole page of it. Some favorite examples I have are:
- One thing I’m grateful for today
- Something I’m liking about myself
- I did — well today
- I want to visit — and do —-
- Three things I will do today
- Today I complimented (or said something nice) to ___ about ___
- A healthy thing I did today was ___
- I really want to try ___
- I sent a happy text/DM and connected with ____ today. (people I’ve not spoken to recently)
- A checklist (such as took a walk, meditation, did my stretches, ate my veggies…) to mark off each day
The idea here is two part. First to give myself a prompt so easy I can just add a sentence. I tend to do these in about one week increments so that I have one page open, and then each day for a week I just write in the one thing. Simple, fast, but it keeps me showing up in my journal. The second is that I focus on health, happiness, and mental focus to help me keep rising up and being in a better position with my mental health. Nothing huge or big gestures - just small details and things that I know will serve me well.
Idea #3: The ugly page
This one may seem insane - but trust me it works wonders! I will intentionally make a page very ugly, visually appealing, or terribly chaotic. I do this to loosen up, not take myself too seriously, but also at times the creative process behind finding what is terribly ugly (and/or terrible) can actually boost or even unblock yourself when you are aiming for lovely or pleasing things! This could be anything from drawing an ugly image, clashing colors, scribbling - or otherwise “ruining” a page on purpose. I’ve had a lot of success with this as a first page done in the middle of a journal when I am struggling to start.
Idea #4: Just three things
Similar to idea two - this is a bit more strategic. When I am very low energy or in a bad place my personal rule is that I have to just get through three things in a day. These things may be work related, self care, or for my family but I will be “free” to just go lay down or otherwise quit for the day as soon as I accomplish them.
Some examples would be things like doing yoga, mailing a bill, folding laundry, or fixing a problem. The items do not have to be big - and often I will go beyond the 3 items on my list! The goal here is to use my journal for accountability and help myself get back to doing, get things on track.
Idea #5: Notes to my future self
This can come in a lot of forms - from using quotes to encouraging myself in very specific ways. You can also make this a list or do a whole page with just one idea. The point here is to create content that you will look back on and use to motivate, inspire, and keep you going towards your goals and best life. You could include creative ideas, recipes you want to try, a big goal you are working towards, and so much more. The format could be more art journal, heavy on writing, or even cut and glued articles, quotes, artwork, and more! I have done this with creative ideas and projects I want to make, photos that inspire me, and quotes I want to remember that make me feel empowered, motivated, or any other good feelings.
Add doodles, ink up blank pages in preparation of future writing, close your eyes and draw, or just cut loose with your thoughts. There are no wrong answers here - just consistency and showing up for a few simple moments to keep your habit alive, your mind well, and yourself on track with your goals and mental health.
If you need permission to simplify, let go of expectations, or just get crazy with wild ideas once in a while I am always here to support you! Please feel free to reach out to me @craftwithmay on social media like Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok! I love chatting and am always happy to root for you and cheer you on as well as help you troubleshoot. If you try any ideas from this article and post to social media I encourage you to tag @archerandolive, @archerandolive.community and use hashtags #AOShare and #archerandolive so that the community can see your work as well.