How To Make a Notebook For Your Mental Health
My name is Bryanna Bond.
I am the author that wrote the novel "I Hear Colors",
The poet that crafted the chapbook "The Color Black",
And the face of the No Ordinary Scholar YouTube channel.
One topic that can be found across all my platforms is mental health. I've had depression for most of my life and often talk about the effects it's had on me, tell horror stories, etc. But today, I'm going over the one thing that has always helped me: writing.
It may seem overdramatic or even a little oversimplified for me to say that, but I personally didn't have close social relationships growing up (no family or good friends) so I faked a lot of smiles, but my notebook was the one place for me to be unconditionally, unapologetically me. Scars and all.
Let's Talk About How!!!
My personal writing system includes four separate notebooks.
I keep them separate because I just have so many writing needs that one notebook would last a week tops. It would also stress me out to have all the things so mixed up. But I've seen them used different ways in bullet journals by others. So it really depends on your preferences.
The first notebook that I use is a notebook exclusively for journal collections, an idea that I got from the YouTuber Sunshine and Stationery. Collections are lists of things you want to remember or things you want to get to in the future. For me, this includes a list of books to read, shows to watch, and challenges.
All of which are things that I never realized actually caused me a lot of anxiety trying to remember from day to day.
Journaling is a new habit for me because when I was younger, it just reminded me how lost I was in my situation (at home and school) and it made me feel hopeless.
Years have passed and I've changed so my system's changed with me.
I'm still not super comfortable with journaling daily so I follow a guided journal to help me keep up with that inward thinking when I don't have a ton of stuff to get off my chest.
The writer's notebook fulfills more of the "write it down so it doesn't stress me out trying to keep it in my head" aspect.
I fill it with scraps of poems, ideas, and the plots for my books.
Like I said earlier, any of the things I talked about can be put into a bullet journal (the one pictured above on the left is my Archer & Olive Crystal Vibes A5 dot grid), I just need them to be separate so I don't feel overwhelmed.
My actual bullet journal focuses on work and anything I need to think about daily, and also tends to be written in broken Spanish.
Some common spreads that I've come to appreciate are time blocked weeklies, to help me stay on top of my work through self-employment, and mood trackers.
Mood trackers were something that I was very hesitant to include in my journal because I was worried that potentially seeing a whole lot of bad days on paper would trigger that hopelessness. But when paired with a habit tracker, I can use that information to learn about myself and how my mind and body are connected. For example, I've noticed that when I go a few days without exercising I feel more exhausted and depressed.
While my bullet journal does tend to be very work-oriented, I do keep my active self-care plans in it. At the moment, that looks like a list on my daily log inspired by @planner_daily on Instagram, where I just put down three self-care things that I want to accomplish in the day.
I love that system so much but I still definitely need to give a shout out to my old Self-Care Monopoly Board. I assign different tasks, their own "rolls". When I complete them, I go around a board filled with different self-care activities. I didn't keep up with it after a while but I still think it was the cutest idea.
And that is a basic look at my writing system and how it is made for and helps me.
Now before I go, I just want to share the best lesson the bullet journaling has taught me because it has saved me from several breakdowns.
Everything that we see on "Plan With Me" videos, Instagram photos, Pinterest, and even this blog posts are exclusively suggestions.
There are no rules about how to "correctly" use a bullet journal or any other kind of notebook, yet there can be a pressure to make it super artistic, super productive. overflowing with tractors and collections, etc.
But in reality, if you're most comfortable putting together spreads, and then never using them, then that's exactly what you should do because your notebook should reduce your stress, not add to it.
This is all about having a second skin.
A place for you to safely be all that you are.
If you want to hear more from me, check out my Instagram @Firestorm2343 or check out my YouTube channel.
But until next time,
The last few lines of this just gave me so much hope to start my own!!
“ But in reality, if you’re most comfortable putting together spreads, and then never using them, then that’s exactly what you should do because your notebook should reduce your stress, not add to it.”
Just gave me so much hope that just because I make a spread doesn’t mean I have to actually use it!
I love your ideal about the Self-Care Monopoly Board. I hope you do not mind but I would love to use this in my journal and your name in the middle. That way you will always know someone is thinking of you each time I play
I loved this post. I plan to use my A&O bullet journal to track my days, how I’m feeling, and tasks to do. I’d also like to do a graph of my mental health each day, to see how I’m feeling month to month. I’m going to try not to be a perfectionist with it, and allow mistakes and bad doodles to happen. Thanks again for the insightful post!