Anxiety, Bullet Journal, Self Care

Managing Anxiety Through Bullet Journaling

Anxiety is the most common mental health issue in North America Today. With over 18% of adults alone experiencing anxiety on a regular basis it is no wonder that no matter where you go online you can easily find ways to “cope”, “manage” or “ignore” your anxiety. However, I have found that one of the best ways to live a more peaceful life is to first acknowledge and accept it for what it is and not try to control what I do and do not think. One of the ways that I do this through daily Bullet Journaling. If you don’t know what this is, Buzzfeed has a fantastic article that breaks it down that you can read here. There are a ton of ways that your bullet journal can be used to not only track, but help live with anxiety in a healthy way so let’s break it down into what this actually looks like

Instead of creating a monthly habit it tracker, create a mental health tracker! 

Here is an example of how this might look, from my own personal bullet journal (Don’t mind the empty squares, this is from my upcoming March Spread!).

The idea of this specific “spread” is to be able to see patterns in your thinking and behavior. This is especially helpful if you are currently working with a provider to find the best anti-anxiety medication. I had such a rough experience with my own process that I sometimes found it difficult to remember back and think exactly how I felt and what, if any, connection the different medications played a role. The process was so much easier when I was able to look back and say confidently “About 5 days after beginning X Medication, I began having uncontrollable panic attacks for no reason”. While it sometimes made me feel like I was in some sort of weird experiment with the data I was providing, all of the providers involved in my care were incredibly appreciative and were able to get me on the right medication based off of my feedback. Another aspect that played a huge roll in my love of this spread, was when I had those good days, I was so proud of myself because of what a huge accomplishment it was for me to see that not only did I experience a day of contentment and none of my regular stressed or anxious symptoms, but also had a day filled with Joy. For a complete list of ideas of what items to put in your mental health tracker, please click here.

Utilizing the Eisenhower Matrix to help prioritize tasks

If you are anything like me, you might feel the need to complete everything that you have on your plate as soon as you can. There is this frenzied sense of needing to get everything done, and this frenzied state only helps anxiety kick in which it makes it so much easier to go down what I call “The Rabbit Hole”. This spread is incredibly helpful to remind you to slow down and really think about how critical it is to get all these things done and hopefully bring you a little bit more peace. As you can see below, this spread is essentially split up into 4 sections: Do, Decide, Delegate, and Delete. Remember though, try not beat yourself up too much if these tasks do not get done in the time frame that you are wanting.

Now, there are couple of ways you can complete this spread. You can add it to your weeklies or monthlies, you can write in each task until the box is full and create a new spread, you can keep it on your phone (but that kind of defeats the purpose of bullet journaling!). However, for my own sanity I prefer the sticky note version. In my version of this spread, each box is large enough to contain 6 sticky notes and there is something incredibly satisfying about taking one of my tasks out and tossing it in the recycling. If you would like more information on this spread, or need some help figuring out how to utilize this in your daily life, be sure to let me know here, and I will do my best to help!

Write it Out!

You know how sometimes people tell you that you just need to  “cry it out” and you will feel better? The same can be said for writing it out. Take 10-15 minutes and get it all out, whatever it is that you are upset/angry/or freaked out about. One of the most important things you can do for your own sanity is to HONOR what you are feeling and thinking, while still sometimes acknowledging that these thoughts are irrational or unhelpful. The important thing to note here though is that once you get all those feeling’s out on paper, try not to ruminate over it. One of my favorite saying’s lately is “It is OK to cry over the lemons you were given, but don’t forget to make them into lemonade”.

Creative Expression

Another way to help live daily with anxiety is to spend some time with your creative self. I know, I know, who has that much time in there day to spend doodling and drawing or whatever. I promise that taking just 5 minutes out of your day to draw a little doodle, something that you can completely focus on, will help bring you down from a 8 to at least a 5 or 6. Even if you don’t believe yourself to be artistic or creative I challenge you to do something for at least 5 minutes, you might be surprised of what you discover. Of course on those days where you are at a 10, this will probably not be the best option to bring your anxiety down and you might need to try something else. For a daily doodle challenge prompt, please click here!

And remember, if you are in crisis and need to talk please call the National Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 where someone will be available 24/7 to assist you.