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Journaling as a form of Self-Care

Hey everyone! It’s Monday again, which means another new blog post from your favorite poly family! This week it’s my turn to type for a while, and I’ve chosen the topic of journaling as a form of self-care.

The History

I’ve been journaling in some way since I was about 13-years-old.

At first I was just writing every angsty thought that crossed my mind and slapping a date on it. I burnt through 5 or 6 journals that way. Some time around age 16 I picked up a Composition notebook and entered my next phase of journaling. This phase consisted almost entirely of cryptic, vaguely poetic thought vomit, and random objects glued onto the pages scrap-book style. I used nothing but wide-ruled Composition notebooks(they were cheap) through this period. Today there is a pile of 10-15 of them boxed up in a closet silently bearing witness to the darkest period of my life.

I often wonder if I would have made it through that darkness if not for my journaling. Working on those notebooks allowed me to vent all my intense emotions in a contained, healthy manner. 

The Current Phase

My current journaling phase began as an attempt to start bullet journaling. I failed sort of miserably at bullet journaling and it has since evolved well beyond that definition. Now I use elements of a bullet journal, a passion planner, and a good ol’ fashioned regular journal. Though I don’t know what to call it exactly, it has become an integral part of my daily life. My stress management and self-care skills would be severely lacking without it.

I’ve kept the index, the yearly/monthly/weekly spreads, and a bit of the bullet noting system from the bullet journal concept. The minimalist look and feel of a true bullet journal just didn’t quite do it for me, however. I wanted something warmer and a little more eclectic to fit my style and personality. To solve that, I’ve added trackers of different sorts and some artsy elements to liven things up a bit. Those trackers and the spaces I’ve intentionally left for creating art is where the self-care bit really shines through.

Self-Care

Each year/month/week I draw out a new spread, and every spread has a different color scheme/doodle/feel to it. This gives me a chance on a regular basis to tune everything else out and create some type of art for a minimum of about 20 minutes. For me personally, this is incredibly relaxing and rewarding. Allowing myself the time and space to be creative has proven to be a necessity in my mental health, so of course integrating that into my journaling experience was going to be a given.

The trackers I’ve added are for things like mood, weight, and health. For example: I have a seizure disorder that I recently started getting medical attention for, so I track when seizures occur. My mood tracker is laid out over an entire year with a block for each day. At the end of every day, the block for that day gets colored in with a color that matches my code for the mood that prevailed. Green for “good,” yellow for “okay,” orange for “bleh,” and red for “sh*t.”

The trackers are particularly useful for keeping an eye on patterns in your mood/health/finances/etc. This allows you to easily look back on them and reflect. Self-reflection has been a really important thing for me these days as I focus on healing and recovering. I’ve realized that I am particularly inept at listening to my body when it’s trying to tell me something and my trackers have been instrumental in allowing me to pay more attention. Even just the act of filling in the trackers on a regular basis is really helpful because it keeps me more aware of those things throughout the day.

My Setup

The setup I have right now is mostly a mismatched collection of things we already had around the house. Things like a cheap ball-point pen, a set of Cra-Z-Art colored pencils, and sometimes my Staedtler marker pens (though they have a tendency to show/bleed through). I did purchase a Moleskine dot-grid notebook, which is the one I’m using now, because I wanted to try the dot-grid style and I’ve always been a bit partial to Moleskine notebooks. I definitely enjoy and recommend dot-grid notebooks for this type of journaling, but any notebook will do. It all just depends on what it is that you’re trying to accomplish.

Of course if you do any kind of online research for journaling, you’re going to see a very wide variety of things that other people have done. Especially on Pinterest. Everything from clean, simple, minimalistic stuff, all the way to almost entirely art notebooks with watercolors, markers, paints, etc. Don’t get overwhelmed. Start off simple. Then, as you get more comfortable in the routine, you can add more things as you please. If you’re anything like me, you’re going to be tempted to try everything all at once. Resist that urge. Just trust me on this. Allow yourself the time and wiggle room to try new methods slowly, so that you can find exactly what it is that works for you.

And that’s it for now!
Until next Monday, cheers to you and yours and happy journaling!

2 thoughts on “Journaling as a form of Self-Care

  1. Love this! I’ve been playing with planners and enjoying the veg time with stickers and markers and washi tape, but I’m really feeling a pull to abandon much of the “planning” part, which I suck at, and make it more of a journal. I love your tracker ideas!

    1. Thank you! There are countless other tracker ideas on Pinterest if you decide to dip your toes in that ocean. Ha!

      I definitely understand the pull to abandon the planner aspect of bullet journaling. I keep some level of planning in mine, but it doesn’t take center stage.

      -Adam

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