My bullet journal for 2018

Earlier this week I put a post on Instagram about how I had started a bullet journal for next year and whether people would find it useful for me to write a post about how I had put it together, how it helps with mindfulness and my mental health.

So, here you go! Last year I saw many a YouTube video on setting up a bullet journal and thought it was a fab idea. I loved the idea of a mood tracker, sleep tracker, keeping up with social media followers and many other tables and graphs that I could colour in. The reality was I made the whole thing far too complicated and when I fell behind with the various trackers I had created it made me feel stressed, anxious and like a failure.

This is if course an overreaction but when you are someone suffering with anxiety and depression you really don’t need anymore pressures that could potentially make you feel even more shitty about yourself so I gave up. But as the year has gone on I’ve thought more and more about how much I like to doodle and how a much more simplified version would actually be a very good thing.

I bought a cheap as chips notepad from Home Bargains which had lined pages and dots along the top and bottom for ease of lines.

I have a pot of pens and pencils that I dig out for doodling when I can so felt that I could use those so didn’t need to buy anymore stationary than that. I mostly used Berol felt tips, some thin nibbed black gel pens, pencils and a ruler. I decided to incorporate my favourite parts of the bullet journal I had done last year without all the stress so started with a simple drawing on the front page. This could be anything but I chose to make it displaying the year and my name.

For anyone who knows me or follows my Instagram you will know I love stars so these seemed to be perfect for the front page. I wanted inspirational quotes to play a huge part in this years journal as they do in everyday life but decided that the front page was good as it was. I then went on to a simple Index, I left four pages for this so I can have room to Index the whole book. This is really important for how I’m doing the journal as it will make finding what I’m looking for so much easier throughout the year.

I love lettering so really enjoy this but was amazed by how many lettering tutorials there are on Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram so even if you are someone who isn’t too keen on lettering you can find a font that looks good and that you can master simply. I then added pages for goals and aims, blog ideas and hopes and dreams for the year. I can fill these in as I go and reflect back on them at the end of 2018. As you can see I’ve not quite finished the colouring in but it gives you an idea and is really simple. I’m not tracking anything, giving myself dates to get stuff done by but simply jotting down things as they come into my head.

In the templates I have seen many others use the pages after this for all the various trackers, favourite quotes, meal plans and all manner of other bits and pieces but again I found this hard as I wasn’t sure how many pages to leave before I started my actual diary and if I wanted to add others in it would look odd after so I’ve kept it simple again and just gone straight into the year.

For every new month I’ve used a double page spread for the month with a drawing and a notes section but this could be adapted in anyway which suits you best. That’s the thing, it needs to suit you and help you not confuse you and leave you feeling daft for not doing it in the way everyone else is. Again these aren’t all finished but these give you an idea and I have to say it’s so relaxing doing that monthly page that I am really looking forward to doing all the others.

Again the beauty of this is that you can do it however you want so January is a bit different but as I went on I found what works for me best and what I enjoyed most drawing. Then I went really controversial and used a double page spread for the month so a line for each day of the month, it’s much quicker to do, will still give me the space I need but didn’t need so much effort put into it that I ended up giving up after the 76,000th shout of ‘Mummy!’ From the boys. I managed to get the whole year marked up in less that a day and with opportunities to add on as I wanted which felt like a real achievement.

At the end of every month I put a gratitude page and a reflections page for the month and there is plenty of space to add favourite quotes, doodles and stick things in should I want to.

Then after the year I started to add on the additional pages I wanted to, no trackers as I have neither the time or the pressure of them but a page for meal ideas, a page for house ideas and I’m sure there will be others to come as the year goes on. Here I can doodle my favourite quotes and stick in pictures. All of these can be found easily by the Index and I have loads of room to add on as many pages as I want up to the end of the notebook because I’ve kept the journal so simple.

There are so many different ways for doing these bullet journals and none are right or wrong. I’ve kept it simple, functional and easy to maintain so I can make the most of the mindfulness and organisation while not pressuring myself to keep up with trackers and charts. I can write down as little or as much as I want or I can simply use it as a diary to keep up with all the things going on in my life.

I hear you say that I could just go and buy a diary but as I said the thought that I have created something totally bespoke to me and suitable for my needs is a great feeling. It also gives me somewhere to be creative and something to share with others (I’ve already had some questions about where I got the idea from) now I don’t have masses of free time and run around like a mad woman (oh the irony) most of the time but one of my biggest moans of the last year was feeling unorganised. This will assist and can always be with me only being in a small notepad.

There are lots of journals and planners already made up for this purpose and some that are fantastically aimed at those with MH issues to all degrees however because I love to draw this option suited me better. So many people have acknowledged that next year they want to live life more simply and this is one of those ways for me, doing something I want to do but in my own way in a simple manner.

I would love to hear what you think, to see if you’ve been inspired to do anything similar and how you are going into 2018. Feel free to get in touch!

Thank you for reading this year, for being there, for taking on board me and all the crap I go on about and for supporting Tired From Whitstable, both here, in the newspaper and across my social media. I am blown away and can honestly say you make a crazy woman very happy!

Happy new year you lovely people xx

A year of talking about mental health

So I’m sat in Costa, I’ve dropped the boys off for their last day at school this year and I have hot chocolate, all great things I hear you say. Yet I feel glum. I can’t get my head around it and it occurs to me that it’s possibly total brain overload processing that another year has nearly gone by and all the changes it has bought.

It has been a colossal year which has been so full of change for me that at times it has left me in a head spin. This year I decided when at the lowest I’ve ever been to stick two fingers up to depression and anxiety and to finally fight the battle I’ve been successfully avoiding all my life.

This doesn’t mean as you all know from my many posts before now that I’m ‘cured’ but that I choose now to face my demons and take them for what they are as opposed to hiding from them and letting them control me. I’m not alone, millions of people everyday are fighting battles that you know nothing about and this year has made me see this more than ever.

We see what people want us to see, we hear only some of what they have to say because that’s how we as human beings are. To tell a casual acquaintance you are on your knees and struggling to get out of bed because you feel useless and a burden on the world is simply not the done thing. Our stiff upper lip and attitudes towards mental health have stopped us being open for decades now.

The thing is though that since I have been writing about my depression and anxiety people who don’t know me, people who know me but not very well and even those closest to me have said how nice it is to get an insight into the thoughts and feelings of someone who suffers the way I do. This I imagine is largely because so many deal with friends or family who are struggling themselves and have no idea how to help them or how they are feeling.

I’m not saying that we should be telling all and sundry every thought or emotion we have but I do think a world where it is okay to say you are not okay is much better than one that tells us to keep it to ourselves and that we should all carry on regardless.

This time of year is full of joy and happiness yet for many it is tinged with sadness. Memories of those we have lost, regrets that some things haven’t ended up the way we thought they would and for some total loneliness. I’ve put myself under so much pressure this year to get it all done, to keep up with all the school letters and social events and to have a tidy home and yet I still have more than half the presents to wrap, school letters I’ve forgotten to send back and a shit tip of a house. But what I do have is worth it’s weight in gold, a family who love me, two beautiful boys who although drive me to tears at times also make me prouder with every passing day and a life full of possibility.

I feel very fortunate to have provided the tiniest voice in a world full of people now talking about mental health. I’ve always said if just one person reads what I write and takes something from it then I’m happy and if you take anything from this post let it be this. I am the woman who earlier this year had a crisis and decided to fight it, the woman who wouldn’t sit in a cafe on her own for fear of people looking at me, the woman who still wakes up everyday knowing I have the ability to be down but using the resources I have gained, the wisdom I have fought for I realise that a bad day won’t make a bad life and actually as far as lives go I really don’t have much to grumble about.

If you feel like you are ready to talk to someone particularly over this time of year please do, the Samaritans offer a 24/7 phone line on 116 123, your GP can help, someone you trust will listen and can help to keep you safe. You have the power to take on anything. You are amazing and you are worthy.

Happy Christmas xxx