While attending my Respiratory Rehabilitation program one of the education portions included Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). During these classes I started to journal. It started with symptoms and mental health tracking, how I felt about what was happening to me along with the severity of my symptoms.
Recording this Health and Self Awareness helped me to understand my symptoms. I could see with my own eyes what changes I was going though every day. When I came to the realization that with this information I could regurgitate my symptoms easily and I began to better understand this chronic illness of mine and how my body was going to react to it.
I was already a list maker so I got the general idea of writing a daily list, only now I was listing the things that had happened instead of the things that I wanted to happen. It began by following the outline that was given to me. then I progressed to a small dollar store note-book and have finally advanced to a real Moleskine journal.
It’s a new paradigm of health care and we need to control our illness and mitigate our symptoms because we all know how fast our health can go downhill. Before we know it… we are at a critical point. With a chronic illness the first thing you are asked by your doctor is what happened and how did it happen. I always have a hard time with recalling how the events took place and in what order. We call these recordings trackers.
My tracker is actually based on something called Bullet Journaling, and let me explain why this is the best method for me to use.
A bullet journal starts with a blank page. Yep, you actually start with a page that has nothing on it but a lines or dots. It is not a store-bought one with blanks to fill in but a journal where you can add lines and rows and any categories
you want to track.
This is your journal to create how you want it created. Bullet Journaling is a journal that is custom-made by you and for you. Start by adding lines and rows to record your specific data. You decide what you want to record and how often you want to record it.
What do I track?
The daily steps are tracked as well as distance, calories and time spent on exercise. I do this with the help of my FIT BIT tracker on a daily basis. I also track my sleeping patterns because rest is as important as exercise.
My doctor asked me to also track my symptoms based on weather. So I include air quality, weather, humidity, barometer and dander in my daily trackers and I track both morning and evening changes. I also track my overall BORG on a daily basis.
Why track your Borg?
A study by the Journal of Emergency Nursing shows that a Modified Borg Scale (MBS) shows accurately in a measurement for dyspnea or shortness of breath.
Usefulness of the modified 0-10 Borg scale in assessing the degree of dyspnea in patients with COPD and asthma*
Look in Bits and Pieces above for a downloadable Borg Scale Chart.
What do I do with the Information?
At the end of the month I sum it all up and include a conclusion of what my monthly goals were and if I met my goals and if I did not then why not. I add up all my successes and reward myself for my accomplishments.
Tracking your day gives you power because only you can know your illness with such intimacy and it gives you a voice to enlighten yourself and know YOU. When pay close attention to what my lungs and body are telling me, how the weather affects me. That is how I find I can manage the ups and downs easier because I have it tracked! I can predict that the weather will make me feel better or worse. I am ready for it to happen. No reason for fear, I know what will happen.
At The End of The Day
Your journal is personal and private and only meant for you to see. Let’s not worry about grammar or spelling. Just write what you feel, use it as a tool to track your days and your goals but also to vent about your days.
Tell journal about the good stuff that happened and tell journal about the bad things that happened. How could have handled it better or worse. Always write with gratitude and give yourself a kudos for the good. Look for ways to change the scary and frightening parts.
Make time to create a bedtime routine. Make it a routine of to turn off all electronics at least an hour before bed.
Meditate, then journal your day. Have a sleepy chamomile tea. Take out a book to read or some other activity that has a calming effect on you.
Journaling should only take about 20 minutes a day once the set-up is complete. I colour in mine and try my hand at drawing. I am terrible at it but it is my journal and so no judgement.