I am a huge advocate for bullet journaling for chronic illness and I loosely follow a bullet journaling method, giving myself a lot of leeway. Making it up as I go along, I change what I journal based on information that I think is necessary for both myself and my doctor. Taking breaks from it for awhile is sometimes necessary especially when I get overwhelmed or I am not doing good. Lets explore why that happens and get you started on your own journal so you can leave a legacy for your loved ones.
What Kind Of Journal
When I was introduced to bullet journaling it was suggested that I use a Moleskin journal. I eagerly treated myself to one from Indigo. They use paper that prevents bleeding through the pages. I like to use one with graph lined pages that allow me to box my information and trackers without using a rule. You can use any book you want, even a dollar store scribbler. The choice is yours on price and quality. The big deal is not which book you choose, it is what you choose to put in your journal.
Setting Up Your Bullet Journal
How you set up your journal is personal and should only matter to you. Take your time to figure out what information you think you would like to journal about. You can always add to your journal as you come up with new ideas so the idea here is to just get started.
The first twenty pages are used for creating an index but you don’t have to fill them in now, you can do it as you go along. On page 21 your journal begins. Remember to leave a space on the page for the date and after that you can begin your journal.
Next we number the pages. I only number the even pages to save time and energy.
Trackers & Triggers In My Bullet Journal
Trackers are the information you decide to record. Creating trackers allows you to record information for a specified time, in my case, weekly. Tackers are made of grids like a spreadsheet in Excel.On the left side list what you want to track and then continue to add a section for each day. I rarely use a ruler and often draw the grid freehand as you can see. It isn’t prefect but it made for me and my doctor and i am fine with how I do it.
My Exercise Tracker
- my steps per day,
- the distance I walked and
- how long it took me.
My Weather Tracker
The fact is that weather plays a big part in how I feel so I also track the weather. The information comes for my phone app that is accurate and so that I can begin to see how the weather, especially humidity, triggers my symptoms for better or worse. I also track Air Quality and barometer readings.
My Mood Tracker
I like to keep a mood tracker to remind myself that one bad day does not equal a bad week! The grid is copied from an online app called DAYLIO. Having this information in my journal helps me to compare what differences my triggers made to my day. I also get some great ideas on what I am grateful for because My Gratitude Tracker is another big part of my journal. I suggest you visit your journal twice a day in order to really use it to its full potential.
My Sleep Tracker
Sleep is a huge deal for me, mainly because I don’f feel like I ever get a good sleep, tracking it can make it more real. You may find that you actually get more sleep than you thought you did and you may discover ways of getting your sleep patterns under control. Something as simple as setting you alarm and waking a half hour earlier can make a difference in the sleep you get that evening.
My Gratitude Tracker
Every day I find something that I am grateful for because being grateful is the catalyst for the great changes that happen in my life. Its about being positive and allowing the universe to make the necessary changes that make up my life. Being grateful helps me to turn negative thoughts in to positive ones. Some days seem like it could be a stretch. Most days I thank the universe for something that is not too hard to find. I like to write down the things that I am happy and grateful for so that when i feel downhearted or I am having a bad day, I can go back to my gratitude tracker. I soon realize all that I have to be thankful for.
The Mental, The Physical, The Emotional
There is something cathartic about writing in my journal that takes care of my mental well-being. Symptoms written in chronological order means I don’t have to keep it all in my busy mind. I keep it written down. The physical well-being is the part of putting pen to paper. By actually using my own hands to to track my illness. The emotional or spiritual part is the growth I experience when I track my symptoms. My journal is only for my eyes and I can put anything in there that helps me come to terms with my chronic illness. Reviewing every once in awhile means that I can start to see patterns as they emerge.