Have you noticed how easy it is to get stressed these days? Most of us juggle busy schedules, multiple roles and responsibilities, and long to-do lists. Our brains are overloaded with information and it’s all too easy to get distracted. And even though social media claims to make life easier, for many people it just adds to the feeling of overwhelm and the sense that there’s always more to do.
Now more than ever, it’s important to invest in self-care – so you can take care of yourself emotionally, mentally, physically – even spiritually. This is something most of us want to do, but it can be a struggle to find the time or energy – especially when there are so many other things demanding your attention. Which leads to the question – how do we actually incorporate self-care into our daily routine? And more to the point, how can we incorporate self-care in the bullet journal?
Here are some practical tips (and a cheat sheet!) to help you practice self-care and make more time for yourself with the help of your bullet journal.
WHAT IS SELF-CARE?
First up, let’s explore what self-care actually is!
Self-care is the intentional approach of, you guessed it, taking care of yourself. It’s defined in Wikipedia as “any necessary human regulatory function which is under individual control, deliberate and self-initiated.” In this way, self-care can be seen as a practice that prioritizes your needs to ensure you have the physical, emotional and mental energy to live your life to the full.
Self-care is a holistic practice that includes three major pieces that all directly connect to your overall health and wellness: mind, body, and soul. There are many benefits to good self-care, such as improving your overall happiness and success, reducing stress, and even preventing illness and disease. After all, when you feel at your best, it’s so much easier to do your best.
So if it’s so beneficial, why do so many of us struggle to give self-care the time and attention it really deserves?
WHAT IS SELF-CARE NOT?
Some people think that taking care of yourself first is a selfish thing. If you’re a people pleaser, a mom, or someone who takes care of others for a living, you might feel guilty about caring for your own needs or doing things that bring you joy. You might tell yourself that you should put others first or that the needs of those you care about are more important.
But in the long-term, this approach makes everyone less well off.
That’s because when you don’t take care of yourself emotionally, physically, and mentally, you don’t have as much to give to others. Your energy gets depleted and you feel more tired. You may even start to resent the people you’ve been putting first because you feel so drained.
In comparison, when you make time for things you enjoy doing and that lift your spirits, your overall mood and energy will also improve. Self-care is about rejuvenation and refueling. When your needs are acknowledged, respected, and fulfilled, you’re able to give more to others.
In short, self-care helps you have more love and patience to give to others in your life!
Self-care also isn’t a once and done type of thing—it’s something that you should be doing continually and working into your daily routine. This makes it a great reason to include self-care in the bullet journal!
Here are some top tips to help you incorporate a self-care practice/routine into your BuJo
1. CREATE A SELF-CARE CHEAT SHEET
What do you love to do? What makes you feel cared for and nurtured? What invigorates and revitalizes you so you feel better able to take on the world? What self-care practice help you be more productive?
A good self-care practice starts by knowing what it is you need to feel cared for. That’s why a great starting point is your self-care cheat sheet. As well as helping you plan things you love into your life, this tool is a game-changer when you’re not feeling motivated. When you feel low it’s hard to know what to do to get yourself out of that head space. I created a cheat sheet for myself (similar to my Miracle Morning cheat sheet) to make it easy to include self-care into my normal routine.
I love this one from @rainbowbulletjournal over on Instagram:
Having your favorite self-care items all on one page is not only a great reminder to incorporate these things into your daily routine, but it can also be a helpful motivator when you’re feeling stuck.
ACTION STEP: Take 10-20 minutes right now to brainstorm your favorite self-care activities. Don’t stop until you have at least 50 items on your list! (You can even use mine if you get stuck, but I encourage you to think about the things that bring you life.)
You can break this down even further. For example, what items on your list do you want to do:
- Daily – e.g. a daily walk or meditation
- Weekly – e.g. a yoga class, baking, a coffee date with friends
- Monthly – e.g. a massage or a night out
You can even add in one-off extra special treats such as a weekend spa break or a city break.
You’ll be surprised at the impact this list will make on your life. When you know what you want [and what you need], it’s so much easier to make it happen.
2. PLAN YOUR SELF-CARE IN THE BULLET JOURNAL
Intentions are one thing, but are you sticking to your commitments? Your BuJo is the perfect place to do this. Remember, it’s all too easy to let self-care slip, but schedule in the time [in the same way you would a meeting or an appointment], and it’s less likely to get missed.
In this way, your BuJo can help you prioritize your self-care needs so these activities get the quality time they deserve, not the leftovers. Here are some tips to help:
- Use your daily pages to schedule in your everyday practices.
- Add self-care activities to your weekly to-dos
- Use your monthly pages to plan ahead
ACTION STEP: Review your planning pages in your BuJo and revisit how you can set them up to make self-care a higher priority.
3. TRACK YOUR SELF-CARE
Self-care is about how you feel as much as what you do. Again, your BuJo is a great place to monitor your emotional well-being because you can create a self-care tracker. This is a great tool to keep track of your physical health habits, mood, or daily self-care activities.
Many even use a bullet journal for mental health.
Tracking your daily and weekly habits is an essential part of working toward long-term goals. Remember that change happens one day at a time. You’ll have good days and bad days, so don’t get discouraged about days that aren’t “perfect”. You’ll also be able to see trends and patterns giving you the information and insights you need to empower your next steps.
Thanks to the blank page, there are countless ways you can track your self-care in your BuJo. For example, here’s a gorgeous mood tracker from @rainbowbulletjournal over on Instagram:
This example tracks mood, sleep, and steps – but you can track anything that matters to you.
ACTION STEP: What aspects of your self-care do you want to track? Make a list, figure out the metrics, and get inspired to create a bespoke tracker inside your BuJo.
4. KEEP A COMPLIMENT LOG
Does your inner critic get the better of you at times? Do you find it difficult to give yourself a pat on the back? Have you ever fallen into the comparison trap on social media, feeling like everyone else is doing a great job and you’re failing to keep up?
If so, you’re not alone! We all have negative chatter inside our heads from time to time.
The secret is to know how to tame that voice so it doesn’t hold us back! You have to strengthen the muscle that helps you refocus when you start to believe what those voices are saying. A compliment log is a simple, but powerful way to remind yourself of all your incredible skills and positive traits. Create a section in your bullet journal where you write down all the nice things people say to you – include the little things too. In my compliment log, I simply write the date I received a compliment, the actual compliment and the initials of who said it. In time, you’ll build up a bank of compliments that you can refer back to every time those doubts start to creep in. When the truth is staring you in the face, it’s harder for the negative voice to convince you it’s true.
I also love to include inspiring quotes in this section. It’s surprising how a simple quote can help shift your thinking down a more empowering road – so you can gift yourself a better day.
ACTION STEP: What do you usually do when you receive a compliment?
Create a section in your bullet journal and dedicate it to your compliments collection. As you start noticing the compliments you receive [because you’re going to write them down], don’t be surprised if they come more frequently. Your brain always shows you more of what you focus on.
5. KEEP A GRATITUDE SPREAD
Keeping track of things you’re grateful for helps you to be more mindful and intentional. Not just the big things either. Being grateful for the smallest of things such as a smile or a beautiful sunset can change the way you think.
You may even find that the more you track your gratitude, the more you notice even the little things you’re thankful for. I know that while I’m grateful for many things, it’s not usually top of mind for me. Including a gratitude spread (click that link for more of them!) really helps me reflect and acknowledge them all, and most importantly, take the time to appreciate them. There’s a world of difference between thinking about gratitude and actually writing it down.
Gratitude will also put you in a more positive mood. It’s really hard to feel down when your focus is on the things you’re grateful for. This is such a simple self-care practice, but it’s one that can have a disproportionate impact if you do it regularly.
ACTION STEP: Decide how often you’ll practice gratitude – you may decide this is something you want to do daily. Next, create a template in your bujo so you can monitor this self-care process. Check out the examples below for some inspiration.
Self-care is one of the most powerful practices you can invest in to boost your productivity and help you get more from your life. What’s more, as we’ve seen in this blog there are plenty of small things you can try that will make a big difference.
How do you fit self-care into your normal routine? And do you include it in your bullet journal?
Please share your experiences, tips, and tools in the comments below.
This blog post was originally published in October 2016 and has since been updated and republished.