Bullet Journal Self-Care
I have a confession to make: I’m a bit of a workaholic. This doesn’t just apply to my full-time job. It also applies to my freelancing work, my side projects, even other people’s projects when they ask for my help. I tend to fall into the trap of thinking that if I can do something, I probably should do that thing. It’s not unusual for me to have every moment of my day scheduled. This isn’t bad, necessarily, but do you know what gets sacrificed to my relentless work schedule? I do.
When I fill every minute of every day with a task or a project, I’m giving up all the time that I might have taken for myself. I regularly let myself be my last priority. Unfortunately, I’ve learned in the last several years that this practice of putting myself last is not sustainable. When I’m not at my best, everything I’m involved in suffers for it.
One of my goals for this year is to take better care of myself. If I don’t intentionally set aside time for self-care, it won’t happen. Whenever I need to carve a space in my life or my schedule, my first response is to turn to my bullet journal. If I don’t write it down and plan it out, it won’t happen. As I prepared for the new year, I decided to create some bullet journal self-care spreads to help me make time for myself.
The Self Care Alphabet
I first came across the concept of a self-care alphabet on Pinterest, and I had to make a version of it for myself. There are so many ways to go about this, but I knew that in order to make it work for me, I had to add a time component. The biggest excuse I use for sacrificing self-care is that it takes up too much time. I need to avoid falling into that trap, so when I made my self-care alphabet, I made sure that every task or activity I included could be completed in 30 minutes or less.
It seemed daunting at first, but once I got started, I had no problem coming up with 26 quick and easy things I could do on a regular basis to show myself a little more love. Some of the things on my list take less than five minutes total, but every single one of them makes me happier. This two-page spread is full of ideas for a pick-me-up when I’m feeling stressed or anxious, and I know I’ll refer back to it again and again.
A List of Needs
I love the self-care alphabet for its simplicity. However, I realized as I was making the list that there were more things I wanted to include. I also realized that certain activities would really only work for me if I was in a specific mood.
I put a lot of thought into it and realized that when I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed, it’s typically for one of a handful of reasons. Either I’m tired and need of a break, I’m lonely, I’m feeling physically unwell, or I’m not making enough time for things that I love.
For this page, I divided my self-care activities up based on the “need” that they fill–rest and relaxation, companionship, health, or expression. For example, nothing makes me feel more relaxed than taking a nice, hot bath. It gives me 20 minutes all to myself, which is the perfect amount of time to decompress a little. Thus, “taking a hot bath” is right at the top of my list when I need some R&R.
Tracking my self-care
Another important step I’m taking to prioritize self-care is adding it to my monthly habit tracker. I’m a habit tracker addict. I love being able to see such a concise (and beautiful) snapshot of what I’ve done throughout the month. For the month of February, I’m making an effort to prioritize my self-care by tracking how often I do it.
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I added a box specifically for self-care that I’ll track on a more general basis. I also decided to break out some of my favorite self-care activities. I’m a happier, better human being when I read every day, so I’m tracking the number of days that I make time to read. I’m less stressed when I bullet journal daily, so I’m tracking that individually as well.
It’s only been a few days since I started, but I already love this system of tracking my self-care. It makes me more aware of where I’m spending my time. It also reminds me not to go too long without taking a little time for myself.
My last tip for incorporating self-care into your routine is also the most important step for me–schedule it. As I mentioned before, I’m a champion at keeping myself busy. My schedule fills up fast, and anything that isn’t planned in advance typically doesn’t get done. No matter how many lists I make or trackers I fill out, if I don’t set aside the time for self-care, it won’t happen. As I set up each of my weekly layouts, I’ll be carving out small chunks of time dedicated to taking care of myself. If you’re also in the habit of putting yourself last on your to-do list, I suggest you do the same.
Love yourself first
The simple truth is that we could all take better care of ourselves. We could all show ourselves a little more kindness. I have a good friend who often reminds me of the lecture you get on airplanes–the one about putting on your own oxygen mask before trying to help with anyone else’s. Self-care, as she so often says, is not selfish. You have to be at your best in order to do your best.