Bullet Journal (BuJo) for Chronic Illness
I love my Bullet Journal (BuJo for short)!
I wrote about using a BuJo professionally for Prae– so instead of redoing the intro, I’ll include a little below!
“Before you immediately start asking “why are we talking about this fad?”, hear me out! I had the same thought. Then there was an issue with the planner I had ordered for 2017, and I found myself almost in February with limited options to buy for a reasonable price to get what I needed out of a planner. That was when I thought, why not? What’s there to lose? I’ll give it a try!
If you look up Bullet Journals, or BuJo for short, you’ll find a lot of layouts, ideas, tips, and how to get started. A BuJo can be so many things- basically whatever you need it to be! It can serve as your to do lists, planner, journal, a combination of these things (and more!) with purpose and a little prepping included!
Needless to say, I’m hooked! I’ve been using it since then, and I’ll never look back. It has been so helpful for me in various aspects of my life such as keeping track of my to do lists, goals, habits, blog lists, social media data, and social media plans to name a few. I’ve used it for one-off’s such as when I was switching jobs to keep track of applications and eventually what I needed to do when I switched.
I use my favorite pens, stickers, and a notebook that I can fit in my bags for my BuJo. Of course mine are not perfect like the photos you might find online, but that’s the beauty of it- they do not need to be! I can change it along the way to fit my needs or when I find something that works for me. I’m not stuck to one layout for the entire calendar, fiscal, or school year. There’s room to experiment, improve, and make mistakes along the way. “
You can check out more about using BuJo’s professionally from my post on Prae.
For this post I am going to focus on the general aspect of BuJo’s and specifically related to chronic illness and mental health. I started looking into layouts and ways to use it for my chronic illnesses and mental health.
Welcome to my first spread!
Please note that I’m only including the general (all together) aspects of the diagnoses I have in this post. I’ll comment on specific diagnoses and have links for them because we are all so different. I’ll also talk about bringing them all together. Resources and links will be at the bottom of the post.
The General Aspects:
I’m not going to go into details on how to set up BuJo’s, uses, information, etc. Others have done that SO well!
Like I mentioned, I use my BuJo as a catchall for just about everything. I do however try to keep my professional and personal separate so I have two (and by professional I mean my 9-5 job. Other odds and ends are usually not in my main one.) It helps my tendencies of being a workaholic.
Next version of my spread
I use a monthly tracker, have weekly spreads, set goals or plans for the future and more. Those are things that have stuck with me. Other things are still in flux as I’ve started my second BuJo such as month at a glance or random things that come up. They might also be one and done’s- I used it to prepare for the crowdfunding for my book.
I prefer hard copy planners and have tried to use electronic calendars and to do lists- specifically using Google Calendar- but I do a lot better with pen and paper. I still use my Google for appointments and meetings especially things far in the future but even if it is on my Google Calendar, I still use my BuJo as the primary means.
There were always aspects of planners I liked, but I wanted to pull from different ones and have it all together (without paying the cost of personalization). PLUS- a lot can happen in a year- I might change how I use planners or have things come up and change the spreads aren’t set in stone so I can adjust as needed.
My third version of my spread
Just USING a BuJo for things maybe not even associated with my chronic illnesses and mental health helps those things!
Having everything in one place such as trackers, to do lists, calendars, and more is what really helps with the everyday and helps with all of my diagnoses.
General Chronic Illness and Mental Health:
I use a tracker for things like self-care, amount of sleep I had, if I worked out, etc.
I use my calendar to keep track of appointments in the month at a glance. Then I translate them to my weekly spreads. My weekly spreads include tracking my runs, meal planning, charging my devices, picking up prescriptions, scheduling appointments, things I need to do for management, and more. I also have fun stickers for some of these things.
I have my self-care Sunday scheduled and lazy days scheduled. Plus setting up my BuJo for the week on Sundays (with the stickers, coloring, planning out, and more) is a form of self-care!
My fourth version of my weekly spread
I’ve been working on a spread to keep track of it all together (and not just general chronic illness and mental health, but also what I live with). I’m still tweaking these. I’ve also been in burnout so I’m working on these things and hope that this will help.
Things I’ve been wanting to do with a spread:
- Track water
- Track meds
- Track and see trends
- Planning ahead
- Schedule things ahead of time
What I did:
I thought about each of my diagnoses and what I needed for each/what I would like to use my BuJo for.
I thought about hard copy diabetes logs I used growing up and other apps, resources, and more that I’ve used for everything else as well.
Plan it out. This is just important for the BuJo in general!
I’ve decided that I would have a few things on my weekly spread and monthly tracker- but I didn’t want everything to always be my chronic illness. Person first/ Identity first- balance- the like!
This is the weekly spread I am currently using!
Here’s what I ended up with:
A sort of tracker that I’ll keep playing around with- it’s my FIRST version so very much still a work in progress, and I already have plans for my next one.
Here’s the order:
- A daily medication tracker (basically- did I take my meds)
- My BG range for the day
- BG notes I might have (more exercise, sick, stress, etc.)
- My mood (which includes a color chart for what the colors represent)
- Any triggers (specific for my anxiety)
- PCOS/Endometriosis tracker
- A place to track specific BG’s at times I set
- A tracker for changing my lancet (added after I took the photo)
- An appointment tracker
Meet my chronic illness spread!
I’m really excited to see how this works with the rest of my BuJo (and to make changes along the way!)
I’ve included resources and things I used for my BuJo and for my first chronic illness spread below!
Here are some general BuJo resources:
- Boho Berry
- “Top 5 BuJo Ideas in 2016”
- “My favorite tips and tricks after 3 months with the bullet journal.”
- “23 Bullet Journal Ideas That Are Borderline Genius”
- “Steal-worthy Bullet Journal Weekly Spread Ideas”
Here are some chronic illness and mental health resources:
- “Bullet journal helpful for people with chronic illness”
- “How My Bullet Journal Became a Tool for Self-Care”
- “Here’s How To Use A Bullet Journal For Better Mental Health”
- “29 Bullet Journal Layouts For Anyone Trying To Be Healthy”
- “21 Genius Ways To Track Your Mental Health”
There is SO much when it comes to diabetes!
- @marshmallowmomma Instagram
- Blood Sugar Tracker from Etsy (I haven’t purchased this- but love the concept).
- Mini Size! Diabetes Planner Stickers on Etsy– recent buy! But I’m loving these.
- Blood Sugar Tracker Stickers on Etsy– I bought these and liked them a lot. I was using them more for BG ranges because I haven’t been into tracking and logging for a long time. It was a great reminder on my weekly spread to look at the data for the day.
- BG Monitor Stickers on Etsy– before I got the Diabetes Planner Stickers, I used these to remind myself for CGM and pumpsite changes. I use these more fun right now!
Mental Health- ADHD, Anxiety, OCD:
My ADHD gets the most benefit overall from using a BuJo. It helps with my scattered-ness. If I don’t write something down (even if I take my adderall), I WILL forget. I always have my BuJo and a pen with me.
- Self-care list (also managing anxiety)
- Recognizing triggers
- Mood tracker- I WANT this to happen- but I haven’t done well with it yet- we shall see.
- Reminders and quotes- I might journal out how I’m feeling- but each week, I have a quote sticker.
- “Why The Bullet Journal is perfect for my ADHD”
- “Bullet Journal for ADHD”
- “Managing Anxiety in the Bullet Journal: Part One”
- “5 More Ways to Manage Anxiety in my Bullet Journal”
- Mood Tracker Stickers on Etsy
Periods- PCOS and Endometriosis:
There are some great trackers for periods and fertility/pregnancy- but they didn’t fit with my needs. Along with diet and exercise.
I have flare-ups with my PCOS and endometriosis- so that is what I want to track here- when it happens and how I feel.
Supplies I Use:
- Moleskine Notebooks (this is what I personally prefer, but you can use anything!)
- Pens, pencils, markers, colored pencils, and crayons
- Washi tape
- Stickers: I have gotten other stickers on Etsy, but these are stores I go to again and again.
Hey you! Yes, you!
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