There’s one specific way to combine art and wellbeing which stands out, and that is bullet journaling. No, there are no limits to the diverse ways we can all experiment with art and creativity to boost our wellbeing, and all do help. Bullet journaling stands out simply because it focuses on how we think and feel, and records and expresses this in a direct but practical way, through word and image. It’s a quick form of journaling, so it can become a regular part of your routine, requiring little spare time.
Integral to any journaling for wellbeing is expressing yourself. Issues like overthinking, which so fuel anxiety and depression, can be eased by journaling. By allowing you to commit your thoughts to paper, rather than letting them fester in your head, it can be liberating and can also help you clear your mind. Getting those thoughts outside, onto paper, can help you weigh them up, think them through, sometimes think what to do about them as well.
But journaling can seem daunting. Looking at blank journal pages, the thought of covering them with a long entry every day, a muddle of thoughts and fears maybe, could seem a hurdle in itself. So this is why many people turn to bullet journaling. It’s briefer, more pictorial and colourful, and more practicable. Obviously a bullet journal can take whatever form you like, but many have common features. People use mood trackers – drawing colour circles or shapes to represent and record mood from one day to another, or using a symbol instead, like a flower or a bird. Many people divide up a bullet journal by month, and have a to-do list for that month, a goal or a particular focus. Colour’s really important – use colour pens to head your pages, divide the journal into sections, or to colour in page backgrounds. It all makes the “bujo” as they’re known more attractive.
What I feel is also important is that the bullet journal need not be an endless record of moods and fears. It needs to be a positive space too, where possible, to balance out thoughts. So I like the idea of writing out and illustrating positive sayings – maybe motivational sayings you see online, or quotes from books or song lyrics. Illustrate them with a colourful border or with a drawing inspired by the saying. You could also try scrapbooking, sticking into your journal cuttings from magazines or printouts of nature photos maybe. This way a bullet journal can become a little treasury of positive sights and thoughts, as well as a way to explore the negative.
Some people might run a mile from bullet journaling – fearing it would itself open up a flood of emotions, or mire them deeper in obsessing over moods and feelings. But journaling could also be a way to set those obsessive patterns aside for a time, expressed on paper and laid aside. Bullet journaling can also be a constant when other people aren’t always on hand to talk and support. And if people are seeing a counsellor or therapist, journaling can be a place to write down and record what the therapist says or to remember questions to ask another time.
Bullet journaling is a theme I’m exploring from time to time in my new Facebook group, Think Art, a group focusing on how art can help mental health. It would be great if you’d like to join the group (1) Think Art | Facebook Thank you!