Are you fed up of your anxiety taking over? Are you overwhelmed at university and struggling to manage your time better?
My answer: Bullet Journaling.
Ever since moving to a new city, starting university and meeting lots of weird and wonderful people at the start of my degree, not only did I feel a sense of achievement, but I also started to feel overwhelmed at lost. My own personal journey started with a huge move from a tiny village outside of Hull to the large city of Manchester – this in itself felt like an achievement. The move from living in a house with just my parents, to halls with ten other people, was interesting, to say the least. After settling in for a few months, I realised that balancing university and my social life was becoming increasingly difficult (and instilled into my brain from day 1 of lectures).
I started journaling.
So… how does this link to anxiety?
My own personal experience with anxiety started during my first year of sixth form. I really struggled to go to sixth form and my attendance suffered because of this. I only really started to help control my own anxiety when I went to university and started bullet journaling. A lot of my anxiety heightens when I am feeling down and when I am overwhelmed with situations, such as moving to a new city and starting university. Starting journaling let me organise my time better and it also became a hobby of mine to do for downtime on my own, when I didn’t want to be surrounded by my flatmates and friends at university.
I came across bullet journals on Pinterest one day when I was bored with the Mancunian rainy weather and thought that it could be a good idea to start to document my life. It was also partially due to my terrible memory and I wanted to note down all the new memories I was making on my journey at university. Without buying my own journal, I thought I’d try it out on a piece of paper. I have always been a big fan of the ‘to-do list’, so bullet journaling as an answer to a glamorous ‘to-do list’ appealed to me. I started by, every morning, writing down what I wanted to accomplish during the day, whether it be catching up on a lecture I missed or something less significant, like watching last night’s episode of Love Island. As I crossed each ‘to-do’ task off, I would also write about how I felt during the day, whether I felt as though I had been productive, or if I was having a day off from doing my work. This is how I first started to get into journaling.
After a week of doing this, I decided to buy my own journal and really started investing a bit more time into organising my life using this bullet journal. Each week of the year has its own two-page spread in which I write down my plans for the week, such as meeting up with friends, lectures and tutorials at university and also reminders for my favourite tv shows. I didn’t realise how something so small as having a bullet journal can impact my life, but I now feel so much more organised with my social life and my university life and I have never missed a deadline since.
Not only do I now write in my bullet journal daily for my ‘to-do list’ and the daily events, but I also started writing a ‘gratitude’ page and a ‘daily headlines’ page. This is not essential for bullet journaling, but it’s something that makes me reflect on my day and keep up to date with current events. I also sometimes complete doodles and drawings in my journal to fill in blank pages.
I find the gratitude page one of the most useful in my bullet journal because being able to reflect on your day in a positive way allows you to be aware of the things in life you should appreciate. For example, if I had a bad day at university but called my friend about it and they listened to me, that would be written in my gratitude section because despite how bad my day was, I had a friend there for me to listen to how my day had been. I also refer back to my gratitude pages when I’m feeling sad to remind me that good things are going on, and every day can have a positive, no matter how terrible it’s been.
Benefits of bullet journaling:
Time management – this is really important to keep on top of as a student because a good work-life and social-life balance allows for a greater organisation of your free time being spent wisely
Organisation – never missing a date! I know this one sounds simple, but writing down when you’re going on a night out or when you have an important deadline or lecture, allows for ease of mind when you can visually see your schedule in front of you
Spending time with yourself – learning to be alone and independent, especially as a university student, is really important. Depending on how much time you want to dedicate to bullet journaling, it can be a quick escape from being around other people and you can focus on yourself and a bit of self-care
It’s completely personalised – your journal can be as creative or uncreative as you want it to be, you can decorate it, you can draw in it, paint in it, etc. or you can just use it generically, but it’s your choice and you choose how you want to use it
It’s fun! – this one might just apply to myself because I’m a huge stationery nerd, but I really enjoy writing in my journal and finding new ways to be creative in it
I’m Chloe, a third-year social anthropology student at the University of Manchester. Please see my social media pages if you’re interested in bullet journaling or if you have any questions!