Everyone has dark days of their own. Those days can feel very long and demotivating. We shut ourselves from talking or socialising with other people because all we want to do is be alone. A reminder to everyone that it is okay to not be okay. There is no rule in the book that says we have to be happy every second. What matters is how we cope with it – for me that is journaling.
I started journaling ever since I was in secondary school. Mainly, it was to place my thoughts in a more orderly way to make sense of what I was feeling. At that time, it was more like a diary with a little bit of drawings here and there. I know for a fact that everything that was written in the book, stays safely in the book so I did not have to worry.
Eventually, I discovered bullet/creative journaling. This form of journaling was more than just writing accordingly. Rather, it has more visuals, colours, graphs and all sorts of things depending on how you want it to be. It takes effort to keep a journal in the long run but once you get the hang of it, it is indeed life changing.
Hence, how does journaling help me from spiralling on bad days?
Creating My Own 12-Month Calendar
Firstly, my journal has a self-drawn 12-month calendar for me to schedule appointments and reminders. I have always wanted my calendar to be in my preferred sizing. Sometimes the ready-made ones are either too small or too big, so the solution to this is to create my own.
Call me old fashioned, but I dislike digital calendars. Writing it down manually gives me more motivation to accomplish something because whenever it is completed, I get to cross it out with full of content (or is it just me?). Not only that, considering it is a daily journal, every time I flip through the pages, I will see how much I have accomplished that week and that would be my drive to achieve more.
Keeping A Daily Habit Tracker
If you are not familiar with a Habit Tracker yet, it is pretty much self-explanatory. Whether it is an old or a new habit that I just picked up, tracking my habits is a step to improve both my physical and mental well-being. This quotidian activity was a little bit tedious at first, but it is the outcome that disciplined me into committing to it.
According to James Clear, some of the benefits of habit tracking include but not limited to:
#1 A reminder for you to act.
#2 A motivation for you to continue.
#3 A provider for immediate satisfaction.
Though, there is no fixed guide in what to put on your daily habit tracker. From my experience, I arranged my habit trackers based on what I needed to prioritise. For instance, waking up and going to bed on time, drinking 8 glasses of water, read a book for 5 pages and more. As I cross out the columns, I can clearly see the progress of keeping up with my habits. If I feel a certain way sometimes, I can refer to this tracker to see what I am lacking and work from there.
Doodling and Self-Expression
Apart from scheduling my days and keeping my habits on track, I have dedicated one section in the journal to let myself be free. This is where I express my thoughts and feelings as well as unleash my creativity by doodling. As I mentioned earlier, writing what I feel helps me to clear what is in my head at the time before it gets too overwhelming.
I am also a stationery freak, so I own at least a hundred of stickers and washi tapes. I would decorate these pages with them to have a sense of validating my feelings. It is a way of telling myself that what I feel is true and no one can me otherwise. I have not always been great at coping with difficulties but expressing it into words has helped me to be at peace.