Stress Relief and Mindfulness in my Bullet Journal
A week for relaxation, self-care & creativity!
If you've been following my bullet journal journey on this blog, you might know how I love to combine doodle art with very simple, minimalist to-do lists for my layouts. Those suit my needs best: I can be productive, keep track of tasks, but still have fun.
A while ago, I decided to hit the brakes after a particularly intense period of work.
To make myself take a breath and be conscious of self-care for a week. Read on to see my weekly bullet journal setup that 'forced' me to take it slow, tackle some creative little ideas I'd been putting off, and be grateful for each moment.
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My Weekly "Self-Care" Bullet Journal Layout
Above you can see the result of that one week during which I focused on getting back on track. That meant:
- Detailed to-do lists that I could breeze through without thinking too hard or getting overwhelmed.
- Simple vertical columns to keep the pages clean & minimalist despite the busier little details.
- Little Polaroid frame doodles - about two per day for memories & gratitude logs.
- Boxes with enough space for a single sentence at the end of each day - again, as a gratitude log and diary.
- Flower pots for different projects that I wanted to pursue but that didn't have a concrete deadline. Inspired by my Pomodoro Technique in my Bullet Journal post, I added flowers for each finished step on those projects.
- Self-care activities in the form of four Polaroid doodles.
- "SLOW DOWN" calligraphy at the very top
This detail shot gives you a good overview of how that self-care layout worked.
- The daily Polaroid frame doodles were used mostly as a food diary because delicious food makes me happy!
- I went out into nature more during the week and sketched landscapes in those Polaroid frames, too.
- The "Blog" project potted plant shows that I finished two blog posts and started working on a third.
- I wrote a letter to my family back in Switzerland.
- Self-care activities that I wanted to squeeze in during the week: Little coin-sized watercolor galaxy art, doing my nails, taking the time to make smoothie bowls and other pretty/healthy food that makes me feel good, and botanical sketches because I enjoy those but rarely focus on them. I colored in the doodles as the week went on and I took the time for myself and those ideas.
When I get overwhelmed by too many steps or too many projects in my planner, it always helps to break them down into even smaller steps.
Creating a Schedule with Time for Everything
I rarely have time-sensitive steps since I'm self-employed and work from home. I just start working around 7 AM (or after getting back from Yoga on class days, so around 9 AM) and stop once I'm done sometime around 8-10 PM, usually with a lunch break and a coffee break/doing chores in the afternoon. So having a set of 'morning', 'afternoon', and 'evening' tasks makes it easier to stay on track and helps me judge if I'm fast & productive enough.
More tips on journaling & organizing for self-employed creatives:
Thursday and Friday were national holidays in Korea and we took the afternoon off to go see Black Panther. I love adding little doodles like movie tickets to my journal!
There's a wonderful tutorial on using creative journaling in your daily life. It's called "Draw Your Life" and it's a more elaborate version of what I do here, with tips on how to start and then take your journaling art to the next level, no matter your drawing skills. It especially appeals to the comic artist in me! You can give the tutorial class a try if you need some more inspiration to get started with your own doodle diary.
Future Log & Project Trackers
At the very top of the page, you can see a doodle shelf with my potted plant projects. Those were for work that was due the next week and - instead of specific work times during the week - just required me getting a head start on sketches and concepts. I drew the flowers for each completed work session (here, usually two to three hours) to make sure I didn't completely forget about them...
Even before that conscious effort at slowing down and committing to an entire week of self-care, I'd started to experiment with those diary doodles:
I wasn't joking about food making me happy! Lots of food doodles for my gratitude log~
Not only is delicious food a joy to eat, but cooking healthy meals and trying new recipes makes sure that I have lots of energy and am more conscious about other health issues, too.
Eating healthy -> More energy -> Feeling good -> Wanting to exercise -> Feeling even better!
My to-do lists during that week were arranged in constellations. That way, I've got them grouped by theme and priorities while still getting a pretty layout out of it.
I also started to go to Yoga classes in March, with a few free trial classes in February being the gateway drug. It helps to focus on any form of exercise as relaxation - especially when you work from home and would otherwise get ZERO movement in. Self-care can take on many different forms, and to have this class three times a week forces me out of my comfort zone (difficult poses), lets me release energy, relax, and be social all at the same time.
I made Polaroid picture frame stickers that you can print and put into your planners or journals - having the frames already in my layout makes sure that I actually fill them with doodles!
Matte Sticker Paper for printing your own Polaroid picture frame stickers! Using matte sticker paper for these is important if you want to draw with normal pencils or pens. Glossy/transparent sticker paper will require waterproof pens specifically for those surfaces.
If you're completely new to the idea of bullet journals or got overwhelmed by the sheer amount of possibilities, I really love this guide that takes you from the very basics of planning in a journal to the more complicated (but fun and creative!) parts like hand-lettering, decorations, and special page ideas. You can also find a lot of incredibly talented bullet journal artists on YouTube that take you through their monthly or weekly planning.
You can get TWO months of Skillshare Premium access for free as a reader of my blog! So if you're about to tackle journals, planning, a blog, a business launch, a creative project of any kind, you really need to check out their vast library of well-made tutorials - I've learned so much myself through Skillshare myself. My calligraphy skills have improved a lot, if I may say so! :)
Free Printable Gratitude & Memory Planner Page: Polaroid Frames
I made this freebie for everyone who doesn't have a journal (yet!) and would just like to use a single A5 page as an experiment. The seven Polaroid picture frames are perfect for a week-long gratitude or memory log challenge - a short enough time commitment to get you started!
- 7 days of food doodles
- 7 days of motivational quotes (to practice calligraphy!)
- 7 days of self portraits
- or MOTD / OOTD doodles like I created for this post.
I used doodle art for a variety of spreads in my bullet journal and travel diary so far: They're great for whenever you don't have time for elaborate drawings! A Polaroid picture frame and little details like tape at the edges makes even the simplest doodles look neat.
For more bullet journal art inspiration, read on below!