This week I wanted to take the time to share on a subject that I believe needs to be discussed more and taken much more seriously in our society and in my social circles. And that is the subject of mental health, specifically regarding the various forms of depression and anxiety. More people struggle with these issues than we know and it’s time we all talked about the elephant in the room.
I’ve searched high and low for ways to manage these two illnesses in my life after realizing there wasn’t a “fix all” solution that would magically make it all go away. Surprisingly, my planner, has helped me realize that it’s more of a balance and combination of several solutions. This seemed odd, to me at first, since aren’t planners supposed to make you uber productive and vigorous? Which seemed like the last two things I seemed to be able to do in my lowest lows. But planners are so much more than being productive. More than anything, they’re about living your life by design and empowering you to make space for what matters. So I wanted to take the time to share the “aha’s” I have had through using my planner in this aspect.
As a disclaimer, I am not a licensed therapist. Any and all advice or thoughts I share here are purely my own that have been formed through my own experiences. I so recommend that anyone who is struggling with their mental health to seek out a licensed therapist through psychologytoday.com in your area that you can trust to walk you through processing and healing some of these illnesses. If finances are an issue, many therapists offer sliding scale fee options (it’s all based on your income and usually very affordable) or can direct you somewhere where you can get affordable help. It’s also becoming more and more common that insurance providers do cover general therapy, so be sure to check with your insurance too! I LOVE THERAPY and it has helped me so much.
If you find yourself having thoughts of harming yourself or even others, please, please contact the National Suicide Hotline and find some relief. They now have a live chat feature as well if you don’t feel well enough to make a phone call.
1. TRACK YOUR DAYS: GOOD & BAD
The first way that my planner really helped me with depression and anxiety is through tracking good days and bad days discreetly. There’s several ways you can do this. One idea could be through the monthly layout in your planner and circling dates that are good days and then maybe using a triangle for days that are bad days. I also try to write down things in my planner that are good memories or even if there’s something really bad or hard that happened, I stil try to track it. That has helped me see that I have patterns that contribute to my mental health in good and bad ways. If I don’t get out of the house at least every other day for example, then I tend to get really low and have multiple bad days in a row. If I get to the gym consistently, spend lots of time with friends and family, then I began to notice that I had a lot of really good days in a row.
2. TRACK YOUR HEALTH HABITS
The second way was that tracking my exercise, water, meals and sleep helped me to see that lacking in these things and not making them a priority DEFINITELY contributed to my mental health. I had one week where I had worked 6 days in a row with no exercise, poor diet and little sleep and I fell into a really deep low. I also used to tell myself “Oh, I exercise pretty consistently” but then I would look at my planner and realize I had only worked out two days that week. Hmmmm. So then I would give myself a goal of doing something active at least 3 days a week. Exercise should be something you enjoy! I hate how our culture makes it seem like you need to be miserable and suffer through it. If you enjoy it, you’re more likely to do it. (This is why I play volleyball 3 nights a week!) All that being said, I definitely recommend looking at your planner to see if you can track these items within it. I use the weekly layout in my Hobonichi to track these items and it really helped me want to stay consistent (don’t wanna break that streak!)
3. FIND SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO
When I was in high school, I used to look at my giant desktop pad and find something to look forward to that week. Whether it was youth group or a basketball game, I would always tell myself, “two more sleeps until XYZ!” I realized that just because I wasn’t in high school anymore didn’t mean I couldn’t do that again! Actually, I realized I should all the more do that because being an adult is HARD. So on Sundays I would work on finding at least one thing in my upcoming week that I was looking forward to and excited about. It really helped me to keep going and push through some hard moments. It also made me realize that sometimes I would look at my upcoming week and wouldn’t have anything planned or committed to that I was particularly excited about. So that would set me into action with making plans with a friend to go see a movie, go hiking, etc.
4. MAKE IT FUN!
The last thing that has helped me immensely is making my planning FUN! My planner is wild and colorful and sure, some may think it’s tacky, but I think it’s cute as heck. I love looking at my planner and it’s a happy place for me to be. Make your planning your own! Maybe you could add doodles for upcoming work meetings. Or you can add a funny quote or inspiring song lyric each day. This is initially what drew me to planning, was seeing all these amazing, fun, super cute planning spreads on Instagram that made life so fun. It also helped me realize that I wanted to fill my days with things I loved doing and spending time with people I love.
I hope you have found this helpful! As always, you can find a video below walking through these same tips. I’d love to know if using your planner has helped you at all with dealing with any mental illness, specifically including depression and anxiety. I can promise you all, that it DOES get better and that you are very much loved and worth it. <3