How to Make the Most of “Me Time”

Sometimes you just need a mental health day. And sometimes you get one, and then have no idea what to do with all that “me time.” So you end up feeling guilty, unproductive, and more dissatisfied than when you started. If this sounds familiar to you, then maybe it’s time to examine why you end up feeling this way, and what you can do to counteract it. Sure, “me time” can be a time to simply veg out, but if you’re finding that mental health days aren’t improving your mental health, try to figure out exactly what it is you’re feeling. Maybe you’re feeling disorganized or disconnected, and a day scrolling through Netflix or social media isn’t what you need to get back on track. Whatever it is, you can plan out ways to make the most of your “me time,” so you can be ready to tackle whatever life throws at you. 

If You’re Feeling Disorganized…

We all get that scattered feeling sometimes. It can really hit you when you’ve got down time, and are free to look around at the clutter surrounding you or obsess over all the tasks that seem to be piling up on you, and that you feel like you should be doing. If your mind is racing and jumping all over the place, and you’re trying to drown it all out with some binge watching, why not try instead:

  • Bullet journalingIf you’ve already got a bullet journal started, pull it out. If you haven’t started one, consider doing it now! This creative mix of planner and diary can be whatever you want it to be. You can choose to do anything from track your mental and physical health to plan meals, make shopping lists, and keep track of important dates. Working on your journal a little bit every day could go a long way in calming and focusing your mind.

    woman with curly hair sitting at her table with laptop open and a calculator in front of her and a pen in her hand.
    Take the time to tackle some of your finances!
  • Doing some admin – Sounds fun, right? Maybe not, but it can calm you and give you a sense of accomplishment to tackle some non-intimidating aspects of your finances. Think of filing away all of those receipts and paperwork that fill up your drawers and wallet, setting some bills to auto-pay (after you pay them and check them off your list!), or even starting an easy budget with a user-friendly app. 
  • Decluttering – You don’t have to go crazy and plan for a major overhaul of your whole house, but why not find an area of your bedroom, or a corner of your closet that you can easily reorganize? Pulling out things that you no longer use and donating them to charity can feel freeing- and can make at least a small part of your world look a little tidier and less stress-inducing. 
  • Jotting it down – It might be time to get back to basics and start making some good old-fashioned to-do lists, but try using some specific techniques to make them less intimidating and more focused. Start your lists with the smallest, easiest accomplished task. Keep only one task at the top of your list at a time, and cross it off as you complete it, then move on to the next. 

If You’re Feeling Disconnected…

How is it that we can live in a world where we are constantly connected but still sometimes feel so…disconnected? Scrolling through social media is not always the best way to bring yourself closer to your community or your network, or to humanity at large. Sometimes it just leaves us feeling like we’re missing out on something, or like we’re both isolated and overwhelmed at the same time. If you’re feeling this way, try…

caucasian woman sitting outside with her phone up to her face looking at it with a smile
Call or video chat with your friend to catch up.
  • Calling (or video chatting with) a friend – Sending a text or hopping onto social media are convenient ways to get a message across or superficially see what your friends are up to, but nothing can replace hearing the voice of someone you care about, with all of its emotional inflections. 
  • Paying for a stranger’s coffee – Sick of spending your time “liking” the posts of hordes of faraway acquaintances? One small act of random, in-person kindness is a simple way to feel an instant connection to another human – a tiny, digital thumbs up has nothing on a real smile on someone’s face. 
  • Cooking something you love and sharing it with a friend – If you enjoy cooking, it can feel like a creative and productive act, especially if you share your finished product with someone you care about. 
  • Volunteering Nothing makes you feel closer to your community than giving something back to it. There are so many ways you can give back; even if you only have a few extra hours of “me time,” you can still find an organization that would be glad of your time.

If You’re Feeling Like You Need Some (Self) Love…

Sometimes having extra time on our hands can mean extra time to criticize ourselves. A mental health day can be whatever you want it to be – but it shouldn’t devolve into that! If you’re already the type that makes to-do lists and beats yourself up if you don’t check off every single thing on it every day, or if you’re staring in the mirror and tearing yourself down, then stop and take some time out to live in the moment and just enjoy you, yourself. Try: 

  • Switching up how you get moving – If you’re the type that likes to blow off steam with crazy workouts, try slowing down with a yoga class and focus on breathing and feeling the strength of your body. If you’re more into the slow stuff, try a brisk, sweaty run and see how you feel – it might just invigorate you! back of a woman's head getting her hair cut by a pair of hands.
  • Pampering yourself – Sure, it’s cliched, but sometimes the best thing to do is to treat yourself. What does that look like for you? A mani-pedi? A new haircut and/or color? A massage? Buying something you’ve been saving up for but hesitating on? A simple ice cream cone, hopefully enjoyed with any guilt or other emotions attached to it? In fact, whatever you choose to do, surrender your senses to it and try to remove all feelings of guilt that may be attached to spending money or indulging in extra calories. 
  • Enjoying the silence – Unplug. Turn off the TV. Read a book. Rediscover your love of listening to music.
  • Resting! – That’s right, there’s nothing wrong with taking a much-needed cat nap. Curl up, get cozy, read till you fall asleep, and feel like a carefree kid again.
  • Writing – Even if you’re not the creative type, try journaling about what you’re grateful for, or the positive impacts you’ve had on other people’s lives – trust us, there’s a lot of both!

Having some extra “me time” on your hands is a gift, even if it doesn’t feel like it these days! It’s easy, though, to feel paralyzed when you find yourself faced with this gift, and to end up feeling like you missed your chance to refresh and restore. Don’t get us wrong: you don’t need to fill every moment of your life with tasks, you simply need to find ways to add a sense of calm, joy, connection, or satisfaction with yourself into your life. If that sounds like a difficult task, then start with the simple things that we have suggested – you might just be able to add the mental health back into your mental health day!

Journal Your Way To A Better Day

As anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues are on the rise, people are seeking natural, holistic ways to help relieve their day-to-day blues. Of course, you should always talk to a trusted doctor if you have serious concerns, but some people are able to manage their emotional ups-and-downs with coping mechanisms, like journaling. Adopting a journaling practice, like bullet journaling, is a great way to process emotions, prioritize and organize your life, and track everything from your successes to your mental health symptoms. 

Benefits of Journaling

caucasian woman sitting outside writing in a journal while smiling
Bullet journaling has many benefits such as improving your mood, while helping you relax your mind.

There are many studies that use a journaling practice as an intervention strategy for mental health issues like anxiety, trauma, or depression, as well as for those in high-stress situations, like college students, children in foster care, and families experiencing homelessness. Bullet journaling, like any journaling practice, has many benefits. Journaling has been proven to effectively:

  • Improve your mood
  • Enhance your sense of well-being
  • Reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression 
  • Reduce symptoms of intrusive thoughts and avoidance that are related to traumatic events
  • Improve memory and focus

A regular journaling practice positively impacts experiences of stress and anxiety by allowing you to:

  • Relax and clear your mind
  • Release feelings about anxieties and everyday stress
  • Write about struggles and successes
  • Focus on gratitude 
  • Enhance self-awareness and awareness of triggers
  • Track progress
  • Organize things big and small and plan for multiple outcomes and scenarios. 

These studies also show that the consistency and regularity of your journaling practice is key. A 2013 study found that expressive writing on any topic, from deepest, emotional thoughts to a simple daily event, for 20 minutes a day, three days a week, saw a significant decrease in symptoms of depression. It’s believed that journaling helps create a positive mindset by allowing you to confront negative emotions, focus on positive emotions, and organize a productive response. Writing in your bullet journal – one created by you, for you – is a great step toward a healthy mindset, and can provide you with valuable insight to better understand your own mental health. 

What Is Bullet Journaling?

Bullet Journaling, or “BuJo”, is a specific type of journaling that is a creative mix of planner-meets-diary. With some traditional journals, you fill in predetermined boxes for each day, week, month or year. A bullet journal is simply a blank journal that you create on your own. The beauty of bullet journaling is that, because it is entirely your creation, you can get as detailed, artistic, and organized as you want! You can do this freehand or by following stencils – there are many blogs and accounts on Instagram and Pinterest dedicated to BuJo layouts. With a bullet journal, you have the flexibility to choose what you are tracking, logging, and writing about. Some section ideas include: 


  • Mental health symptoms: Tracking your mood, anxiety, and mindset each day can help you to recognize patterns and triggers. Some therapists recommend this practice to help provide a framework for discussion in therapy sessions.
  • Physical symptoms: Many mental health issues have comorbid physical symptoms, like headaches, lethargy, and an upset stomach. Logging these symptoms can help uncover patterns that you can address with a professional.
  • bowl filled with bananas, oats and nut butter.Sleep logging: Tracking how many hours and the quality of sleep you are getting is important! Studies suggest that as much as 70% of the population doesn’t get enough high-quality sleep. Being tired exacerbates preexisting mental health conditions and sets you up for a long, stressful day, so it’s helpful to be aware of your sleeping habits.
  • Food tracking: Logging what you are eating and how it makes you feel is an important step toward a healthy relationship with food. Food tracking also helps you to focus on enjoying your food, and can bring a sense of mindfulness to your meals. 
  • Gratitude: Psychologists recommend a gratitude list as a critical way to build a positive mindset. By reflecting on what you are grateful for, you can train your brain to build positive associations and look for the good in things. Keeping a gratitude list in a BuJo that you look at often is an easy way to make this reflection a part of your daily routine.


  • Meal prep and grocery lists: Keep your lists and plans organized alongside your food tracker, building off of what meals you enjoyed and how they made you feel. 
  • Chores, appointments, and to-do lists: Some of us rely heavily on lists to stay organized! Keeping them in one central location, rather than scattered throughout the house on scraps of paper, will help you tackle those to-do lists. Having these lists can also ease any anxiety you have about planning for the week, and making sure you haven’t forgotten anything. 


  • Important dates like deadlines and birthdays: When you’re feeling overwhelmed by mental health symptoms, or even just daily life, it is easy to lose track of important dates. Keeping your calendar in one central location that you look at frequently, like your BuJo, helps avoid the stress of a forgotten appointment. 
  • Monthly cleaning calendar: Our home space is a reflection of our headspace! Use a monthly cleaning calendar to make your home feel less cluttered and more peaceful.
  • Budget tracking: Use this to track spending and plan finances. Financial stressors are a major burden, and having an organized log and plan helps many people breathe breathe easier.journal open with "make the world a better place" written in it with different color markers on the table next to it.

Other sections:

  • Words of affirmation: Used to inspire and uplift yourself when you’re feeling down
  • Self care strategies: Reminders of what you can do to relax and reset
  • Coping mechanism toolkit: Strategies to use when mental health symptoms are acting up
  • Page of wins: Logging victories, big and small, to reflect on when things seem hopeless.
  • Hobbies: Some people track how many books they’ve read, chart their plants’ growth, log their song-of-the-month, or note new recipes they’ve tried and loved. It can be inspiring to look back and remember things you love! 

Remember that your bullet journal is yours! Nobody is judging how professional it looks or what you’re choosing to track. Fill it with things that are important to you or that bring you joy, and it can be a useful tool for staying organized and staying positive. 

Getting Started

Even if you’re not actively experiencing any mental health issues, building a consistent journaling practice can only serve to support your emotional wellbeing. The best part is, you can probably start right now with just the things you have at home. But, if you choose to invest a little more in this routine, there are a few must-have materials. journal open with 2 blank pages

  1. The right journal: People swear by Moleskine’s dotted journal, but any journal with grids or dots will work – or even blank pages, if you’re talented! 
  2. The right pens: This is a matter of personal preference. Some people use their standard Bic pen or Crayola markers, and others choose to invest in higher quality calligraphy pens. Pick what suits your needs – you might have a few favorites that you use for different writing styles. 
  3. The extras: There are a multitude of BuJo extras available for purchase – stickers, washi tape, tabs, and more. Use whatever you need to help keep yourself organized and to keep your journaling fun!

Once you’ve gathered materials, you can turn to the many pages of inspiration on Pinterest and Instagram dedicated to creative bullet journaling layouts. It’s up to you to decide what to prioritize. You can build your BuJo around tracking mental health and habits, or you can start off with a page of affirmations and gratitude. You’ll probably want a mix of tracking collections, positive reminders (like the affirmations and gratitude), and then your weekly, monthly, and yearly planning sections. You are the author of this personalized planner, so you get to decide what goes where! There are many inspiring social media accounts and blogs dedicated to BuJos, but ultimately it has to work for you. So dive in, get creative, and see the benefits right away!