The Perfect Beginner’s Bullet Journal Notebook Review

It has been coming to my attention recently that a good portion of my viewership is bullet journal beginners and I get a lot of questions regarding my notebook recommendations. While I will always recommend a Leuchtturm 1917 or a Rhodia Goalbook, for the first 3 or 4 years of my bullet journaling journey I used an Essentials Gridline A5 Notebook. Here I will be reviewing the Essentials A5 Notebooks for bullet journal beginners! This post may include affiliate links.

While I used the gridline, Essentials A5 notebooks (made by Peter Pauper Press Inc.) also have dot matrix, blank, and lined page types! I will only be discussing the gridline and dot matrix.


Essentials Notebooks Specs (A5 Gridline & Dot Matrix)

  • 100-gsm acid-free/archival paper preserves your work
  • Inside back cover, pocket holds notes, business cards, etc
  • Elastic band attached to back cover keeps journal closed
  • Ribbon bookmark keeps your place
  • Durable hardcover binding
  • Classic A5 size (5-3/4 inches by 8-1/4 inches)
  • 192 dot-grid pages
  • Available on Amazon: Dot Matrix & Grid)
The Perfect Beginner’s Bullet Journal Notebook Review

First Impressions

I started using this notebook so long ago that I do not even remember my first impression, though I have always been impressed with the notebook. I just happened to be lucky, and the essentials notebooks were the first I happened across when I went out to actually search for a bullet journal. My first journal was different, but I had not bought that notebook for bullet journaling originally.

I would love to hear what your first impressions of the essentials notebook are! Submit them in the comments below, and I might add them to this post!

The Perfect Beginner’s Bullet Journal Notebook Review

Pros & Cons of the Essentials Notebooks

Like any other notebook or product, there are pros and cons. This section will focus on my personal pros and cons for the Essentials notebook after years of use.

Pros:

  • Hardcover is durable
  • Elastic band keeps the notebook from getting damaged and bent
  • Pocket in the back is a great place to store loose notes
  • Thick, smooth pages make ink look vibrant and write smooth
  • White pages (this could be a con if you prefer off-white)
  • Great price for the quality (generally around $9-$12; equivalent notebooks can run as high as $30)

Cons:

  • Only one color choice – black
  • Pages are not numbered (this can be a pain if you like to have an index)
  • Only one ribbon, some people prefer two (you can easily add a second ribbon DIY style)

Final Impression

Do I recommend this notebook? YES, 100% yes. I particularly recommend this notebook for beginners because it’s a great quality notebook to learn in without being worried about ruining an expensive notebook. I used this notebook for the first 4ish years of bullet journaling, it’s perfect. The most significant and really only issues I have with the Essentials notebooks is the lack of page numbers and color options. However, if you are into a plain black journal, don’t mind adding your own page numbers (or don’t use them) then there should be no issue! I create all my gifted notebooks using the essentials notebooks, and everyone always raves about them.

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The Benefits of Anxiety Journaling & Why You Need It

Since my move to North Carolina, I have been seeing a counselor on a monthly basis. Counseling is super valuable and I have learned a lot from it, including a lot about myself. One practice that I have taken from counseling is to track my anxiety. In my second session with my new counselor, she suggested that we track my anxiety feelings in a journal or on my phone—of course, I chose to write in a journal? Here are some benefits of creating your own journal.

Anxiety Journaling

What is anxiety journaling you might ask? Well, it’s a notebook, journal, notes app, etc. where you keep track of your anxious feelings. This can be done a million different ways. For me, as I said, I write in a cute little elephant journal. However, maybe your you, its easier to keep track on your phone. That’s entirely up to you!

I can imagine dozens of ways to track the anxiety, and it’s really up to you and perhaps your therapist. I personally take note of what the feeling is about, what my thoughts are while experiencing the anxiety, the severity of it (mild, moderate, high or severe), and the date and general time of day I experienced it.

The Benefits of Anxiety Journaling

Knowledge, Awareness, and Personal Growth

One of the greatest benefits I’ve seen since I started my journal is increased knowledge. Before I had tracked my anxiety, I knew that it happened and I maybe had an idea of what generally triggered it, but I really didn’t know anything about my patterns. Since tracking I have learned that I feel a lot of my anxiety in the morning. It is also generally triggered by driving and an ability to plan for or control something, especially in advance. There were some anxiety-provoking situations that don’t follow those trends of course, but that’s okay.

Not only am I tracking my feelings of anxiety, but I am learning more about myself and becoming aware of who I am and how my anxiety influences me. Naturally, when you gain knowledge and become more aware of something, you are able to grow. I am still in the knowledge collection and awareness stage but I am beginning to see myself grow. I am more able to tell you who I am regardless of the anxiety instead of defining myself by it. What I what and who I am is becoming more clear and I become more open to myself.

Overwhelmed?

I know how it may seem, overwhelming right? You already have anxiety, why do you need to worry about paying attention to it! I experience this on the occasion but mostly I have to make the choice not to worry about it. When I feel anxiety, it's not uncommon for me to not think much of it and go about my day. That’s okay, I’m used to those feelings occurring regularly and it will take a long time to build the habit of thinking about it and writing it down. It’s okay to forget sometimes.

It’s also okay if it’s not perfect. Sometimes you can’t really figure out why you are experiencing those feelings. That’s okay, write that down. Acknowledge the unknown feelings and over time you’ll become more knowledgeable and aware of its causes. This is a process and you won’t be able to do it perfectly, no one could. Just do your best.

So, with all this being said, what do you have to lose by trying an anxiety journal? Let me know how it goes for you!

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The Benefits of Anxiety Journaling

65 Encouraging Journal Prompts + 10 Quotes

Journaling is such a good way to de-stress and stay mentally healthy. I generally use journaling as a debrief at the end of my day or to encourage and motivate me at the beginning. Here are 65 encouraging journaling prompts.

Encouraging Statements

  1. Name 5 qualities you like about yourself.
  2. Write about a time where you felt courageous.
  3. Name 5 things you are grateful for today.
  4. Name 2 of your weaknesses and come up with a way to strengthen them.
  5. Compliment yourself.
  6. List ways to pamper yourself.
  7. Repeat after me: I CAN DO THIS, I AM CAPABLE.
  8. List today’s goal and how you can accomplish it.
  9. Write 5 positive emotions and when you have felt them.
  10. Fill the page with the phrase, “I am capable.”
  11. List 3 characteristics you wish you had and how you can train yourself to become them.
  12. Fill the page with affirming words.
  13. Fill the page with good things about you.
  14. Lists things you have successfully done.
  15. Fill the page with the phrase, “I am beautiful.”
  16. Name your strengths.
  17. Fill the page with things you are grateful for.
  18. List 10 skills you have.
  19. List 5 reasons you like yourself.
  20. Write about an experience that sucked, but you survived and are now stronger because of it.
Encouraging Prompts Credit Ivory Mix
image credit: Ivory Mix

Encouraging Questions

  1. What makes you awesome?
  2. What do other people love about you?
  3. Why did you wake up this morning?
  4. What do you like to do to prepare for your day?
  5. What are you doing right?
  6. How can you accomplish your goal today?
  7. What are your goals this week?
  8. What is your goal today?
  9. How can you pamper yourself today?
  10. How can you succeed today?
  11. What are 5 things you are excited about?
  12. What makes you great?
  13. How have you overcome a difficult obstacle recently?
  14. What do you want and how can you get it?
  15. Why are you proud of yourself today?
  16. What makes you beautiful?
  17. Doodle yourself as your favorite superhero or role-model. How are you like them?
  18. Why are you a great human being?
  19. How have you recently cared for your own wellbeing?
  20. How have you learned from your own mistakes?
Encouraging Prompts Credit Ivory Mix
image credit: Ivory Mix

Encouraging Fill-in-the-Blanks

  1. I am successful because…
  2. I am loved by…
  3. In 5 years, I will…
  4. I am grateful for…
  5. I can do….
  6. People enjoy me because…
  7. I enjoy…
  8. My favorite personality trait of mine is…
  9. I am grateful because…
  10. Today’s goal is to…
  11. I am strong because…
  12. I am beautiful because…
  13. When I do something right, I feel…
  14. I am capable of…
  15. Today, I will…
  16. I can be…
  17. I love to…
  18. In 10 years, I will…
  19. I am excited for…
  20. I can be who I want to be, who I want to be is…
  21. Today I feel…
  22. I am pretty because…
  23. I know I can because…
  24. People tell me I am… (positive things only!)
  25. I am… (positive things only!)
Encouraging Prompts Credit Ivory Mix
image credit: Ivory Mix

Encouraging Quotes

  1. Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. – Arther Ashe
  2. The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  3. Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. – Helen Keller
  4. Our Greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. – Thomas Edison
  5. Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward – Victor Kiam
  6. Speak up for today will never come again
  7. Believe in yourself
  8. She believes in you even if you don’t
  9. You are beautiful always
  10. You must do the things you think you cannot do. – Eleanor Roosevelt

Try adding these quotes to your planner or bathroom mirror!

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65 Encouraging Journal Prompts + 10 Quotes