If you follow me on Instagram, you have seen me take on a baking challenge titled #BakeYourFeelsChallenge. For the Instagram challenge, I use my mood tracker to inspire the baked goods I make for that week. In the first week, I made banana cinnamon rolls for a week that was literally bananas. The second week was represented by a raspberry lemon cheesecake. And for the third week, I needed ALL THE CAFFEINE, so I made dirty chai cookies.
I am a data-driven person, so I enjoy using data to learn about myself. Mood tracking has helped me recognize patterns in my moods, find triggers that I didn’t know existed, and paint a clear picture of who I am. Mood tracking can help impact the decisions we make, influences our experiences, and affect the way we think about ourselves and possibly others.
Define Mood Tracking
You might be asking what exactly it means to mood track. It is a technique where people record their moods in time intervals, usually by day, to identify patterns regarding their emotions. People who deal with depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses tend to benefit significantly from mood tracking. The reason they help is that they can figure out if their mood is caused by the chemical imbalance in their head or by a situation in their life that triggered them.
As someone who suffers from depression and anxiety, I am not always aware of why I feel the way I do. Mood tracking has allowed me to figure out whether my depression is a chemical imbalance or triggered by an outside force, such as work. By using my own data, I can go back to see what I was feeling without having to remember if I was happy or depressed.
Mood tracking also allows you to learn about yourself. Are you usually happy? How often am I angry? Is there a correlation between the time of the month and my happiness? If you look at my mood tracker, you can see that I am most stressed at the beginning of the month because of work and more exhausted in the summer due to my dislike of the Austin heat.
Benefits of Mood Tracking
As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, tracking your moods helps you learn more about yourself. Tracking your daily feelings allows you to compare your emotions to where you go, things that happened in your life, and even who you see that day. You can then stop the negative influences that are causing your mental health to suffer. That will lead to you learning how to handle situations that affect you, such as work stress or relationship issues.
Furthermore, it allows you to make any wellness changes in your life by seeing what you wrote and what triggered you. Seasonal fluctuations in the weather or daylight, noise pollution, air quality, and natural disasters can drastically affect your moods. I find that Austin summers negatively affect my emotions as well as weekends when I eat a bunch of unhealthy food. While you cannot change natural disasters, you can change the food you eat, where you travel, and how you sleep.
Another benefit of mood tracking is that you are helping your doctor and yourself. Take your mood tracker with you and show it to your doctor. They will be able to help you better and see the bigger picture of what you are going through mentally. My mood tracker helps my doctor see what I have been feeling and see how my anxiety is affecting my life.
How To Mood Track
Tracking your mood doesn’t have to complicated. It can be something simple as writing your feelings out, coloring, or creating an actual graph to represent the changes.
To mood track, you have four things to consider:
- How will you mood track? I use self-care and wellness journals to track my feelings, but you can use anything. Some people use bullet journals, planners, personal journals, apps, or even just an Excel sheet. I highly recommend using Pinterest to find some inspiration for mood trackers styles.
- What information will you track? I track exercise, food and calories consumed, hours slept, my moods, water intake, menstrual cycle, and impactful life moments. From mood tracking, I realized that there is sometimes a correlation between all of these factors and my moods. It is up to you do decide what you would like to track and what you can track. You can also add more stuff as you get in the habit. Other things you can capture are gratitude, affirmations, thoughts, therapy sessions, and medication.
- Just start tracking. You might find yourself not liking your first plan, and that is okay. Find a style that you personally like, and that works for you. Everyone has to start somewhere.
- Be honest. You need to be honest with yourself. Mood tracking won’t work if you find yourself saying you are happy all the time when you are really depressed. Let yourself be vulnerable and be honest.
With a little bit of daily effort, you can start noticing your moods, finding patterns, and adjusting your life according to the data you collect. Remember that it is normal to get moody. Understanding your emotions can help you manage them, and if you feel like something is off, please see a healthcare professional.