Writing in a journal has been shown to have many positive effects (including mental health benefits like stress reduction and the fact it’s self-therapy), with gratitude journaling in particular related to outcomes like greater feelings of contentment and happiness, lower anxiety levels, and improvements in sleep. As journalling allows you to reflect on things happening in your life, tracking your mood is another way to get in touch with your emotions.
Mood journaling can be completed in a notebook or via an app and the practice allows you to log how you feel and in time, you’ll be able to pinpoint trends and triggers. This way, you can see what events or experiences boost your mood versus those that negatively impact it.
As Greatist points out, the end goal of mood tracking is a personal one: “Maybe you want to discover what causes your emotions or maybe you’re trying to understand your response to certain emotions.” Whatever it may be, this is a helpful practice that allows you to tap into your feelings and the reasons behind them.
The mental health benefits of mood tracking
The way you feel impacts the way you think and informs the way you act, so if you think about it, your mood is responsible for a lot in your life. Once you begin to see trends emerge in your mood journal, it better allows you to change your behaviour in the future.
Putting your thoughts and emotions down on paper has also been shown to reduce anxiety and depression. Pinpointing trends within your mood will allow you to avoid those triggers and in turn, could help improve your mental health.
How to track your mood
The first thing to do is choose your method of tracking — your choices are a tracking app that you can download from your app store or a simple notebook. This is a personal choice depending on if you prefer digital tracking or instead, like to jot things down by hand.
Next up is learning how to identify your emotions. Greatist recommends using the “Wheel of Emotions” which gives you prompts as to how you might be feeling. While writing down how you feel might sound easy, the wheel might be able to help you identify exactly what is going on in your brain.
In order to see the results from this exercise, you have to commit to doing it daily. Take five minutes every night to fill in your log. When writing down your feelings and experiences from the day, take time to consider what might have caused these feelings — including any behaviours or actions from yourself or others — as well as reflecting on whether or not this situation is something that can be resolved.
At the end of the month, review your journal and pick apart the data. Jot down anything that comes through as a trigger as well as behaviours that you personally would like to change. At this point, you’ll be able to identify the things that positively impact you as well as those that have more of a negative outcome, which you know to avoid going forward. Then, using this information, plan your goals for the next month. A goal could be as simple as prioritising self-care because you noticed a boost in your mood after doing this the previous month.
The exercise isn’t just about focusing on what lowers your mood but also identifying the activities and experiences that impact your mood positively and allows you to make these a priority for the month ahead. Tracking your mood allows you to check-in with yourself on a daily basis and discover what makes