Whether it’s custom made, store-bought or an app, a mood tracker should be everyone’s new best friend.
No? You don’t journal? Okay. Don’t do mood trackers either? Pity. What kind of mood trackers, you ask?
I’ve got five pretty cool ones to get you started as soon as possible. They’re all different styles and I have them for 29, 30 & 31 days, so you should be good to go no matter what time of year you decide to start this awesome practice.
Well, alright then!
Sure, deciding to start using a mood tracker can be an excellent excuse to buy a nice new journal (not that you ever need an excuse to buy another journal), but it’s also good for you.
Using a mood tracker is like the little sister of journaling. When you can’t or don’t want to commit to an entire journal, just using a mood tracker alone is one of the biggest acts of self-care you can engage in.
Show yourself some love, girl.
5 Reasons why you should be using a mood tracker
Everybody gets different moods and when you get swept up in the moment it can be really hard to remember how you were feeling before it all began.
Sometimes you don’t even know what set off a certain kind of mood and logging it down can help you objectively see the triggers behind your mood changes.
1. See the patterns in your life
As you log your moods you will, over time, become more aware of your feelings, and the things that cause them.
Being able to look back and reflect on the things that made you happy, stressed, sad or sick can really gain you some crucial insight into your life.
I started using a mood tracker when I felt fatigued. It seemed like no matter how well I ate or how much I slept, I was still tired.
When I took my fatigue log to the gynaecologist with me, we figured out that I was iron deficient because of heavy periods.
Turns out that I had a treatable problem and didn’t need to suffer as I had, thinking that it was just ‘how I was’.
2. Being in a bad mood sucks
It’s just the worst, isn’t it? In sharp contrast to the days when you’re riding on the crest of the wave, finding yourself in a funk can really take it out of you. What makes it worse is when you don’t know why it’s happening.
Falling into that trap of thinking that “it’s just how I am” can quickly spiral into you convincing yourself that your (actually fixable) problem is just a part of who you are. You deserve so much better.
We, as girls and women, too often convince ourselves that we just have to bear the burden and suffer in silence. This is so not true. Life is much better when you take care of yourself, and usually, the big changes start by doing the little things.
Colouring in a mood tracker every evening will take no time at all, and provide you with important data on how you’re really feeling.
3. Your memory is a fickle
mistress little shit
When I get stressed and anxious I will quickly forget all about the good feelings. I forget that there ever was such a thing as a good feeling or a good day. Our memory is notoriously bad at the little details and our brain quickly fills in any gaps with extrapolations.
“A key element of emotional-memory formation is the direct line of communication between the amygdala and the visual cortex. That close connection, Phelps has shown, helps the amygdala, in a sense, tell our eyes to pay closer attention at moments of heightened emotion. So we look carefully, we study, and we stare—giving the hippocampus a richer set of inputs to work with.
At these moments of arousal, the amygdala may also signal to the hippocampus that it needs to pay special attention to encoding this particular moment. These three parts of the brain work together to ensure that we firmly encode memories at times of heightened arousal, which is why emotional memories are stronger and more precise than other, less striking ones.
We don’t really remember an uneventful day the way that we remember a fight or a first kiss. In one study, Phelps tested this notion in her lab, showing people a series of images, some provoking negative emotions, and some neutral. An hour later, she and her colleagues tested their recall for each scene. Memory for the emotional scenes was significantly higher, and the vividness of the recollection was significantly greater.”You Have No Idea What Happened, The New Yorker
Strong emotions overshadow the more ordinary and mundane moments. Your brain and body don’t distinguish between good and bad energy when it comes to the effort it takes to experience it.
When boiled down being happy or being stressed both take energy and effort to experience. Remember: being happy (and maintaining that energy level for long) can also make you tired.
Being tired can make you unhappy or stressed and those feelings can overrun the memories of being happy, leaving you with a sum-total of feeling like the whole day was bad – even when it started out great and you just forgot to take a break.
4. Understand your triggers
When you see a trend developing, for better or worse, you can start to think about what caused it. Did something change that made you feel better or worse? Did a certain change in mood coincide with memorable events?
Check your calendar and compare mood notes with events. Do specific people make you happy or sad? Do you feel more tired after one hobby and more energetic after another? How do different weather conditions influence your mood?
I get especially excited when we have foggy days and always want to go out exploring and soak up the atmosphere because it’s energising for me. For other people, fog can trigger that crawl-into-a-blanket-cave feeling because they prefer sunny days.
Understanding what causes changes in your mood and energy level is essential in understanding what makes you feel good. When you can start figuring out what’s good for you and what’s bad, you can start to build a life around yourself that makes you feel good, and eliminate those things that make you feel bad.
5. Live a better life
Everybody wants to feel better, feel happy more often. Feeling tired, sad and down is an essential part of life too though, and what you really want is to build up resilience so you can weather a whole range of emotions.
Because it’s so difficult to remember things after the fact, having it logged is really going to change how you view your life. This is data that once you’ve seen will be hard to unsee.
If what you see makes you happy, you will find that mood tracking gives you the drive to safeguard that happiness in your life. If what you see makes you discontent, you’ll find that you cannot go on without making a change.
“Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.”– Neil Gaiman, Why your future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming
What are you waiting for?
At the very least, using a mood tracker is very therapeutic – not to mention fun! Taking a moment every evening to sit down and focus on you is precious.
That brief moment of reflection on how your day was can really help you remember your gratitude and allow you to focus on the things that went right, rather than be overwhelmed by the things that went wrong.