I can’t remember exactly when I started tracking my mood, but at a guess I would say about 3-4 years ago. It would have been when I first bought myself a Happiness Planner. This planner prompts you to track your mood and since then, regardless of what planner/journal I’m using (I’m currently using the Positive Planner and looooove it) I’ve kept up this habit of tracking my mood.
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a few words or lines about how I’ve felt, noting whether or not I’ve had anxiety symptoms and any other triggers/causes of mood shifts.
The great thing about the some of the planners I’ve used is that you can plot your mood on a graph to spot patterns.
In the last couple of years I’ve also been adding menstrual cycle tracking to this. Just making a note of what day of my cycle I’m on. This is how I first spotted that my menstrual cycle has a big effect on my anxiety.
After a good few years of tracking my mood, I thought it may be helpful to highlight a few benefits here. I honestly think it’s been one of the best tools for raising self-awareness and has had a huge impact on my health (both physically and mentally).
So, let’s get into it.
Helps you build a deeper connection to yourself
This may sound obvious, but it can be so incredibly easy to get disconnected from ourselves. Think about the way social media constantly pulls our attention away from ourselves and instead into other people’s lives.
When I had my bad bout of anxiety a couple of years ago, I was so disconnected from myself I couldn’t pick out my own thoughts. Journaling and tracking my mood forces me to check in with myself daily. I ask myself how the day’s been, what’s happened, how am I feeling. Without my journal practice I’m just not sure I would do that.
There are of course other ways to build this connection and check in with yourself – maybe through meditation or a daily walk. Taking the time to note down your mood daily however gives you a place to look back, reflect and spot patterns.
Again, this may be a little obvious but worth noting. Because I spend a few minutes every morning and evening checking in with myself, I’ve built a habit. I’m now much more likely to recognise a mood shift during the day and question myself about it – do I know what’s caused it?
Becoming more mindful of your ‘triggers’ is also so helpful. Getting curious about my mood changes has helped me understand what affects me – lack of sleep, uncertainty, certain times in my cycle etc. It helps you be a little more understanding when a mood shift seems to come from ‘nowhere’.
Offers perspective and insight into moods
Tracking your mood and giving yourself space and time to explore it can help you understand it better. You can reflect on it, look at all the different elements contributing to it and gain some perspective.
When my mood is low it’s rarely one singular thing that’s caused it. It’s much more likely to be a culmination of lots of little things – death by a thousand papercuts as they say. Having the space to notice that feels helpful and gives me the insight I wouldn’t otherwise have.
Allows you to spot when things aren’t OK
This is an important one. While the scope of what’s ‘normal’ is infinite, tracking your mood over time will help you understand what’s ‘normal’ for YOU. This means when things start to look different, you can explore that.
You can think about why it may be or note that maybe it’s time to get professional support. Feeling down and struggling from time to time is something all of us experience, but it’s important to recognise when it’s not letting up and whether or not you need help from others.
I’m sure there are more benefits of mood tracking, but these are the ones coming to mind. For me, mood tracking and journaling is an anchor of my self-care routine. It’s the first thing I do when I wake up and it’s the last thing I do before I go to sleep. These two check-ins act like bookends to my day and something I couldn’t do without.
If your self-care routine is something you’re struggling with, take a look at my self-care strategy session offer and see if it could help you. We’ll jump on a call and talk through what you’re struggling with and make a plan that’s practical and sustainable.
Do you track your mood? Let me know in the comments.
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