Do you find your emotions taking control of your life? Are you struggling to get to the root of what’s making you miserable? Mood journaling might just be the answer.
Journaling for mental health has grown in popularity in recent years. Why? Because it can help you identify emotional triggers, take control of your moods and improve your overall wellbeing. Some studies have also shown it can help manage anxiety and depression.
I encourage my nutrition and training clients to keep a daily mood diary and do it with my kids, too. Perfect for children and adults alike, mood journaling is something I recommend for everyone.
Here are 6 benefits of mood tracking and how to do it.
1. Helps you identify triggers
As we go through each day and week, different things happen that can affect our moods. By capturing what makes you feel good or bad on the day it happens, you can see how deeply it actually affected you.
Whether it’s a disagreement with your partner, ongoing conflict at work, a toxic friend, deadline pressure, the never-ending pile of housework or money worries – all of these things impact how we feel. Noting them down can help you determine the day-to-day effects they’re having on you.
Some people have multiple triggers, whereas others have one or two. One bad trigger such as a job you hate or a toxic relationship can make you feel sad everyday, which can seriously impact your mental health.
2. Allows you to spot patterns
When you track your moods regularly, you can start connecting the dots and may even see underlying issues that you weren’t aware of before. Usually, you can connect moods and feelings to certain events or people.
More often than not, you can easily match moods and feelings to certain events or people. Are there days of the week when your mood noticeably dips or peaks? For example, is your mood score a 10/10 when payday comes around, or do you feel anxious about looming deadlines or meetings? When you keep a daily mood journal, you can spot alarm bells and pinpoint what you need to change in your life.
It’s not all about the bad, though! Mood journaling can help you see when you’re at your best so you can create more good days and reduce the bad.
3. Rules out hormonal links
Hormones play a role in our moods and emotions more than we realise. Even if you’re post-menopoause, taking birth control or a man, you’re not exempt from these hormonal ups and downs.
When you regularly write down your moods, you can determine whether you’re affected by situational events or if mood changes are mostly down to hormones. If you become agitated, irritable or depressed at certain times of your cycle, you’ll be able to spot if there’s a trend. When men drink alcohol, this affects your mood too – make sure you journal these details!
4. Highlights the link between moods, diet and training
Yet another benefit of mood journaling is that it enables you to see if there’s a link between your emotions and your diet or training. Do you skip training and eat crap when your mood is low? Do training hard and eating healthily make you feel great?
Capturing this information everyday can really help you pinpoint what’s going wrong with your fitness and nutrition and why so you can prevent it from happening. It will also allow you to reflect on why you skip training or reach for junk foods.
5. Provides information you can take to your doctor
When you track your moods over a month, you might realise that you felt low for more than half of those days. If you feel overwhelmingly sad most days and capture when and why, this is valuable information you can give to your GP if needed.
Also, if you know there’s a hormonal link, your mood diary enables your GP pinpoint the times in your cycle that are problematic for you. This can help them decide the right course of action for you.
6. Helps you take action
You can’t take steps to fix what’s causing you stress, anxiety or upset if you don’t fully understand the sources in the first place. When you’ve been tracking your moods daily for a while, you can gain a clear picture of what the biggest problems are. This can empower you to make a plan of action and prioritise what you need to do.
Whether it’s ending a toxic relationship, leaving a stressful job or making an appointment with your doctor, the path will become clearer when you’ve got enough data to inform your decision.
How to Track Your Moods
How do you go about keeping a mood diary? It can be as simple or in-depth as you want it to be. There are several methods, so choose your preference and try a few if needed:
- Apps (you may have to pay for some of them)
- Notepad or diary
- Notes app in your phone
- Verbally with your family
Each day, record your mood score from 0 – 10. A score of 0 means you’re at your lowest, while 10 means you couldn’t be happier.
Note down what you’ve enjoyed about the day, as well as anything that has brought your mood down. Whether you want to do it at the start or the end of the day (or both) is entirely up to you. Capture any information you think will be useful, such as whether you trained and ate well that day or whether a certain person or event triggered a negative emotion.