Techniques to track your mood

Most of us can differentiate between a good and bad day, but let’s get real – the devil’s in the details. It’s not often we really stop to check in with our emotions, look for patterns, or think about how our mood could be impacting our choices… 

woman with eyes closed

And, honestly, it’s probably having a bigger effect than you realise. How we feel impacts the way we think, the decisions we make, and how we interact with others. That’s why mood tracking can be such a useful tool. When we take the time to really tune in to our feelings, we can have more of an awareness of what might be triggering certain emotions and reactions. 

This, in turn, allows us to have more control over our lives. When you’re more conscious of how you’re feeling, you can treat yourself with compassion. On days where you know you’re struggling, you can be more gentle, set firm boundaries, and plan in some self-care

Plus, if you’re intending to speak to a GP or professional about your mental health, having a mood tracker can be a useful point of reference when discussing your needs and support. And once you do start making any lifestyle changes, a tracker can be a useful gauge to see what is working best for you. 

So, want to get started? Here are three ways to track your mood to kick things off. 

1. Try the bullet journal mood tracker 

Rather than a wealth of writing, this is about concise information in an organised manner. It takes less time and effort than full journal writing, and helps to get a clearer overview of how you’ve been feeling. 

Simply set up a page in your notebook to look like a table, with the first column saved for the date. Then, choose headings for the rest of the columns that would be most useful to you. This could be anything from the number of hours you’ve slept, to whether you meditated that day, glasses of water consumed, or time spent online. Crucially, ensure you have a column for your emotions – you might want to write these out, draw an expression, or colour code. Also consider having a final column for notes, allowing you to reflect on the events that affected you the most. 

2. Colour code it 

This is great for visual people and allows you to get creative. Simply colour code different emotions – for example yellow could be for when you’re feeling inspired, green for energised, red for angry, pink for anxious. Alternatively, keep things really simple and stick to only a few emotions (such as happy, sad, irritated, apathetic). 

Then draw out an image with something to represent each day of the month – some great examples we’ve seen include a hot air balloon with a panel for each date, or vines with leaves trailing off.

Alternatively, keep things simple and do a ‘year in pixels’, where you have a table with months across the top and dates down the side. Fill in a colour for each day to best reflect how you’re feeling, and at the end of the month (or year) you’ve got a beautiful image representing those emotions. Plus, you could add some notes at the side if you want to remember any key moments associated with the primary emotion for that day. 

3. (Don’t) bottle it up 

One idea for a more physical representation of what you’re feeling is to get a clear container, and pick something with varying colour options to represent emotions – buttons, sand, marbles, or sweets. Each day, consider how you’re feeling, and add an item in the appropriate colour to your jar. 

At the end of the month, you’ll see when you’ve had a tough time and need to go easy on yourself, or when you’ve had a better month than you realised! Plus, if you struggle to open up to loved ones, this could show them how you’re getting on, so they know when you need a helping hand. 

Mood tracking apps 

If you’d prefer to keep things digital, there are many mood tracking apps to try: 

Daylio Journal – This is great for people who struggle with putting thoughts and feelings into words. Simply choose a video or image that best reflects how you’re feeling, with stats to reflect back on trends and patterns. 

eMoods – Designed to support those with bipolar disorder, this app asks users to rate their mood (highs and lows), irritability, and anxiety, on a four-point scale, along with noting if they’re experiencing any psychotic symptoms. 

Thinky: Mindful Journal – A private journal for your phone, this app gives you a chance to write out your feelings about each day, with helpful prompts, and uses a smart mood detection to help give a visual overview of your emotions. 

This article was originally published in Happiful Magazine (May 2021). You can order print copies online, or read the e-magazine for free on the Happiful app

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Written by Rebecca Thair
Rebecca is the editor of Happiful Magazine.
Written by Rebecca Thair
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