Why I Started Tracking My Moods

Empower yourself, make positive changes, and improve your mental health
Cute smiles on boxes that is on the heads. Happy couple together in their new house. Conception of moving.

I’ve started to track my moods and it’s proving to be an empowering experiment. I’m a relatively self-aware person, but this exercise is fine-tuning that superpower.

By “tracking” I mean I’ve made a simple “mood tracker” in my planner. It’s a series of checkboxes with the days of the month on top and a list of emotions on the side.

But you can perk it up more than I have.

You can find a myriad of free, printable mood trackers online that use a mandala, flower pots, or stained glass shapes (just a few example) to make mood tracking more visual, colorful, and interesting.

Or, you might prefer to use a mood tracking app.

To keep it simple, I decided to use just the four main feeling groups:

  • Happiness
  • Sadness
  • Fear
  • Anger

Each of the main feelings in the four feeling groups has, of course, many different shades. Here’s a list of each feeling group and the multiple ways a core emotion can manifest.

Of course, if you decide to track your moods, you don’t have to stick to the four primary emotions. Use whatever emotional states make sense to you—ones you feel often or want to feel more often.

For example, you could include:

  • Anxious
  • Stressed
  • Depressed
  • Creative
  • Adventurous
  • Calm
  • Content

Simple or creative, the main point is to select a mood tracker that will work for you and might even give your heart a happy little thump.

Now, let’s look at some of the benefits you can derive from mood tracking.

The Benefits of Tracking Your Moods

These are some of the benefits I’ve gained from mood tracking. I’m sure there are more you will discover when you experiment for yourself.

1. More Self-Awareness

Some of us have numbed our feelings overall or just the emotions that were labeled “unacceptable.” Or, maybe you were told your feelings aren’t important so you set them aside. Or like me, maybe you were called too emotional so you try to hide the “excess.”

Tuning into your feelings on a regular basis can help you redevelop the capacity to know and feel your feelings.

And that’s important because when we numb difficult feelings, we numb the capacity for joy too.

You may even find it difficult to answer when you first ask yourself, “How do I feel?” It will likely get easier with practice.

But if it continues to be difficult, you might want to explore why that is through self-reflection or with a therapist. Take some time to look back on your childhood.

  • When did you first numb or hide your feelings?
  • Is this how you want to continue to live?

Even if you don’t numb your feelings out of self-protection, you may brush them aside to get on with your day and be more productive.

For example, I felt grumpy when I woke up this morning. Normally, I would just get out of bed and get going.

But this morning, I gave a little thought to that grumpiness because it’s not unusual for me to wake up in that state.

”What is grumpiness?”

When I thought about it, I realized it’s a form of anger. What was I mad about? On this particular morning, I felt mad (e.g. grumpy) about not getting enough sleep.

I could see how that grumpy feeling generalized to more things that frustrate me but that I feel powerless to change — like my cats waking me up in the middle of the night so I never get enough sleep.

That made me ponder, do I really want to feel grumpy about something I’m powerless to change?

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

2. More Self-Empowerment

According to psychology, emotions show us our needs. They’re like signs, signals, or messengers.

If we pay attention to the sign, it will most likely dissolve. If we don’t pay attention, the sign will return, creating more stress in our lives. Or, the emotions can pile up in our sub-conscious mind and lead to more subtle forms of distress.

What emotions tell us:

  • Mad can signify your boundaries have been violated, trust has been broken, or something needs to change.
  • Sad can show you’re hurting, you’ve lost something, or you’re longing for something you don’t have.
  • Scared can indicate you’re in danger, challenged, or confused.
  • Glad usually means life is good at the moment.

If you feel mad, you may need better boundaries. Realizing this you can set or reassert your boundaries. Or you can walk away from a situation that isn’t working for you, another form of boundary setting.

In my own case, I could go to bed earlier to ensure I get more sleep before the kitties start on their nightly shenanigans.

With sadness, one person may need empathy while another may need space. When you acknowledge you feel sad, you can reflect on what you need and ask for it.

When you pay attention and track your emotions, you’ll be able to see what triggers you the most as well. Then you’ll have a chance to explore the trigger and hopefully heal the original wound.

Feelings, even the difficult ones, can be helpers if we re-orient and see them that way. When you notice and feel your feelings, you can then ask yourself:

  1. What do I need?
  2. What can I do to fulfill that need?

This process can empower you so you no longer get stuck in bad emotional states as often. You can learn to lift yourself up and out, but you have to be self-aware and be able to recognize your emotional state first.

3. Improved Habits and Mental Health

Our habits can have a massive impact on our moods.

If you skip exercise days, miss your morning routine, or have a night of fitful sleep, it can affect both your energy levels and your state of mind.

You could track your habits right below your mood tracker to observe the correlations. You could stack two thirty-day checkbox trackers on top of one another, one for moods and one for your positive habits like exercise, social connection, or journaling.

For example, if you feel funky, you can look at your habits and see if you missed your exercise, didn’t journal, or had a bad night’s sleep. Just list whatever activities or habits make you feel inspired and energized.

Getting a visual on the correlation between habits and mood can be a great reminder to keep your positive habits going.

Free printable and image by Jennie at the Housewife Modern

Closing Thoughts

Tracking your moods can be a powerful tool for learning to shift out of the bad ones and amplify the good ones.

While multiple benefits can be gained from mood tracking, these three stand out for me:

  1. Increased awareness of my feelings and moods
  2. A greater ability to address my needs and shift out of less desirable moods
  3. A chance to see how my habits affects my moods and refocus on the habits that make me feel positive and energized.

Habit tracking takes a little extra time. But you’re worth it, aren’t you?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *