Tracking Your Mental Health Through Journaling
One way to have more *control* over your mental health is to keep note of it. When you put your thoughts + actions onto paper [or digitally], you can have a clearer look into things. One way to go about tracking our moods, emotions, + thoughts is through journaling. If you’re totally new to journaling, check out this article on journal planning for how to get started. For mood tracking in particular, this article provides great visual examples of some of the ideas mentioned below!
It’s perfectly normal to go through mood changes throughout the day. If you remember all of the things that affected your mood throughout the day, over the course of a few weeks or months of repeated mood-changes, you may be able to better understand your feelings + may even find triggers — a reminder of past trauma that can cause a person to feel overwhelming sadness, anxiety, or panic.
Since we can easily forget about how we felt day to day, a mood tracker can be an easy way to track + visually see how our moods are being affected. For major depression, a mood chart can also help your doctor or therapist better understand the duration + severity of your moods, + how quickly they switch, making it easier to diagnose + treat you.
Visually track your mood through drawings! Create any image or doodle you want from holiday themes [a gift, clover, heart…] or you can do plants, flowers, food — ANYTHING. To start your monthly mood tracker, just make an outline of your chosen object + split it up into how many days are in the month. Then, make a color code — you can be as simple as *good day* or *bad day* or you can get specific as you want — my go-to is excited [overly so], content or happy, *weird — angry*, *weird — sad*, upset — fill in each day with the corresponding color. At the end of the month, you’ll be able to see the different colors [+ in turn, moods] you’ve felt throughout the past weeks.
There’s basically an app for everything, even mood tracking. Since we’re always connected to our phones, a digitalized tracker can be a great way to track moods in the moments they’re happening. Some of the best apps for keeping track of mental health are Calm, Moodnotes, Talkspace + Mindshift. You can find out more info about these apps + more here.
Habit trackers can be a great way to make sure you’re completing tasks you’ve designated to be healing to you. The beauty is you can be as detailed as you want! This could look like a simple checklist, Some example sections can be common triggers such as:
- Physical tracking: Stomach aches, tightness of your throat, or nausea
- Mental tracking: Emotions such as increased happiness or sadness or particularly long episodes of an emotion
- Habits tracking: Taking medications, how many hours of sleep, time spent being active, time spent reading, or even servings of caffeine
If you want to get a feel for things before committing to an entire month of tracking, try a daily tracker. Not only can this help you ease into writing down your thoughts, it can help you to make a clean slate for each day by only focusing on one day at a time. Some other ways you can easily add in a daily tracker are:
- Making *done* lists instead of to-do lists. This way, you won’t feel bad about not finishing things + instead can feel accomplished for getting things DONE.
- If you’re artistically inclined, adding spaces for doodles. Even just having a few minutes to mindlessly draw can help you clear your head.
- Creating *rant boxes* for when you’re having a particularly rough day to let that ishh out!
- Making a daily gratitude spot with just ONE thing a day that made you happy or grateful. If that’s even too much at first, you can just have a continuous gratitude list for when inspiration strikes.
Some extra sections to add to your mental health tracking + journal can include:
- Therapy section: This section can include a summary, things to remember for your next session, or even as a notes spot to add things that happen throughout the month so you can bring it up next session.
- Self-care ideas: This should include YOUR self-care things. Don’t just put things down that are suggested, if bubble baths don’t calm you down — don’t do them! Listen to The CHAARG Podcast episode on finding your self-care routine for some inspo.
It’s common to forget about daily moods or actions, but being aware of these changes can be so beneficial in managing your mental health. Have you tried mood tracking or journaling? Let us know your favorite templates or prompts on insta!