How are you feeling today? How were you feeling yesterday? What about last week or last month?
This question seems simple, but it’s not always easy to find the answer. We often get so caught up in our routines and to-do lists that we don’t check in with our moods. Left unchecked, this can take us down a road toward anxiety and depression symptoms. The past year has been hard for everyone. It’s not surprising that many people are feeling less hopeful and more depressed than normal. How are you feeling?
In order to take control over your mood, you must first track it. Check in with yourself. How are you feeling, and how do you want to be feeling? This video will provide all of the information you need to get started with a mood tracker: how to create a habit, charts that you can use to track your mood on paper, and digital resources that many people are using to check in with themselves.
Why It’s Important to Track Your Mood
Our moods may fluctuate for many reasons: energy, stress levels, our diets, sleep habits, or the media that we choose to consume day in and day out. What we choose to focus our minds on can affect our mood and how we see the world. Sometimes, the cause and effects related to our mood are obvious. Other times, they aren’t.
Mood trackers allow you to see patterns over time related to your mood and other habits. Simple mood trackers may just give you a sense of where you are and whether it is time to reach out to a mental health professional or take other steps. The best mood trackers are ones that show your mood as it fluctuates and changes throughout the day, week, or month.
How to Create a Daily Habit
Whether you are using an app, a website, or an old-fashioned notebook, mood trackers will only work when you are constantly checking in with yourself. This requires building a habit surrounding your mood tracker. Good habits aren’t easy to build, so use these tips to help you get started:
Find Your Anchor
Stanford researcher BJ Fogg, author of Tiny Habits, recommends finding an “anchor” that you can use to help you develop a new habit. We all have a routine throughout the day, whether it’s brushing our teeth immediately after getting out of bed, making a morning cup of coffee, or sitting down to watch a TV show at 6pm. What can you use as your “anchor” to whip out your mood tracker and ensure that you are engaging with this new habit? For example, if you always make a pot of coffee in the morning, keep your journal or a post-it note with the words “mood tracker” nearby. As the water is boiling, check in with your mood. You’ll never miss a day!
As humans, we seek pleasure and rewards while shying away from pain and punishment. What does this mean for your mood tracking habit? It should come with a reward! Give yourself an incentive for filling out your mood tracker each day, week, or month. Set goals for yourself and enjoy that feeling of accomplishment when you do complete this habit.
Allow Yourself to Forget Every Now and Again
The point of this exercise is to understand your mood and set yourself up for happier, more satisfied days. Do not let this exercise add extra stress onto your days. If you skip a day or don’t check in regularly, do not get upset. Simply experiment with different “anchors” or reminders that will encourage you to check in with yourself. Maybe you are not checking in with your mood because you have given yourself too many “tasks” to record on your chart. In that case, simply set a goal to write down the date and one word describing your mood. As you will see, there are so many ways to approach this practice. Do what works for you!
Mood Tracker Chart
Throughout this video, I will be sharing tips and recommendations for mood-tracking apps and websites, but you can also practice tracking your mood with classic pen and paper. Writing in a journal, regardless of whether you are focused on your mood, is already an effective way to process and work through your feelings. Studies show that putting pen to paper activates a different part of the brain than simply sitting and stewing in your feelings. Tracking your mood on paper gives your mind the opportunity to work through your emotions and potentially change your mood.
How do you track your mood on paper? There is no one right answer for everyone. Try a few different approaches to see what “sticks” and what allows you to see and understand how your emotions correlate with your diet, schedule, or daily activities:
Start out by separating the page of your journal into a few columns. The names of these columns are up to you and what you want to learn about your mood, health, or daily habits. Columns could include:
- Date and time
- Daily activities
- Diet, vitamins, or supplements
- Previous night’s sleep or dreams
- Energy level
- Physical activity
- Yoga, meditation, or mindfulness practice
At the end of the day, simply write some notes about what you are experiencing. Over time, you may start to see specific patterns and your chart may reveal answers about how your lifestyle affects your mood (or vice versa.)
Another way to approach this type of mood tracker is just to make bullet points every day about your mood, activities, or other information that you think contributes to how you are feeling. This takes some of the pressure off of you as you track your mood. If you only want to include the date and your mood, that’s okay. If you have more to include, that’s okay, too. Nothing is left “blank” when you’re just writing down bullet points.
Visual learners may get more out of this approach, inspired by the “mood rings” of the 1970s. Separate your page into various columns representing different parts of your day. Each row represents one day. As you go about each day, color the cross-sections in based on your mood. You can get creative with what colors you choose, but many people take their inspiration from the colors associated with mood rings:
- Black = stressed
- Brown = afraid
- Purple = content
- Blue = neutral
- Green = romantic
- Yellow = nervous
- Orange = annoyed
- Red = angry
As you start to add more colors, you will get a visual representation of your mood and the trends that follow you throughout the day.
Mood Tracker Apps
All you have to do is search “mood tracker” in the app store to find a long list of apps for tracking your mood and making notes on how you feel throughout the day. Some of the most popular ones include Moodily, Breeze, and Daylio. While some mood tracking apps are free, many come with a monthly subscription. I’ve also included three personal recommendations, based on unique features that give you more than just a simple mood tracking app.
Tangerine allows you to track your mood and your habits. Set goals, track your mood, and read data based on what you have added to the app. Guided journals also allow you to dig deeper and really understand why you are feeling the way that you are. At the end of the week or month, you will have a much better idea at how you are doing and the trends that you can follow to improve your habits and mood.
Calm is primarily known as a meditation app, but that’s exactly why it’s perfect for tracking your mood. Meditation and mindfulness are wonderful practices for sitting with yourself, understanding your feelings, and separating yourself from negative thoughts. Simply adjust the settings on the Calm app: head to the bottom of the screen, hit “more,” then “settings,” then “check-in reminders” to adjust how the app asks about your mood.
Apps may also allow you to track your mood and share your feelings with family and friends. The Porchlight app was created as a way for families to check in with each other, even if they are living far apart. Daily prompts ask you to evaluate your mood, answer some questions, and even send a message to the people you love most. If you notice that a family member or friend is feeling stressed, Porchlight also offers prompts for starting a conversation and building connection between all.
Mood Tracker Websites
If you want to spend less time on your phone but don’t want to physically write out your mood every day, you can hop online and use a mood tracker website. Like the App Store, you can search for “mood tracking websites” online and get many results. Here are some of my favorites that you can use to explore your mood:
I hope you've enjoyed this article on mood trackers and how to effectively log your mood and feelings. Feel free to leave a comment below with any questions you have or any mood trackers I may have missed!