Journaling and Tracking Your Mood

I have written a lot lately about my experiences which have helped my memoir take shape over the last month. Today I want to focus on something different that has helped me over the last year. Journaling my daily thoughts and tracking my mood every day.

Journaling my thoughts is a straightforward idea, you write everything that is bothering you, what is good, and where you want to go that day or night. I prefer to journal in the morning, but I would say find a time that works best for you. I have met people that say they journal the end of their day to better understand their thoughts. For me, I prefer to journal in the morning because I can focus my thoughts to better get my day going. It could be five minutes or an hour of journaling. It really is up to you.

The reason that I say journal your thoughts is that this could open up different avenues. Maybe you have a looming essay due that week and you want to know where your thoughts are on the project. Today I used my journal to figure out where I wanted to start my day writing (I decided to dedicate today to only focusing on my writing) and out of that came the idea to write this blog post. It also gave me a map on which chapters in my memoir I wanted to take focus.

I always free-write my journals, with no structure. I handwrite most of my journals, but again find what works for you. I chose the method of handwriting my journals because of my writing, including blogging, happens on my computer. It is nice to get away from the computer for me. I just write my thoughts and I care little about grammar or if I am writing the right way. Just let the ideas flow. It’s a great way to figure out where you are in life.

The second part of this is tracking your current mood. I have used a simple 1-10 scale to track my depression and anxiety. For me, my depression and anxiety are good in the 3-5 range. I can usually function when my levels are in that range. Today I tracked my depression at an eight, due to the fact that this has been a tough week with my depression. I lost almost all of yesterday to depression because my level was a nine. I tracked my anxiety today at a six.

It helps to also chart your progress of your week overall. There are other ways to track as well. In my CBT program, I track both depression and anxiety weekly based on answering questions and assigning a number to each question 1-4. The higher the total after the questionnaire. The one for anxiety is called “Overall Anxiety Severity and Impairment Scale” or (OASIS). The one that I use for depression is called “Overall Depression Severity and Impairment Scale” or (ODSIS). Both are easy to look up and really helpful in tracking the growth of depression and anxiety every week.

I would recommend all of these methods when it comes to tracking thoughts and moods. If you write down your thoughts it gives you the ability to look back on the week and seek changes in the days that follow. Always be honest because journaling is there to help you. Tracking your mood helps you figure out where you are at in the present day and even over the last week.

These are things that have helped me, are there things that have helped you when it comes to tracking your thoughts and moods?

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: Ian Schneider


31 Replies to “Journaling and Tracking Your Mood”

  1. You’re inspiring. Trying hard to make myself do some of these things. WordPress and forcing myself to blog and read and comment on blogs and read and read some more. I have spent many years in a comfortable hideaway cave. I am still there. Just trying to force myself to peak out. I appreciate your blogs man. Like I said before, you’re brave for getting this all out in words.

    1. Thank you. I would recommend just a day at a time. It’s cliche but that is how I got to the point where I could write here in my blog. Thank you for reading as always.

  2. I also find it helpful to ask my partner what her observations of my moods have been. This is usually weekly, give or take and is really helpful. It gives me an outside perspective as sometimes I have no idea I’m projecting a certain mood or behaviors, especially toward her. This strategy of course requires that you have a significant other and that you trust their observations.

    1. I like this idea but for me I struggle to let other people inside my mind especially significant others. At the moment I don’t have one but this is a really good idea. Maybe after I finish my memoir I can find someone to share my world with. Thank you sharing your own experience!

      1. You’re welcome! Yeah if you ever find someone you’re that comfortable with, it’s an eye opening experience. I wouldn’t know half of what I know about myself if she hadn’t seen it first.

  3. I’ve written a journal for a long time now. I think one day I would like to write a memoir as well. I’ve been keeping records over the last 11 years in various diaries. I don’t use a scale to measure my mood or anxiety but I do find it useful to look back and see how my mood has changed over the past weeks, months, and years. I have a very similar process to the one you have described above. I also find drawing really therapeutic as well.

  4. I read a book called “The Artist’s Way” and have been journaling ever since. The author recommended three pages per day, first thing in the morning. I’ve done that for three years and I’ve found it a great brain dump to get the little stressors out from the back of my mind, plus helps me to be more productive with my writing day.

    1. I have also found it useful in being more productive in my day. With my thoughts on paper, I can refocus my mind and channel it in better writing. Thank you for sharing!

  5. I have a tracking sheet/chart that I log my mood on every night. I show it to my therapist and my case manager. I also keep a little one sentence log on the back for each day of what I did that day in case one day was notable for some reason.

    1. It can be effective. It was my own therapist/case manager that started me on the tracking of my mood. It helps me be better prepared for my day. When I depression is high I can get small things done and then just relax the rest of my day.

      1. I’ve never been good at assessing my mood/anxiety/irritability in the morning. I am always better in the morning than I am later in the day so I tend to chart at the end of the day. Also, as I said, I keep a record of my daily activities to correspond with the checked mood so it just works out better for me in the evening.

        I’m glad you have a system that works for you though.

  6. I have been tracking my moods in a journal for the last 15 years. It really helps to see what may trigger something, or if it is a certain season of the year (or time change). It’s an exercise I find extremely beneficial when I need to figure out where my head is going and how to try and get out of the “ruts” this disease can cause. Thank you for this post.

  7. I, too, journal my thoughts. I’ve never thought about tracking my moods though. I think I may start doing that using the 1-10 scale. Thanks for the idea!

  8. I haven’t journaled for a long time, but it did it semi-regularly while I was going through CBT quite a few years ago (around the time I got my official diagnosis of depression and anxiety). I forgot how helpful it was because knowing that I was able to manage my depression and stress okay on, at least, a few days helped it from becoming overwhelming. Maybe it’s something I should start again.

    1. Argh! Morning brain, also, thank you for sharing!!! Learning about your experiences in CBT is reminding me to use what I learned, and that’s insanely helpful for me. Thank you, thank you! Hope your rating goes down soon. Sending good thoughts!!!

    2. It’s been need this week as my depression has increased. It’s been a rough start to the week. I had a day yesterday with only half as productive then I would have liked. Today was a bit better but I am starting to crash more than I wanted to. I might take the rest of the afternoon and night off.

      1. It’s a good idea to give yourself time to rest when you need to as well. I find that pushing myself to write when I’m having a bad day in terms of my depression and anxiety ends up being counterproductive because I burn out for the next few days. Taking care of yourself is important.

  9. Good Evening, I so agree with the journaling and rating your anxiety levels. I tend to do that myself in order to keep track of my highs & lows for when I need to speak to my therapist/psychiatrist.
    I am terribly sorry that your level is above your average 3-5, I too am at level 6-7 for depression.
    I hope you begin to feel better real soon.
    Excellent post!

  10. I love journaling at the end of my day to help clear my head and think over everything that happened, for better for for worst. It helps me reflect over my day and quiets my obnoxiously loud mind before I sleep- in fact, I can rarely sleep well without that form of release! I’m glad that there are other people out there who do this. 🙂

  11. I also find journaling to be very therapeutic. i don’t force myself to write everyday, just when I really need to when life gets overwhelming in order to reclaim my thoughts. I also find coloring colour books, which in my opinion is a form of meditation, therapeutic. Of course there is cooking and yoga, anything to distract me from negative energy.

    1. You know I think people have mentioned coloring books. It makes makes sense. I loved them as a kid. I really have to try that, I can do coloring my my nieces. I think they would like that, thanks for sharing your experience and what helps you.

  12. Reblogged this on Journey back to Normal and commented:
    This for sure goes well with my latest post on Anger. Journaling 100% helps deal with the feelings, and when I use a chart, gives my therapist some more information to go on when I see her. I also find when I write enough, I can write myself out of my hole of anger

    1. I have written myself out of anger before too. It is better to write than to transfer that anger onto someone you love. Thank you for sharing this with me.

  13. That’s a great phrase you use – that journalling opens up avenues. I’m a journaller too (written as well as the doodly one :)). I find delaying decisions helps, and comparing decision changes as way of comparing thought patterns. Anxiety can make decision-making extreme!

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