Updated: Sep 19, 2021
Mood is a way of explaining our emotional state at any given time. If we say ‘I’m in a bad mood’, it’s a quick and easy way to explain a very complex emotional process. Mood is our personal emotional landscape at a snapshot in time. Our mood can affect the way we perceive situations, evaluate stimuli and react to situations. Our mood is very powerful, it can affect our judgement and, whether we are in a great mood or a terrible mood, either way this can interfere with our thinking and reasoning, altering our thought processes and consequently our reactions or behaviours. In extreme cases, mood can affect our personal safety.
In therapy, if a client is struggling with understanding their moods and what triggers their moods, we start to look at mood tracking. To do this, we can use some free, simple tools to track moods and triggers.
Learning to recognise and put names to emotions, feelings and moods can be challenging and this takes patience, time and lots of self-compassion. This can be a slow process to begin with until we develop our own emotional vocabulary or know how to express our feelings. It’s an important part of self-help and self-care. That’s because an inability to express strong feelings can lead to emotional difficulties, avoidance and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Journaling, in particular, is one of the most effective ways to discover our triggers, monitor their impact on our mood and monitor our responses. Journals can help us to express ourselves in our own words, doodles or emojis and can form an important part of processing our emotions. Journals or mood diaries can help us to develop self-reflection and improve our understanding of ourselves.
Mood journals have numerous benefits, especially in depressed and anxious individuals. Mood journals are helpful in a number of ways:
· helps develop a better understanding of what affects our moods (our personal triggers)
· develops an understanding of the impact the triggers have on us and our wellbeing
· learn to differentiate and put names to emotions and emotional states
· start to manage our emotional response to our triggers
· choose alternative responses
· manage our exposure to our triggers
· improve our mental health and wellbeing
A quick and easy way to monitor our emotions is to differentiate between positive and negative feelings and rate them on a scale, with 1 feeling very low and 10 feeling really good. We can then stop and check in with ourselves at different points throughout the day and rate how we feel. We can keep a note on our phone or alternatively there are dozens of great apps out there. As we get better at monitoring our moods, we can start to recognise mood changes as they happen, and we can start to reflect on what was happening at the time that resulted in a mood change. In this way, we can begin to recognise our triggers. Once we can start to recognise our triggers, we can develop different responses to our triggers, thereby gaining more control. Consequently, over time, mood diaries can help us change how we think, feel and respond. A quick and easy way to get started is to download our free mood dairy. By becoming more self-aware, we can understand and improve our moods and ultimately improve our mental health and wellbeing.