One of the steps in learning mindfulness is to “check in” with your moods (and your reactions to them and the thoughts that surround them) throughout the day. Homework in various counseling approaches include mood diaries, feelings charts, etc. because so many of us don’t take the time (or don’t know how) to name our feelings and identify how they affect our behaviors – which in turn affect our thoughts about ourselves and then our feelings. It’s a complicated cycle at first (because sometimes it’s the automatic thought that triggers the feelings that trigger the behavior, and sometimes it’s an external trigger that brings up a feeling in our body that makes us act a certain way that makes us think a certain way that makes us feel a certain way…..et cetera). But over time the cycle gets broken up into smaller parts that are much easier to deal with, and the best part is that when you adjust one part it causes the rest of the pattern to be interrupted and you can choose how to adjust them, too. Because it’s a cycle. You get it right?
So here is a great way to track your mood on your iPhone or other smartphone. My professor recommended it and I already love it:
On your phone you can just search for “t 2 mood tracker,” and it’s FREE. It doesn’t just ask how you feel, it asks you to rate different levels of anxiety, stress, tiredness, loneliness, etc. It charts these over time and you can add notes whenever you want, such as “I just got run over by a bicycle, not feeling so great” so that you can account for sudden or dramatic shifts in mood.
The best part? It reminds you to do it! In the settings you can ask it to check-in with you and at the allotted hour(s) it pops up on your screen with a “how are you feeling right now?” reminder.
So easy, so not intrusive, and so helpful.