We all have moods. Some days we’ll wake up and bounce out of bed with a spring in our step, ready to greet the day with a smile. Other days we just want to be left alone. And when we’re beset by difficult emotions we can often make ourselves feel worse by telling ourselves off for how we feel. Feeling bad about our feelings.
Of all the clever things Dr Marsha our Chief Science Officer has said to me, this is my favourite: “Our emotions are like guests, invite them in. They won’t stay long”. Resisting our feelings, and telling ourselves that we ought to feel another way, that we’re somehow now allowed to feel the way we do, does nothing to improve the situation. In order to process tricky emotions, we have to accept that they’re there, and allow ourselves to feel our way through them. Like Dr Marsha also always says: “You have to feel it to heal it”. One of the best ways of keeping on top of our moods is by paying attention to them, noticing them when they happen, and writing them down, by using a mood tracker or keeping a mood journal.
At Mindshine we are big advocates of mindfulness, which essentially simply means paying attention to what’s going on. Being aware. Living in the present moment. Noticing what’s happening, and this goes for emotions too. When we are prompted to put our feelings into words on a regular basis, we have to notice them, pay attention and try to run our feelings through the thinking part of our brains in order to find the right label for them. This automatically helps us to validate our emotions, and as any psychologist will tell you, validating our emotions is the absolutely essential first step in processing them healthily. Putting our emotions into words can also help us make sense of them. Perhaps you had a bust up with your partner and don’t know why, but looking for the right words for how you feel you might realise that you’re actually feeling resentful that they weren’t listening to something you wanted to say, or were belittling you. Whatever the issue, if you can put it into words, you’re one step closer to allowing yourself to feel the feelings, and in a better position to explain how you feel, and why you feel that way. In the end, this is going to work out a lot better than sitting on the feelings and then exploding over something seemingly trivial later on.
Taking time out every day to notice and note down your feelings allows us to make space in our lives for our feelings, and it becomes easier and more instinctive the more we do it. Like everything else in life, the more we practice, the better we get at it, so using your phone to remind you to track your mood every day, can be a great way to get started. Mindshine’s new mood tracker not only reminds you to track your moods, but records a range of data about how you’re feeling, along with the words and pictures you can add yourself, so you can look back and track your moods over time, getting a great idea of the bigger picture.
It’s not always entirely obvious why we feel the way we do, but by allowing you to select the big things going on in your life when you’re tracking your mood, a mood tracker allows you to build up a record of the possible triggers and reasons for your feelings. When you add the ability to write journal entries of your own, or add pictures to explain what’s happening, this record becomes an extremely useful tool to help you analyse what’s causing you to feel the way you do, and act accordingly. You may be able to make a few simple changes in what you consume, or in your work patterns, in who you spend time with, or how you sleep, which will have a significant effect on your happiness levels, but without keeping tabs on what’s happening when your mood dips, it’s hard to find the culprit.
Ultimately, tracking your mood and journaling about how you are feeling is a hugely important first step in understanding how you are feeling. Progress is not possible without self-awareness. You have to know where you’re at before you can start to make changes and chart a course for somewhere else. When you track your moods with the Mindshine app we’ll not only help you see how you’re feeling over time, and give you clues as to why that might be, but we’ll also point you in the direction of the right exercises from our extensive library which will help you get back to how you want to be feeling.
If you’re feeling happy, make the most of it. Gratitude exercises can enhance the joy, journaling and planning exercises can help you to notice where this spark is coming from, and plan changes which will bring it into your life more often.
If you’re feeling anxious - do you need support? We can point you towards mindfulness or breathing exercises which will help activate your parasympathetic nervous system and move you back to a place of calmness.
If you’re feeling Angry or sad, we can point you to our first aid exercises which will help you to process and feel through your emotions, and start feeling better more quickly.
If you’re feeling stuck in a certain emotional space and you can’t seem to get yourself out of the slump, we’ll suggest reaching out for someone to talk to, and maybe thinking about talking to a professional.
Tracking your mood is a great way to look after your mental health. It helps you validate and label your emotions, communicate better with others, notice and avoid triggers, and with Mindshine, use the right exercises and routines to keep you smiling.
So, what are you waiting for?! Track your first mood now.
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