Image: Mood/Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Mood journalling and its impact on mental health

Global interest in mental health awareness has risen exponentially in recent years. As a result, it has become increasingly common for people to track their mood and emotions on a frequent basis to be aware of their changing mental health habits. 

Tracking how you’ve been feeling is a good way to identify any issues in your day to day life which may be negatively impacting on your mood. It comes as no surprise that there are now multiple apps which allow you to do this at the convenience of your phone. I have kept a diary for many years but have recently tried out some mood tracking apps in the hope of comparing how well these methods work.  

The key thing is to not be too hard on yourself if you haven’t written in a while

I started keeping a journal from around the age of 12 but I have struggled to be consistent over the years. During some points in my life, I would dedicate time in my day to reflect on how I felt. These days it is much less frequent, and I tend to write only when I really want to. 

Writing in a diary is a good way to reflect on how you are feeling because you can write as much or as little as you want, as often as you would like and as detailed as it needs to be. All this freedom can make it really hard to keep on top of writing, especially at busy times. I have found myself not writing down anything for a few months and when I finally did, it was very hard to remember all the emotions and experiences I have had in that time. The key thing is to not be too hard on yourself if you haven’t written in a while.

To try out new methods of mood tracking, I downloaded three apps called Reflectly, Moodflow and Daylio and have been using them for the last few weeks. 

It was no longer fun to reflect on my mood

When I first got them, it was very exciting as they had many different features, although most of them were only available on the premium versions of the app which you had to pay for. I found that all the apps were pretty easy to use so it was quite simple to record how you are feeling. Also, there was quite a lot of choice regarding how much you want to write and how much detail to go into. 

Most apps have an option to set a reminder for a certain time each day to remind you to input a reflection for the day. For the first few days, I found this extremely helpful as it was a quick and easy way to note down my feelings and emotions. However, after about a week, it became more like a chore. This is largely due to the fact that during self-isolation my days were getting more monotonous and so it was no longer fun to reflect on my mood. Had this been at a different time, I may have enjoyed the process a lot more.

Most of the apps I used were quite pricey, for students especially

Perhaps this is just a personal feeling and others would really benefit from daily reflections in an app but I felt less motivated as each day went by to report back on my not so great days. The fact that I didn’t purchase the premium memberships may have also contributed to my bad experience of the apps as I didn’t get to experience all the features. Most of the apps I used were quite pricey, for students especially. 

When deciding whether you want to keep a physical journal to track your thoughts or whether you would prefer a digital app – it largely comes down to personal preference. I will most likely stick to a journal as to me it feels like less of a commitment that I must do daily. Regardless, I have seen some of the benefits of keeping this journal and tracking my emotions. The difficult part is keeping up with it every day. 

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