What is mood charting?
Mood charting is the practice of keeping a record of your mood on the same template every month, in order to be able to compare how your moods change.
Why is it useful?
Mood charts are used as a tool to help people with bipolar disorder identify symptom-free intervals in their lives and also find what triggers manic/depressive episodes. It is however useful for anyone else who feel that they could take greater control over their feelings or understand what triggers certain emotions. For people with depression a mood chart can help them identify the little things that make them feel hopeful or in control. For people with eating disorders or self harm issues it can be helpful to identify which events trigger an over-eating/ purging episode or a self-harm episode. It can even be used to chart how many days before your period you start getting crazy. So it is useful for anyone who is not constantly happy, really.
How should I use it?
It is pretty straight-forward. Every day you have to put a dot (or triangle or any symbol of your choice really) on the intersection of the date and the number that indicates how you are feeling. Then, on the second template, you can write down why you are particularly happy or angry/sad/disappointed/lonely/etc this specific day. Some times it is easier to even write down a few keywords on the chart itself, like “Passed the test” or “Sick” and a more detailed description on the Notes template. The reason that I have included the vivid dreams counting is because some people (me included) see particularly vivid dreams that can affect their mood for a great part of the day. Additionally, if you pay some attention to your dreams, you can find out what are the issues that most trouble you during the day.
All my days are bellow 3. What can I do?
If all your days you are feeling from sad to awfully desperate, I would advise you to seek counseling, as this might be a sign of depression. Of course if you have just suffered a loss, like the death of a loved one, a break up or losing your job, you might be going through a natural grief period. But if this continues for more than a couple of months, ask for support. If, on the other hand, you have less than half the days of your month bellow 3, then you are probably just one of us, the Average People.
How can it help me improve my life?
Writing down your feelings helps you become more conscious of them. Some people -usually men- tend to suppress their feelings so much, that they forget they are feeling them. Mood charting can help you to start observing your self and pin point the things that make you happy and the things that are toxic and need to be removed from your life. If, for example, you see that most of your unhappy notes are about the way that your partner is treating you, well, maybe the time has come for a looong discussion and even a change of partner. If you see that your notes are related with work, you can then make a plan on how you can improve your work life. In other words, mood charting is not about self-indulging into misery. It is just a first step towards identifying the factors that compromise your happiness and taking further steps to remove them from your life.
Have you done mood charting yourself?
I did, when I was 19. Lots of ups and downs. The notes should probably just be post-teenage hormones. Kidding. Even then, in this messy-sexy emotional situation and while I was still trying to figure out who I really am, charting how I felt did help me to find out who and what was causing all the drama. I will start doing it again is September and I promise to share my chart (not my notes, though, too personal) with you.
How can I print the non-hip hippie templates? And why are they so boring?
They are boring because they are meant to be a canvas for your mood. Use as many colors as you like, while charting. A whole family could even use the same chart and a different color. This way, if you see that your 5-year old is unhappy and your 7-year old is extremely happy on the same days, someone is being bullied. As for printing, black and white A4 will do. All you need is a standard printer.
Let me know how it went for you!