Whether you’re a Silk + Sonder member or have your own bujo method, you’re likely familiar with some version of a mood tracker. While mood trackers can be a fun, out-of-the-box way to get better acquainted with yourself and the sometimes unlikely factors that may be impacting your emotions, at their core mood trackers are rooted in the field of positive psychology. This much-studied method aims to improve mental health by paying closer attention to your moods by identifying and naming them, and then figuring out if there are any patterns around them.
While this is an easy idea to get on board with, it can be more difficult to actually put into practice. Whether you’re looking for mood tracker ideas, trying to figure out how to incorporate them into your bullet journal or simply want to better understand what a mood tracker is and how it works, we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know.
Why tracking your moods is so important
So you have a bullet journal, and maybe it’s a more structured one that comes with an amazing mood tracker. Or perhaps you’re building one yourself within your self-designed bujo. Regardless, it can help to fully understand exactly why mood tracking is so important in the first place before you fully commit to the practice. After all, if you’re schooled in the science of habit formation, you likely know just how important it is to have a “why.”
Therapist Sarah McLaughlin, LMFT, breaks down the role moods can play in our life like this: “Many therapists like to use the metaphor ‘you’re not the clouds, you’re the sky’ to illustrate to clients that moods can come and go—like weather—and that we don’t necessarily need to attach to them, over-identify with them or become reactive to them. Once we understand this, it can be extremely freeing, but that understanding can’t come without mindfulness.”
Where is the mindfulness aspect, you ask? It’s in the mood tracking. “You are paying attention, in the present moment to your mood in order to name it,” explains McLaughlin. “‘oh look, disappointment’ or, ‘oh look, fear.’ Not only does this allow you to name the feeling, but it creates some space between you and the emotion.”
Once you’re able to hold that emotion at arm’s length, you’ll have more control over your reaction to it. “You can choose how to resource yourself in that moment (maybe call a good friend), or if you even need to,” explains McLaughlin. “The tracking creates a mindful experience that allows you to tap into calm and wisdom before proceeding, judging or attaching to what you feel.”
How mood tracking changes our relationship with moods
If you’ve done a lot of journaling in your life, you’ve likely already done some version of mood tracking. Putting these thoughts and feelings into an official mood tracker is simply a more organized way to go about it.
“Practicing mood tracking regularly can give a person a better sense of their weather patterns,” explains McLaughlin. “You may see a pattern of moods—do they correlate with time of day, what you did, who you were around, what you were thinking?”
Mood tracking allows you to be a detective, and gain a better understanding of why certain moods may pop up. “Mood tracking helps you objectively gather information (without judgment!), so that you can decide what is in your power to change and what would be most helpful to change.”
With thorough, consistent mood tracking, you won’t just observe negative patterns—you’ll observe positive ones, too. For example, if you tend to feel a sense of calm in the morning that’s followed by increased anxiety throughout the day, you might ask yourself what’s causing that morning calm. Is it tech-free time, a journaling session, or a morning meditation? Once you pinpoint what the patterns are around that sense of calm, you can more easily weave those practices into the rest of your day. The hope is that once you’ve been tracking your moods for a while — and what “a while” means varies from individual to individual—you’ll likely see an improvement in your mental health.
Let’s talk about habit trackers
If you’re into the bujo scene, you’ve likely heard of habit trackers as well, and you may have even used one. Habit trackers work hand-in-hand with mood trackers in the sense that once you’ve identified the patterns around a negative or positive mood, you can start working toward creating a habit that lessens or boosts that mood. For example, after a month of mood tracking, you may find that you tend to feel anxious when you eat sugar. Now you’ve identified a habit you need to get into: Eating less sugar.
From there, you’d come up with a plan for eating less sugar. It doesn’t have to involve cutting out sugar entirely, but maybe you decide to exclusively eat dark chocolate, or some other lower sugar dessert. Next, you’d use your habit tracker to record how many days you only eat dark chocolate in the hopes of eventually turning this practice into a habit. You would probably also be tracking your anxiety during this time to see if a lower sugar diet truly does correlate with lower levels of anxiety for you. If it doesn’t, you can reevaluate.
Mood tracker ideas
There are a ton of smart, cute mood tracker ideas out there, some of which are printable and others of which you can create yourself within your bujo. When it comes to getting creative with your mood tracker, the sky’s the limit. You can use colors, create your own illustrations, draw your own emojis, use rubber stamps, stickers, doodles, colors, lines, and more.
You also shouldn’t feel limited in the moods you track, or the ways you describe those moods. Words like “happy” or “sad” can apply sometimes, but “calm,” “zen,” “energized,” “anxious” “self-critical” and more can apply, too. You can even dive into metaphors with your bullet journal mood tracker — some Silk + Sonder members will use weather or even Disney characters as a way of describing moods.
Whatever your mood tracker setup looks like, the most important thing is that it works for you. From cute ideas to edgy or off-the-wall ones, you can’t go wrong as long as you’re keeping it creative and staying true to yourself.
A step-by-step guide to kicking off your mood tracking journey
Now that you know that you can get as creative as you want with mood tracker setup, it’s time to crack open a fresh journal page and get started. You can spend a day noticing what moods come up for you and naming them. Again, don’t feel limited by the stereotypical names we give to moods, like “happy,” “sad” etc. However you want to name your mood, go for it.
Next, start tracking those moods. If you’re a Silk + Sonder member you’ll have a full month of slots for tracking, but if you’re doing it the DIY way you can create those slots for yourself. After a month or two of tracking your daily moods, patterns will no doubt emerge: Do specific times of the month yield certain moods, i.e. your monthly cycle, or a week at work that’s predictably stressful every month? Or are your moods more correlated with weather, sleep, or what you’re eating? Hey, maybe it’s all of the above — that’s fine too.
Once you combine your mood tracker with regular journaling, you’ll be well on your way to cultivating a better relationship with your moods. While moods may come and go, along with good and bad days, they can tell us a lot about what we need. So go ahead and embrace that.
Have you tried mood tracking? Let us know in the comments. And while you're at it, make sure to subscribe to Silk + Sonder today.