Why keep a mood diary? Keeping track of your emotions and the thoughts that go along with them can be helpful in figuring yourself out. It can help you see a pattern of your thoughts and moods or can help to see if your feelings are related to an event or internal dialogue. Writing about you is an investment in yourself. It helps to focus and clarify your needs or desires and allows you to open up to yourself. Because it is for your eyes only, your diary is a safe place to express your thoughts and feelings without the fear of being exposed. When you notice that you are feeling sad, fearful, happy or angry it can be helpful to figure out “why.” This writing aids in connecting causes to effects and helps to reveal the inner process that goes on inside your head. It provides clues to how you think, learn, create and use intuition.
Your mood diary can be written in whatever format you want or think would work best for you. It doesn’t require complete sentences or correct grammar. You can use symbols, words or even pictures to express how you feel. Here are some examples you might find helpful:
Reflection. One way to write a mood diary is to list your mood and then work backwards to notice what event brought on that feeling and then what thought about the event contributed to the feeling. For example, I could notice that I am feeling sad, and I think that it is related to finding out that I got a lower grade on the biology test than I expected. Thinking about the event and the emotion, the thought that goes with the feeling is “I am not as smart as I thought I was.”
Timing. Another way to write a mood journal is to write down your mood at different intervals of the day, like every two hours and write you mood at that time and what you are doing and thinking. For example, 10:00 content, walking to class, thinking about the night before hanging out with friends; 12:00, irritated, in class, thinking about how hungry I am and that I wish I was out of class; 2:00, happy, talking with professor about project, thinking that I like this topic and that I enjoy learning about it; 4:00, frustrated, doing project and am stuck on a problem; and so on.
Questioning. Another way to write in you mood journal is to answer questions that can help elicit your feelings like:
1. How am I feeling both physically (where the emotion is located in my body) and emotionally?
2. Has anything happened to make me feel this way?
3. When I feel this way, what do I need?
4. When have I felt this way in the past?
5. When is the first time I remember feeling this way?
Imagery. Another way to express how you are feeling is to draw an image that symbolizes your mood in the moment. It can be a small symbol or an elaborate picture that takes up many pages. For example, I feel angry and could draw a dark, black cloud.
1. A different way to express your mood is to look at magazines and find scenes or images or phrases that express how you feel at the moment and cut them out. You could do this periodically throughout the week.
2. You could also combine all of these examples or select a couple that you want to experiment with on your own. You could also express and keep track of your mood in any other way that comes to mind.
The point of a mood diary is to learn about you. Whatever will help you to express yourself and see the connections between your thoughts and feelings is a powerful tool. This will create more results in your life by helping you identify relationships to events, your internal dialogue and your emotions. If you have any questions about your own mood diary or want to talk about thoughts or reactions to your mood diary, please feel free to contact your student counseling center to make an appointment.