Tuesday, 12:45. Mood: weird.
September 23, 2008 10:45 AM   Subscribe

I’d like to track my moods for a few weeks. How should I go about this? What should I record, and how, and is it useful?

My mood tends to swing up and down a bit over the course of a typical day. Nothing drastic, but as an example I was feeling pretty upbeat and happy at 7 am today, and by 11:30 I was mad at everything. I tell people I feel “weird” a lot.

My mood swings aren’t extreme, nor do they impair me much, but I have found myself stopping and thinking “Why am I feeling like this right now? What’s going on? Is this normal?” I can usually answer the first two, but I have no idea whether this is normal. I’m hoping keeping track of how I’m feeling during the day for a while will help me figure this out.

I’ve looked around online and seen a few mood-tracking applications, but nothing that really jumped out at me. I could probably whip up a spreadsheet that would work well, and I’ve also been thinking about skipping the computer entirely and carrying around a notebook, since I’m not always near a computer.

Some of the things I’m considering keeping track of: brief description of mood, energy level, whether it feels “good” or “bad,” possible precipitating factors. I’m sure there are other things that would be good to track and I’m open to suggestions.

If you’ve done something like this, what did you use and what did you track? How frequently and for how long? Did it help you? Any advice is appreciated.
posted by Metroid Baby to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I'm doing something similar for my dog traning/rehab. I'm using Daytum... they're in a public beta thing at the time, and I have an invite I can send you if you'd like to mefimail me your email address.

My daytum page is here if you'd like to see what I'm tracking.
posted by SpecialK at 10:52 AM on September 23, 2008

I can't make any recommendations on methodology but I did do something like this a few months ago.

I kept up a txt file updated daily with "What am I stressed about today?" and level of stress because it seemed like every day I had some new seemingly life changing thing to worry about.

After a few weeks I would look back at past things, they all seemed laughable and some of them I couldn't even remember! It helped me thoroughly experience the impermanence of moods, emotions and feelings. When you're in a bad mood you think it will last forever even though all of your experience tells you that "this too shall pass". Keeping a journal of this was a good way to open my eyes to this truth.
posted by wolfkult at 10:55 AM on September 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

I think that the questionnaire for the Beck Depression Inventory might be just what you're looking for. (How accurate the BDI is for diagnosing depression is a separate issue, but for measuring what's changed since yesterday it's probably just right)

Your doctor could probably get you a copy. I think they're pretty keen on sending copyright takedown notices when people post it on the internet.
posted by winston at 11:09 AM on September 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Maybe this was assumed, but I find it helpful to monitor my food intake. Low blood sugar, caffeine sensitivity, whether I ate breakfast, if I drank the night before--all that info wound up indicating how I was going to feel throughout the day.
posted by zoomorphic at 11:12 AM on September 23, 2008

Second zoomorphic's comment on food, and I'd add exercise to the list. Medications (esp hormonal ones) might be a good idea too.

How you track depends on how often you want to write down data; if you're doing it every few hours or more often, you'll want to write down less each time. Maybe even set it up so you don't have to write a long description of your mood every time (just rate from 1-5 or make the description one-word simple).
posted by nat at 11:34 AM on September 23, 2008

I haven't used the mood tracker feature and can't say whether it's helpful, but the recently re-designed fitday does this. It's free and it also tracks food & exercise, and has a journal feature.
posted by rinosaur at 11:38 AM on September 23, 2008

I just started using lifemetric.com and it is pretty simple and easy to use.. even from a mobile, I imagine. Can't say how it will work over time, as I'm not there yet. They do let you choose from a large number of traits to follow (mood, creativity, sociability, energy, etc) and they graph it up for you.
posted by mbatch at 11:40 AM on September 23, 2008

I used the mini-BDI included in Dr. David Burns's Feeling Good to track my depression. It's just a snapshot but it does help you get a more objective sense than "I feel crappy about myself today".
posted by dhartung at 12:17 PM on September 23, 2008

Since those above mentioned both food and activity level, I thought I'd put this out there: I use Livestrong to track my diet, my mood and my exercise (there's a daily diary and my plate menu built in). It's free and it's easy.
posted by misha at 12:17 PM on September 23, 2008

There's something called a mood tracker - maybe this could help.
posted by watercarrier at 1:18 PM on September 23, 2008

I'm using Daytum... they're in a public beta thing at the time

Actually, they're in private beta and taking requests to test the software. It looks really cool, though.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:24 PM on September 23, 2008

I do this, but I do it on a daily basis, not an hourly one. I use a privately hosted blog, that only I have access to, and just start a post in the morning, and then update it later on that night. I write down whatever emotion(s) I'm feeling, and things I think might have caused them, and stuff like that. I like the blog aspect, because it means I can access it from anywhere and update it, no matter where I am. I've even tried adding a WAP interface, but I haven't gone very far down that route.

I sometimes track my food intake too, if I'm feeling tired, or whatever. Coffee intake, sugary foods, stuff like that.

I find it extremely useful. Using it, I've been able to identify a couple of triggers, and I've noticed that when I feel [this] one day, I often feel [that] the next day. Knowing this, I can take steps to deal with [this], so it doesn't develop into a full blown [that]. I also note the good moods I've had, and what the knock-on effect of them was too.
posted by Solomon at 2:53 PM on September 23, 2008

Google "mood chart", it is common for people with bipolar disorder to chart moods. Here is a good example. I recommend daily charting only at the same time every day. It is a royal pain in the ass to chart moods.
posted by crazycanuck at 8:57 PM on September 23, 2008

I like the products from KnockKnock that do this.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:19 PM on September 24, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks all! I didn't really find what I was looking for in the online mood trackers, so I cobbled together an Excel document that's somewhat similar to the KnockKnock pad, though with some changes.

Daytum looks pretty cool too, although the copious use of giant Arial Bold annoys me a bit.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:42 AM on September 29, 2008

« Older How can I get websense to undo a nonsensical "sex"...   |   LibraryOtherThing? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.