Mood journaling focuses on identifying, processing, and creating action around your emotions.
Happy, sad, anger, desire-–or if you like me, a cocktail of all the emotions possible, felt all at once.
THREE BENEFITS OF MOOD JOURNALING
1. Identify what you are feeling
Not always knowing what exactly it is that you're feeling, is not only confusing and frustrating, it means you're more likely to be at the mercy of your emotions.
Mood journaling gives me the space, safety, and freedom to explore my negative emotions privately so I can identify and have more control over how I respond to them.
2. Gives space to process your feelings
"The simple act of writing things down can help you work through many emotional challenges that may be holding you back. Journaling can be a great tool for your emotional health, particularly if you incorporate it into your daily routine, "says Neidich.
3. Creates a plan for what to do your feelings
Writing down our thoughts on paper helps us navigate the complexity of our emotions, identify the root causes––and therefore solutions––more clearly.
HOW TO MOOD JOURNAL
My personal journaling style is a mixture of free-flowing and structured. Like my picture above showed, sometimes I’ll just list out all the things I’m feeling. Then, I often pick one emotion and start writing ‘stream-of-conscious’ for a while. Remembering that mood journaling ultimately is about action, I’ll then respond to these guided questions using a rubric based on this Healthline article to give more structure. You can download these questions here or at the bottom of the article.
1. What’s the name of the emotion? If you can’t identify it yet, that’s okay, just skip and come back to it later.
As I mentioned, I’ve struggled with identifying my emotions in the past. If you need some help labeling more nuanced feelings download this Emotions reference sheet to help you identify what you're feeling.
2. Describe the events that caused this emotion?
We never advertise that journaling is easy; anybody who has taken it seriously knows it’s hard work. This question requires that we pause for some intentional self-reflection to identify the true situation feeding an emotion.
Just remember your journal is a safe space and be honest with yourself so you can get to the real cause of whatever it is you’re feeling.
3. How did I respond to this emotion? What were my behaviors and actions?
4. Is this emotion appropriate to the situation?
5. Was my response appropriate to the situation?
6. Is there a problem that needs solving that is within my control?
7. What is that first step?
8. If this situation is outside of my control, what is something I can control?
MORE QUESTIONS TO PROCESS HARD EMOTIONS
If you're looking for some deeper Mood Journaling questions, these were developed by Neidich and can help you process harder emotions:
1. Which emotion(s) am I trying to avoid right now
2. Why am I trying to hide from this emotion?
3. What does this emotion need from me?
4. What is preventing me from addressing this feeling?
So far, this article focuses on the negative emotions, but if you're wanting a specific resource to help you journal through positive emotions, you may want to look into Gratitude Journaling. We’ve partnered with licensed therapist Lara Waycot to develop a free 10-Day Gratitude Journaling Prompt which you can download here.
Mood journaling is a tool to help you improve your self-awareness and overall mental health, but it doesn’t happen overnight.