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  • November 20, 2021 5 min read

    Do you ever notice how differently we see things, people, and situations depending on the type of mood we’re in? We don’t notice it at once, but even our emotions and reactions are affected by it. If we’re in a good mood, we tend to be more positive and understanding, and the same is true in reverse: when our mood isn’t the best, it’s easier to lose our patience and react to everything in negative ways. 

    Despite being a state that determines “how we interpret or approach external stimuli,” we don’t always realize what our mood is right away. More often than not, it only becomes apparent later on and after we’ve already been overcome by particularly strong emotions. By then though—especially in the case of negative moods—much has probably happened. We may have snapped at people in anger and said things we didn’t mean. Lost our temper over something simple and trivial. Missed great opportunities, caught up as we are with our inward struggles. Refused to spend quality time with people we care about as we wallow in a vague and nameless misery. 

    Thankfully, mood journaling exists to help us become more mindful of the underlying mood states that we sometimes don’t know we’re in. By keeping track of how different moods can impact the ways we act and react daily, we can have more control over ourselves in various situations. That being said, if you feel like you’re a slave to your emotions, then this is a great first step to get the reins back.

     

    First thing’s first: what’s the difference between mood vs emotion? 

    According to Psychology Today, moods can last anywhere from hours to days, commonly with no clear or definite reason. In contrast, emotions are fleeting in nature and are caused by people or certain situations—they’re there one moment and then gone the next, often in just a span of a few minutes. Simply put, “a mood is a general feeling, not a reaction to a particular situation.” 

    Now that we have this distinction, let’s take a look at today’s list! Here are three reasons why you should journal about your mood!  

     

    1. Knowing more about our mood states can help us take charge of ourselves.  

    Numerous imaging done on the human brain has revealed that it has overlapping areas with activities that are modulated by mood and cognition, and studies on depressed persons show “changes in perception, attention, memory, and executive functions.” These suggest that mood plays a part in cognitive processes that affect the way we think, reason out, or remember things. In fact, it can even affect our productivity

    Here’s the truth: more often than not, we let our mood take the lead to the point that it runs our entire life. While this is beneficial if we start the day with a pleasant mood, it’s not quite the same during days where we wake up on the wrong side of the bed. The associated bad mood dictates how the rest of our day plays out, and the result is a negative impact on the choices we make as we act and react to people and situations. 

    This is the reason why the mood journal is so useful: tracking the emotions you experience when you’re in certain moods will allow you to see patterns that you wouldn't notice otherwise. Not quite a great start to your morning? What were the things that you felt, and how did it influence your actions? It may seem like you’re just taking note of how terrible you are when you’re “not in the mood,” but that’s not the case at all. Instead, you’re becoming more mindful, and that’s great! With access to useful information, you can plan out a course of action for the future that will allow you to turn your day around. 

    So next time, once negative emotions start creeping in, you’ll know to make the adjustments needed to prevent the rest of the day from spiraling downwards. Whether it’s finding a strategy to improve your mood or exerting more effort on being understanding and patient so that you can do what needs to be done, regardless of what you’re feeling, having a mood journal gives you the leverage of control. What you say, think, and do are all conscious, deliberate things.

     

    2. Learning what we believe about emotions can help us make changes for the better.

    Admit it or not, we have certain beliefs about emotions—our own or in general—that tells us if they’re good or bad and whether they’re uncontrollable or otherwise, among other things. Regardless of if we’re aware of them or not, these beliefs affect us in vital ways and can either make it easier or more difficult for us to manage them. 

    With a mood journal, you’ll be able to see how you respond to certain emotions, which can reveal what you believe about them. And while you can’t really change what your emotions are, reshaping your beliefs is definitely something you can do. In an article by UC Berkeley, research suggests that simply believing you have the ability to manage difficult emotions—called emotion regulation—can already make a difference: it may help with mental healthimprove well-being, but more than that, it also makes it easier for us to “bounce back” from emotional upset.

    If you’re struggling to pinpoint or give a name to your emotions, you can start with the eight primary emotions, all wired into our brains at birth. By determining your primary emotion, you can figure out any secondary emotions that you may have, most of which are learned either from the people around us, or the community and culture we’re a part of. Here’s another list of emotions to monitor. 

     

    3. Mood and emotion mindfulness can help us maintain a more positive attitude.

    According to a study, positive emotions help “individuals, communities, and societies to flourish,” but that they also “produce flourishing.” And what more can cultivate positive emotions than having a positive attitude? It’s worth noting that a person’s personality plays a key role too: more positive people have the tendency to be more optimistic, which means they’re more capable of maintaining a positive mood. But this is where information from a mood journal comes in: even if you’re not the most positive person around, it gives you the opportunity to analyze and refocus your attention towards evidence that can encourage a more positive mindset. 

    A common strategy that people capable of emotion regulation implement is called reappraisal: the ability to change the meaning of an emotional event. One way of effectively practicing this is by referring to your mood journal and understanding the positive mood and emotions that helped you have a more optimistic attitude in the past.

    This tangible proof will then support your positive mindset over time, which will make it easier for you to reappraise certain events and situations in such a way that shines a positive light on them. 

     

    Conclusion

    Admittedly, mood is something we hardly take notice of even though it goes hand in hand with emotion. Keeping a mood journal changes all that by providing you an avenue to understand how these two are linked, and how knowing more about them can vastly influence and improve the choices you make, your behavior, and the actions that you take. 

    Are there instances where you know exactly what your mood is, and way before you’re overcome with a strong emotion? If yes, do you just go with the flow or, in the case of a negative one, do you take steps to turn your bad mood around? Let us know in the comments below!  

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