What is a Mood Journal?
A mood journal, otherwise sometimes known as a feeling journal, is your place to get out all your thoughts, feelings, and actions in a fun, creative, and cathartic way. Mood journals are often used in therapy as a way of keeping track of thoughts, feelings, moods, and behaviors during the course of treatment and between sessions.
But you don’t have to currently be in therapy to use a mood journal! You can make a feeling journal for any reason whatsoever. Keep track of your thoughts, feelings, and moods throughout the week in a fun and creative way so you can look back at the end of the week and have a better understanding of what kind of a week it was.
Had a bad week? Shred your mood journal in a blaze of cathartic glory to rid yourself of the bad feelings!
Had a good week? Admire the pretty colors and good vibes you get from your mood journal for a while! Give thanks that you felt so good this week, and identify what kept it a good week so you can make next week a good one, too!
How Do I Make a Mood Journal?
It’s easy to learn how to make a mood journal. You can start by downloading the free mood journal template to print, or you can make one on your own without needing to print anything (ink is super expensive, after all) or bothering to learn how to make a mood journal.
DOWNLOAD A FREE MOOD JOURNAL TEMPLATE:
There are tons of different kinds of mood journals, but the one we will be using here is custom made to reflect the concepts of “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy” or CBT for short. The underlying principals of CBT include identifying how thoughts, behaviors, and feelings tie together to identify patterns of negative thoughts creating negative behaviors and feelings and counteracting them.
Step 0: Create the Feeling Journal
If you are not using the template, it’s easy to learn how to make a mood journal. On a sheet of paper, create a table with three rows and eight columns, so that the first column can be used for titles.
Title the first row in the first column “Emotion (Color)”.
Title the second row in the first column “Thought (Quote)”.
Title the third row in the first column “Behavior (Item)”.
Now, columns 2-8 will be a day of the week from whatever day you want to start on.
Step 1: Fill In Your Emotions
On each day, before you go to sleep, take stock of what you thought, felt, and did that day. Choose one particular feeling that you thought permeated the whole day more than any others (e.g. did you feel happy, motivated, sad, lonely, etc.). Then, pick a color that you think represents that mood best! Try to keep the color consistent if you can (e.g. if you use “red” for “angry,” don’t then use “red” for “hurt” or any other feeling later on).
Then, in the first row of the column that represents the current day of the week, fill in the color you picked of your feeling. You can either completely shade it in with the color, or do a little doodle of whatever goes hand in hand with that emotion, such as a smiley face for happiness or a spawn of the Prince of Darkness himself for when you feel angry. Get as creative as you’d like!
Step 2: Fill in Your Thoughts
Now comes the time to be very self aware. Think about what thoughts you had throughout the day. Was there a particular thought that sticks out to you when you realized you felt whatever emotion you put down? For instance, on a day you felt very lonely, perhaps you thought “I think my friends abandoned me.” Or on a day you felt motivated you thought “I was highly productive today!”
Write down the thought in quote form in the second row on the day it happens.
If you need help discerning a thought that goes hand in hand with your feeling, you might find it beneficial to talk to someone about your thoughts and feelings, or use a tool like MARCo’s journaling feature to better understand how your emotions tie into your feelings.
Step 3: Tack on a Behavior/Action/Event
The last step in completing your mood journal daily entry is to tack on a piece of memorabilia from something you did that day that you associate with that feeling. Say you felt calm because you took a hike in nature. Maybe tape on a leaf! Or say you felt stressed at your job. Tape on a coin to represent your pay or something minor from your job.
If you don’t have an object to tack on, make a doodle! Drawing can be just as cathartic as anything else. It’s totally up to you!
Step 4: Repeat For a Week, then Reflect on Your Journal
It’s now the end of the week. Way to go! If you kept up with this throughout the week, you should have a completed mood journal. Look back on your week and see how your emotions changed. Reflect on what you see.
Did they change at all?
Did they change a lot?
Are you happy with how your moods looked in your feeling journal?
Are you surprised by anything?
How do the thoughts and events from each day tie into the feelings you experienced?
Reflect over these questions to gather insights from your mood journal. You may find that you want to make changes to your daily schedule based on your findings upon review of your feeling journal.
Then, you can repeat the mood journal for the next week and so on if you want to keep track over a longer period of time!
So there you have it! You now know how to make a mood journal. Try it out for yourself, and again, if you need the feeling journal template, you can download it here:
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