Many people have asked about mood swings and anxiety. That’s why we’d like to share our perspective on the importance of keeping track of your mood and anxiety by journaling and specifically how it can help you.
Two important points:
1. It’s imperative to track your moods and anxiety.
2. And it’s so important to document your thoughts and your process of working through them to resolution.
If you have read some of my other articles then I’m sure you’ll know that I am referring to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). If not, you can click here and access an intro to CBT (opens a new browser window so you don’t lose your place).
Let me discuss an example that illustrates the usefulness of tracking your moods and anxiety (and mood swings and anxiety).
If you’ve ever worked in a job that requires you to keep a log of completed tasks throughout the day then you may have had the experience I am going to discuss. Imagine throughout the day that you have written down all of the things that you’ve done. An example from the workplace could be responding to emails, dealing with phone calls, working on a draft report.
Then later in the day you come back to that list, and you’ll likely have noticed that probably much more was accomplished than what you thought before consulting the list. It can be quite encouraging.
By tracking things in this manner you have a reference point to see what you have accomplished. It can be very encouraging to see how you have improved. This is the same with any mood swings and anxiety.
Allow me to expand…
You see we often don’t realize that our moods and anxiety are improving when they are. For instance we don’t often note that our anxiety levels are decreasing even when they are because we want to see everything in absolutes. Seeing things in absolute terms is a Cognitive Distortion called Black and White Thinking.
Alternatively, you don’t always see patterns in your emotions and in turn your thinking that can be influencing your anxiety and mood.
A form of journaling called a Daily Mood Log allows you to have a reference point by tracking your mood, anxiety, emotions, and even depression.
A Daily Mood Log can point to certain times throughout the day and week when you are more anxious and possibly illuminate some environmental factors as well as situational factors contributing to your anxiety.
As Dr. David Burns, M.D. indicates, “The Daily Mood Log may seem simple, but it’s a very sophisticated tool for changing how you think and feel. It will be the cornerstone of your treatment, as well.”
For in-depth examples of the Daily Mood Log you should check out Dr. David Burns’ book: When Panic Attacks: The new drug – free anxiety therapy that can change your life.
However, a simple adaptation that you can with today is journalling how you are feeling throughout the day and noting any thoughts that you are having so that you can then pin point the cognitive distortions in your thinking. You can then substitute healthier beliefs. You might also note what you were doing when the feeling and thoughts occured to see if there are particular triggers.
I’m not suggesting you can completely eliminate all mood swings and anxiety as some are a natural part of anyone’s life. Rather, at times you might be able to eliminate unnecessary triggers in your environment, and sometimes you can’t, but you can always come up with a strategy. For more information about strategies that will help with your mood and anxiety, click here. Or, alternatively, feel free to sign up for my free newsletter (below).
Reference (Mood Swings & Anxiety)
Burns, D. D. (2006) When Panic Attacks: The new drug – free anxiety therapy that can change your life. (pp. 76- 90) New York, NY: Broadway Books.