After a pretty horrific time at the end of last year where I was completely out of control of my mood swings for reasons unknown, I decided to give mood trackers a try. I’ve seen them around the community and always thought they’d be useful to someone like me, but it wasn’t until I had a complete breakdown that I decided it was actually worth a try.
I wanted to see if there were any patterns that weren’t overly obvious to me, and just how my ‘normal’ weekly moods looked. One of the first things you’re asked about when you start therapy or even just go to a GP for the first steps is how you’re feeling – and often when someone asks us that our minds immediately shrug and switch off.
To try and better understand my moods I tested out two different mood trackers – the first was the popular Daylio and the second Mind’s own creation. I spent a week on each tracking my moods as they changed throughout the day. Here’s what I thought of them both…
Mind’s mental health tracker was first up. It’s a simplistic app which does exactly what it says on the tin. There’s no pretty bows but it’s still incredibly user friendly. It’s self explanatory and easy to navigate. And it’s free!
The mood tracker works on a number scale, 0 being the worst and 10 being the best. It’s great because you can set your own parameters as to what classes as a 1, 2, 3 and so on. You yourself know what your 5’s feel like and what your 0’s feel like, so it feels like there’s a lot of room for movement when you’re determining your mood.
The journal entry is helpful because you can write down whatever you want against that feeling to remind yourself how and why you felt that way. The app will even highlight keywords you’re using often so you can see what you’re talking about regularly, like work, friends or family.
There’s a handy graph on the homepage which lets you see the lowest and highest score of each day so you can easily identify where your good and bad days are and remind yourself what happened.
Negatives of this app would be that you can’t go back and put in an entry on a day you’ve missed. You also can’t edit entries once they’re written. You can set yourself reminders to write in your mood diary but still, I think editing can be an important function if you want to add more clarity on something at a later date. Also, though you do get the handy little graph that’s it for stats reports.
Daylio is a free app if you want the basic package. Additional features (like adding in more moods and getting more stats) costs, but it’s only £2.99. Having some paying users has definitely helped them to improve user experience, including design.
It’s quite a sleek app. Very simplistic, neat, tidy and nice to look at. Everything is laid out well and easy to navigate. It’s not a threatening looking app at all, quite soft and comforting actually (with its subtle use of colour and cute smiley faces) to say you might be using it in desperate times.
Again, this app is easy to use. On the free version you get 5 moods to choose from which are displayed in various smiley faces and you can rename them to better suit your representation of each mood.
A great little feature of this app is the activity log that goes along with the mood tracker. There a loads of icons to choose from and you get to name each one. So, if you’re not so much about the words when you’re trying to note down how you’re feeling, you can add little icons instead. For example, I have ones about taking medication and if I’ve spoken to my FP – little personal things for me that can affect my mood quite a lot. It’s a great feature.
There are graphs letting your see how your mood evolves over days and months and even reports on which activities often go with each mood. You can also edit entries and add entries on days you’ve missed.
The negatives of this app are that there are only 5 moods on the free account which doesn’t give you much of a spectrum especially for those with personality disorders. It doesn’t feel like much room to move when you’re talking about ever changing emotions, and you can only pick one mood at a time.
To summarise: I really like both of the apps. I think they both have their merits and uses depending on how you work best. I think if you’re trying to track your mood for something like therapy or you need space to vent with your tracking then Mind would be a good choice. If you’re just getting into mood tracking and are trying to find patterns, Daylio is a great place to start.
So…Has tracking my moods helped? In a nutshell – yes. It’s helped me get a better visual of my ups and downs, identify the common causes of these ups and downs and also given me hope in times where I feel like the graph will never point back up again.