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The Magic of Marking down Your Mood Every Day

The Magic of Marking down Your Mood Every Day

Let me ask you a question: what emotions did you experience today? Were you happy? Sad? Frustrated or anxious? Recalling your emotions from the last 24 hours is pretty easy but what about yesterday? Or last Friday? It starts to be a bit hard. What if I’m asking you about last month?

Emotions affect us every minute and every second. When you feel anxious at work, you’re more likely to make mistakes and it’s harder to come up with great ideas. When you’re frustrated for unknown reasons, you lose motivation and would just like to lie on your bed doing nothing. When you’re angry with someone, you unconsciously treat others angrily too. Losing track of emotions means losing track of all these. You’ll never know the reasons and patterns and hence never be to solve the issues and improve the situation.

Emotions should be approached like money

People treat money with so much importance yet they can be so dismissive of their emotions and how they affect them. When we have less money than we’d like, we’ll automatically tune our spending and keep track of where it’s going and how much we have – adapting our spending habits accordingly. In other words, if one doesn’t keep track then there’s no way to tune and improve it.

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This is how emotions should be approached. By putting the same importance on how we feel, acknowledging why we feel a certain way and what’s caused it, we’re able to tune better into identifying and handling emotions in a more positive way.

3 things to mark down every day

Throughout any given day, write down the following:

  1. Your general emotion of the day
  2. The events of the day
  3. The link between your emotion and what happened

You’ll notice your emotions fluctuate on different days. This is completely normal. After all, we’re human and it can be difficult to control what happens to us and how we respond to them so it’s important to give yourself a bit of understanding.

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      Because of this, it’s impossible to always maintain a happy mood so don’t put pressure on yourself to consistently feel positive emotions.

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        Once you start tracking your moods and the events of the day you can start to see the connections between them. Reviewing your emotions means being able to see what exactly makes you happy, anxious or sad. You might not know rainy days make you sullen before. You might not be aware initiating a greeting to your neighbor can make you feel energetic for the rest of the day until you mark all these down.

            You can use excel or mood apps such as Mr Mood which can help you see correlations more clearly. Try it out for a few days but keep it general – try to not rate your mood by the hour as it’s more likely to fluctuate in smaller time frames. Instead rate your overall mood of the day along with the events that occurred.

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            Over time, although fluctuations still exist, you’ll see your mood is boosted overall as you cultivate more positive experiences and curb negative ones once you identify what they are. Previously bad weather made you feel sad, now you still feel a bit sad but you know how to make fun out of it by staying at home doing things you’ve always wanted to do but postponed. Previously you would only be happy when your manager noticed your efforts and recognized you. Now you realize how important recognition is to you after marking down your mood every day. And you’ve decided to recognize yourself whenever you think you’re worth it, even if no one noticed your efforts.

              “If you want to change the visible, first, change the invisible.”

              You’ll find that taking care of your invisible emotions actually means taking care of every aspect of your life. That’s the magic.

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              Brian Lee

              Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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              Published on September 25, 2020

              5 Powerful Self-Care Ideas for When Life Is Stressful

              5 Powerful Self-Care Ideas for When Life Is Stressful

              Stress doesn’t discriminate. It affects everyone, invariably in different ways. Regardless of how stress shows up in your life, I think we can all agree that it’s present. When it does show up, it takes over the show. It then becomes difficult to stay in the present moment or show gratitude for what and who we have in our life. In the eye of the stress storm, everything is tossed around into oblivion. This is probably when self-care finally comes to our mind.

              How Does Stress Show Up?

              On a physical scale, stress tends to be behind many of our typical ailments, such as headaches, insomnia, muscle tension, or body aches and pain.[1] When we’re in stressful situations, our body activates our fight-or-flight response. According to the American Institute of Stress, when the body is in this mode due to stress, “the body’s sympathetic nervous system is activated due to the sudden release of hormones. The sympathetic nervous system stimulates the adrenal glands, triggering the release of catecholamines, which include adrenaline and noradrenaline. This results in an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate.”[2]

              Why is this important? While our fight-or-flight response is extremely helpful when we’re in situations that risk our survival, not every situation is that dire. However, the body doesn’t know how to differentiate between such scenarios. Rather, we become accustomed to seeing every stressful situation as dire, and essentially locked into this fight-or-flight response automatically. This causes us to burn out because our body is constantly fighting or fleeing from threats that are not causing us any real harm.

              On a mental and emotional scale, according to the Mayo Clinic, “Stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior.” Everything is interconnected. When our physical body takes a toll due to stress, this has a domino effect on how we process our thoughts and feelings. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see correlations between depression and anxiety when it comes to dealing with stress.

              How to Combat Stress?

              Below are five self-care ideas for combating stress in your life. Consider implementing them into your daily routine for the best results.

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              1. Start a Brain Dump Writing Exercise

              When you’re overwhelmed with thoughts, it can become very difficult to stay present and focused. This could affect you at work, in school, or in your relationships. It’s as if your mind were filled to the brim with thoughts that are constantly competing for your attention. If left unattended, this can affect your performance or your state of being. Stress is just brewing!

              One exercise to get this under control is called a Brain Dump, and it’s exactly how it sounds. Start by getting comfortable with a pen and paper or your favorite journal. Without any special formatting or introduction, just start writing any and all thoughts that come up. Consider your paper a blank canvas onto which you’re going to spill every thought, no matter how small or unimportant. This can look like a laundry list, a jumble of words, or a paragraph. Don’t think too much of how it looks. The idea is to give your thoughts an exit. Once they’re on paper, they’re no longer swimming in your head for attention.

              Once you have them written down, leave them as they are. We have a tendency to want to fix our thoughts. Instead, allow them to simply exist as they are — they’re not right or wrong. Consider coming back to this exercise daily or whenever you feel like you have a lot on your mind.

              2. Sweat It Out

              There is nothing more therapeutic than moving the physical body when it feels the weight of stress. Energetically, we carry our day in our body! If we’ve had a particularly difficult day, that energy is going to feel tense and unsettling. This is why it’s so important to move and really break a sweat!

              According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America,[3]

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              “Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem.”

              Find what exercise regimen works for you, and commit to it for a few days per week. Scientists have also found that even 10-15 minutes of aerobic exercise can have a tremendous effect on your body. Go for a run, take a spin class or a power yoga class, or dance the stress away in Zumba. Whatever gets your heart rate up and breaks a sweat is one of the perfect self-care ideas to keep the stress away.

              3. Seek the Care of a Therapist

              Sometimes writing out our thoughts and feelings doesn’t seem quite enough. This is common and to be expected. After all, we are complex human beings who want to understand and process our emotions on a deeper level. This is why having a regular therapy session is so beneficial!

              In the presence of a professional, we can open up about what stressful situations we’re going through. We don’t have to keep our emotions bottled up, and we know that our honesty will be protected and safeguarded.

              Additionally, when we’re feeling stressed, we often want to simply vent and get things off of our chest. Having someone on the receiving end who will simply listen and hold space is a truly healing gift. We can often leave the session feeling more empowered, seen, and offloaded of the stress we brought in.

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              Lastly, we may be able to receive guidance from our therapist on a particular situation we’re struggling with. Having someone else’s perspective on something we’re too emotionally close to can be just the right solution.

              Here are more self-care ideas from a therapist: Self Care Tips During Difficult Times (A Therapist’s Advice).

              4. Interrupt Your Day

              This may seem like a derailing technique, but give it a shot! Interrupting your day means introducing something entirely new or random into a routine that is very monotonous or typical.

              If your work or school day is the same sequence of events every single day, bringing in an interruption can be quite conducive to your productivity and creativity. This can look like pausing in the middle of the day for a yoga stretch at your desk or in your office. It could be playing your favorite playlist in-between meetings or taking a walk outside for lunch. Not only does this stir up new energy for your day, but it can also de-stress your day.

              As I said in the earlier tip, when we’re too close to a situation or conflict, we have a harder time breaking away. We’re so emotionally and mentally invested that we don’t see how that proximity is affecting our health. So, interrupt yourself when you’re feeling stress coming on, and do something fun, random, and refreshing.

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              5. Get Some Energy Work Done

              Energy work is anything that is being done to improve the circulation and energetic flow of the body. This could be a massage, Reiki session, chiropractic adjustment, or acupuncture. As I said in a previous tip, moving the body helps move the energy that is blocked or stuck. This is why exercise is so important. However, sometimes we need a session where that work is done for us by a licensed professional. In such treatments, we have the luxury to relax and receive the benefits of the treatment. It’s a beautiful way to self-care!

              Final Thoughts

              Stress is unfortunately a common part of our life. It affects everyone, but to what extent it affects you is personal. One thing is for sure, and that is that stress has a tremendous effect on our physical, mental, and emotional state. This is why regular exercise is so important, as well as mental stimulation and emotional release. These self-care ideas won’t necessarily guard you from ever feeling stressed, but they will help you manage it better.

              More Self-Care Ideas

              Featured photo credit: Alisa Anton via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Mayo Clinic: Stress Management
              [2] The American Institute of Stress: How the Fight or Flight Response Works
              [3] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Physical Activity Reduces Stress

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