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Tracking and Journaling your Mental Health
When asked about how we’re feeling, we often turn to the simplest answer and try to find a suitable emotion that describes us in that moment. However, emotional wellness is much more than what we’re feeling momentarily. According to the National Center for Emotional Wellness, emotional wellness consists of our feelings as well as our capacity to control them when facing hardships and/or change. Emotional health doesn’t necessarily mean being positive all the time, it means you’re able to overcome challenges and face daily life without your emotions getting the best of you all the time.
It’s important to look after your mental health as it affects your overall well-being, even your physical. For example, a study focused on analysing the working conditions of over 10,000 British civil servants who answered some questions in the distance of 20 years. It was discovered that those working in lower statuses were suffering more symptoms, like bronchitis, affecting their health. As a result, a link between a poor work environment and mental distress was made, and this also affected their physical health.
Furthermore, the importance of mental well-being was highlighted by another study conducted in 1991. It analysed how the virus causing the common cold affected the body’s response of more than 400 individuals, from a variety of backgrounds. It concluded that those suffering from psychological stress were more likely to be at risk of infection rather than those without mental health issues.
The 360Wellness Tracker enables you to keep track of your emotions thanks to its Feel Index which asks you to select different emotions at the start of each day to understand your emotional wellbeing and provide you a report after two days to see how you progress. The Feel Index uses two scales to understand your emotions better, which are energy and mood. Moods are a generalised state and its outcome is subject to the environment around you, your mental health as well as physical health. On the other hand, emotional energy is about your feelings and your body’s reaction to it. As a result, our energy can either suffer or benefit from certain emotions, that’s why we may feel drained or full of energy when we experience certain feelings.
The 360Wellness Tracker on iOS or Android can therefore help you manage your feelings and see how you feel differently from one day to another. The Feel report can help you visualise what you’ve been feeling over the past few days thanks to 40 different mood states, such as being tense, happy and positive.
One of the main ways suggested by experts to cope with emotional distress is to write down your feelings: it’s called journaling. This is about writing down your fears, struggles as well as thoughts and ideas so you can cope with daily stress and anxiety.
A study from Advances in Psychiatric Treatment concluded that those who wrote about daily events and emotions for at least 15 minutes on 3 to 5 occasions, had better overall wellbeing outcomes rather than those who wrote about neutral topics. Furthermore, the same journal claimed that expressive writing (when you write about emotional experiences) helped not only with moods and reduced symptoms of depression while improving our immune system and function of organs like liver and lungs.
Journaling can be a helpful way to control your emotions and see what events can trigger some reactions rather than others. However, it can be scary to put everything that goes on in your head in writing, so maybe start small. Try to reserve 5 minutes of your day for journaling, so you can develop a routine and find it easier to write in your journal on a daily basis. Then, once you feel comfortable, perhaps you’ll enjoy the process and start writing for longer.
Furthermore, you can make it easier for yourself to journal if you structure it how you like. You don’t have to feel the need to follow a rigid set of rules. Just adapt the journal to your own style and desires, to keep yourself interested and motivated to continue writing. Plus, another tip you may find useful is to reserve a relaxing time of the day to write down your feelings. It can be better to write points down when you’re not in the heat in the moment, so you can take a look back on your day and put into perspective your feelings. Try to set aside some time for journaling and see it as beneficial for your overall being, it could be seen as a portion of your time just dedicated for yourself and your thoughts.
Moreover, doctors also backed the benefits of journaling. For example, Dr. James Pennebaker, an expert of expressive writing, was interviewed by Fast Company to talk more about this. He told them that scientific studies demonstrate journaling to be beneficial for your mental health as it calls on your right hemisphere of the brain, which is responsible for intuition and feelings. He says “writing removes mental blocks and allows us to use more of our brainpower to better understand ourselves and the world around us”. He also stresses the importance of keeping your journal secretive and for you only, as it’s a free place to express your emotions without considering others’ feelings or reputation.
However, there are also other ways to keep you and your emotions in a healthy place. You can try journaling, as well as talking to others and try being positive. It’s important to connect with others so you can build meaningful relationships and perhaps tell others if someone/something is bothering you and your overall well-being. Perhaps others can give you insight or a different perspective into your mental issues that you didn’t consider before.
The article gives space for some suggestions on how to manage feelings and improve your mental health. However, if you’re suffering from serious mental health issues, it’s important to seek professional help and find your own personalised toolkit to cope with them.
Here are some resources if you need a professional to talk to.