Stability and Consistency: Those two concepts became my best friends when I finally started working on self improvement, and I think they’re especially important for anyone with a mental health disorder. With that said, overtime I just realized that I functioned best when I was in a routine and frequently checking in on myself!
So, why track your mental health? I started tracking my MH to see if there were factors that triggered a certain response. For example: I now firmly know that skipping the gym causes a depressive response for me. I’ve also learned that if I don’t sleep or eat enough, I’ll experience bipolar symptoms like extreme stress and anxiety, and occasionally sporadic and unwarranted anger.
* Just to preface before we get into the different tips/examples, it really doesn’t matter how or where you keep track of the content – just do whatever works for you! You can even switch it up between the different concepts. I usually rotate between Word, journals, planners, and calendars.
1. Habit Tracker
Habit trackers are multi-functional. You can use them to keep/start good habits or get rid of the bad ones, or both! (For the demonstration, I’ll do both, but I usually just do the good ones.) This is a good tool because it reminds you of your daily priorities and goals, and it shows where you need to improve. Personally, it’s also a motivator because I don’t like writing ‘N’ in any of the spaces 😉
2. Plan/Track Weekly Wellness
I feel like this is mostly self explanatory, but setting time aside to catch up with yourself and focus solely on your wellness is super important – especially if you have a busy schedule! Everyones examples can look different, depending on exercise preferences and how much time can be dedicated. All of these ideas are pretty adaptable, like church for example. If I don’t have time to physically go to church on Sunday morning, I’ll watch a service or YouTube video on my laptop. But here’s an average week..
3. Priority Plans and Reflections
As you can see in my previous example, priority plans and reflections are in the weekly schedule. It’s important to frequently think about your goals and priorities so you can be intentional with the way you spend your time, and be happier in the long run! Reflection is also essential to reassess what’s working and what you’ll need to work on for the next week. I usually write about a page, but here’s a shorter example..
Specific: Have dinner with Abie to catch up, take a break from Netflix to cut distractions from my busy school week
Overall: Go to the gym 5 times, eat pretty well, homework needs to be done by 10
Had a really good week. Got an A on my exam, ate really well, made it to the gym 6 times, had a fun date night on Thursday, and stayed off of Netflix like I wanted! If I had to improve anything, I would have went to bed a little bit earlier during the week because I was exhausted from being so busy.
4. Daily Summary
Aside from the weekly reflections and priority plans, I give short daily summaries. Just jot down a sentence or two about how you felt, if you stayed in check with habits/priorities, and any current events – just enough to jog your memory for the final weekly reflection.
Monday: Went to the dermatologist, had a really productive day, feel energized and accomplished.
Tuesday: Stomach is hurting today. I didn’t eat good this morning, which set the rest of the day downhill. Went to the gym and almost got sick.
Wednesday: Babysat, got my homework done, hung out with my friends, ate better than yesterday.. Feeling better.
This last section is geared toward my people with mental health issues, but the terms can be easily changed! Basically, you just want to write down whatever you struggle with. For me, it’s depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Keeping track of this information can help me decide if my medicine is affecting me, how the disorders affect me, etc.
Here’s the main idea, up to interpretation:
1. Write down what you struggle with.
2. Pick 3 colors symbolizing how you’ll feel: good, bad, and okay. (I use green, red, and orange.)
3. Highlight how you felt that day, and give a sentence as to why.
Anxiety: Had a presentation, nervous all day
Depression: Nothing to be sad about!
Bipolar: Irritable all day because of extra stress
Anxiety: Had a relaxing day
Depression: All is good 🙂
Bipolar: No noticeable mood changes
Anxiety: Thought of getting out of bed is feeling uncomfortable today
Depression: Feeling extremely unmotivated today for no reason.
Bipolar: Was really happy yesterday, not sure what the change is.
So, there are my strategies for tracking and assessing your mental health. You can obviously take or leave any of these exercises! I know that keeping track of them all can be a lot, but if you are looking to stabilize yourself or troubleshoot any negative feelings, these ideas will be perfect for you!
Okay, that’s all for this post! If you can’t tell, I’m extremely organized, so I’ll hopefully share some similar tips soon. Happy Wednesday 🙂