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QUESTION

I write in my diary irregularly and in the diary I record my schedule and mental state. I find that it is a good way to know myself. However, I am not satisfied with that because:

  1. The record is irregular, I am not writing daily and I when I do it's when I am in troughs of mood and want to cheer up;
  2. The history record is of little use, I seldom look back at previous diary entries since all there are is words such as tired, sad, frustrated or in peace, excited, etc.

So I wonder whether there is a more scientific way to record one's mental state, say a kind of psychological scaling method to qualify and quantify one's moods, so that through daily recording one could draw some curves and find some kind of period of mood, and then adjust oneself.

Also, are there any related mood tracking tools or mobile application?

{ asked by Mathieu }

ANSWER

The best method I've found is the BEAM mood chart (PDF), which is recommended by doctors treating patients with depression and bipolar disorder, but is just as useful for folks with an interest in "quantified self" tracking.

BEAM mood chart

This document (PDF again) explains it quite well:

At first sight this can look a little complicated but once you get into the swing of it you will find it hardly takes any time at all every day. You put an “X” every day into the box beside the level you think your mood is at in the coloured area. Some people like to record their highest and lowest points in the day by placing two “X”s on the chart for that day. You record your anxiety and irritability on the scale provided every day, but only record your weight every month on day 28. Put a figure in for the number of hours you slept that night. Write in the names of your medications and the dose in the bottom left of the chart and then beside it record the number of times you have taken that dose in the day.

Of course, you don't need to track things that don't apply to you or you're not interested in (eg. meds, weight). I've personally found using a paper printout of the above to be more useful than some of the mood tracking software available. I thought mobile apps would be useful as I could easily track throughout the day, perhaps with reminders from the app, but I found this overcomplicated things. Many of the apps also require you to rate various aspects of your mood out of 10, as well as logging activities you're engaged in at the time of tracking, which felt a bit like overkill!

Nonetheless, you may be interested in looking at these apps:

{ answered by Jonathan Deamer }
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