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Can a mood tracker help you improve yourself? The answer is yes. How? We’ll get to that in a few minutes. But first, you know that your moods and other psychological factors, not just your physical stamina, contribute to how well you perform. It’s even an established fact that the mind affects physical activity. The placebo effect and psychosomatic illnesses are two well-documented proofs of this mind-body nexus. And many A-level athletes have spoken about how critical their “inner game” is to their success.
When you’re in a good mood, you feel like storming the heavens, right? And, you know from experience, that when you’re in a bad mood, your ability to concentrate may be adversely affected. If you have difficulty concentrating, it’d be difficult to win, right? The same goes for difficulties caused by an inability to collaborate. A bad mood may even predispose you to have an injury because you may not be as alert and attentive as you ought to be.
So, your moods are vital to your success and health as an athlete. That’s why a mood tracker is very important. But, how did it evolve?
The Genesis of a Mood Tracker
A mood tracker is one of the fruits of positive psychology and it was designed to help folks keep track of their moods so that they can easily detect patterns and gain insights from them. Tracking your moods is a concrete and smart way of obeying an ancient admonition: Man, know thyself.
It’s vital because if you track your moods before things spiral out of control, it’d be easy to detect patterns, and know when you need help. As you know, it’s difficult to manage what’s not measured. Therefore, tracking is a vital component of managing your mental health and improving athletic performance. You may detect a correlation between a negative mood and eating a particular kind of food, for example. You may find that a certain mood makes accidents more likely while you’re training. Or, you may find yourself overly stressed-out and drained after a particular training regime.
Mood tracking is scientific and some researchers have reviewed many of the apps available on the market to test their efficacy. But what is a mood tracker?
What is a Mood Tracker?
A mood tracker is a product based on research conducted in the field of positive psychology. Positive psychology is the scientific approach to understanding and leveraging the factors which enable individuals and communities to thrive. It’s about figuring out what can help us perform at an optimal level and how we can flourish.
In the past, psychology, in general, was largely fixated on repairing damages that have already occurred. It was reactive. Positive psychology, on the other hand, is proactive, since it is about cultivating the strengths and virtues that’d make for a happier and more productive life. In a sense, it is preventive.
You know that there are times you feel great physically, but you could be feeling terrible inside. At such times, you can use a mood tracker to help you note the changes in your emotional landscape. And, over time, the patterns show if you are okay, might benefit from some minimal counseling and treatment, or if you’re in grave danger. In a nutshell, athletes can use it to track changes in their inner states.
If you think about it, mood tracking is not a novel concept. In the past, many people used their diaries to record major events in their lives and to record their emotional states. But, like most things they’ve become more sophisticated. Now, most people use cute journals and apps. Naturally, apps are more robust since they offer data-driven insights. But, wait, what are moods?
What are Moods?
A mood, at the risk of stating the obvious, is an inner state, that’s pervasive and stable for a period, and that’s either positive or negative. It’s not always triggered by some external stimuli, it could be a consequence of an inner movement.
You know that your moods impact how you process your experiences. They can energize or depress you. This is why it’s vital to track them because if you can detect a high frequency of negative moods, you’d know it’s wise to seek help early. You know that your moods color your judgments and that you often regret certain decisions taken when you were experiencing a negative mood.
Key Benefits of a Mood Tracker for Athletes
The following are benefits of using a mood tracker to help improve your athletic performance and health.
Stay on top of your mental health
Injuries come with the territory when it comes to sports. And, it’s also a truism that pain and gain are part of the reality of being an athlete. But, intense injuries may trigger mental health issues. For example, some pains can be so traumatic that it becomes difficult for an athlete to cope. In such situations, anxiety, depression, and angst may set in and become regular guests. And the injury may even morph into an obstacle that could halt the athlete’s ambition and hopes of excelling.
An injury like that can be terrifying, seeing as it could be the harbinger of failure. It can become a vicious cycle if you don’t take care of it. Because the physical injury might predispose the affected athlete to fail, the failure then increases the occurrence of negative moods, which makes failure likely in future athletic engagements.
You’d be able to document your triggers
Triggers are stimuli that set-off certain predictable mood changes. You may become intensely anxious when you are about to start a particular form of exercise, for example. Or, you could feel psychically weak when you’ve had a particular drink or meal. Triggers are the key images from some previous experiences which serve to call forth memories which naturally leads to a negative change in your mood. Changes that could lead you to lose at a game or have certain injuries.
A regular tracking of how these stimuli impact your performance could help you easily detect triggers, and so you could easily decide to avoid them. This will have a positive impact on your performance and health. Some could be positive. Naturally, you’d want to cultivate those. A focus on triggers allows you to deal with the root causes, not just the symptoms.
Now, let’s look at how a mood tracker can help you manage stress, depression, and anxiety.
Manage your stress, depression, and anxiety
An athlete’s life is filled with stress and anxiety because you’re constantly being asked to push the envelope. Yesterday’s wins are no longer relevant. You’ve got to win more games, runs more laps, lift more weights. All these can take a toll on your mental health. And if not properly managed, depression could set in.
A mood tracker can help you see beyond the mask of being macho, to reveal an inner life that’s under the barrage of intense stressors, and that needs tender care, as soon as possible. Monitoring your mood is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of wisdom, seeing as when properly managed, they can actually help you win.
In exploring the benefits of a mood tracker I seem to have focused on negative moods, these are not the only moods that need tracking. You should track positive moods too. On the whole, both will reveal a nuanced picture of your inner landscape.
A Fitting Mood Tracker for a Discerning Athlete
You’ve seen how useful a mood tracker can be. But, you might be wondering: What types are available and how can you get one for yourself. Essentially, there are two types of mood trackers: paper journals and apps.
There are many types of journals you can buy online. Etsy and Amazon are great stores to check out. The journals come in different shapes and sizes and they are highly attractive.
Some allow you to only list bullets indicating different moods, while some allow you to use a variety of colors and enchanting illustrations to indicate the different moods you’re experiencing. You can easily detect patterns from the records you’d keep in them. Click here and here to get awesome journals.
Apps are the next options you have. And, depending on your preference, they are more robust, more effective, and more useful. Why? You already carry a smartphone or tablet around, right? So, instead of carrying an old-school paper journal, you can just download an app.
You won’t have to stress yourself to read the results or to turn the patterns into insights, the app does it for you. It’d display your data in ways you prefer, whether as figures or charts or even as colors.
There are many good ones out there. But, before we do, it’s vital I remind you that the apps do not offer treatment. They are only for capturing some data which you can share with the health professional you’re working with. In fact, you can also ask for their advice on selecting a great app. Since they interact with many people who are probably using such trackers already.
Top Mood Apps
Now, let’s look at three top apps you should check out.
PTSD Coach is the first we’ll look at. Developed for officers (serving and retired) — to care for the many dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) — it enables users to track their symptoms and to access educational content about the condition. There are also resources on anger management, relaxation techniques, self-talk strategies, coping with the challenges of everyday life and more.
It’s currently used in over 74 countries and users have downloaded it over 100,000 times. It’s a free app. And research conducted by the Department of Veteran Affairs show that 9 out of 10 users are happy with the mood tracker. It is rated more than 4 out of 5 stars in the Google Play store.
T2 Mood Tracker
This tracker helps you monitor the changes in your emotional landscape over time. And, you can easily share the data with your health provider. It enables you to rate your emotions with a simple slider. You can annotate your observations and the app can generate reports as PDFs and CSFs for you. It has graphs which display how your emotions have been over time.
And, it enables you to customize it for the specifics you want to track. The tracker allows you to back up all your data on an SD. It was developed by an agency that’s involved in building applications to help with traumatic brain injury and psychological disorders. It’s rated 4 out of 5 stars in the Google Play store.
Daylio is one of the best apps in the market. It has a simple and intuitive user interface, which you can easily customize. Like other apps you can use it to track your moods at set periods you have decided and it’d give you reports when you want it to. It’s not obtrusive because you can interact with a popup. You don’t have to open the app every time. It has icons representing the moods, and all you need do is tap, and it records your mood at that point. It generates reports as charts and graphs.
It’s free to download and you can upgrade to a premium version for between $4 and $10. Google Play users rated it 4.8 out of 5 stars.
Your Turn to Track Your Moods
Lastly, there are many great mood trackers in the market, the three above are some of the best. You can start with their free versions, and upgrade later when you have decided on the best for your needs. As we have seen, trackers are a helpful resource because they provide data which reveals patterns and insights that can help you perform better and also manage your mental health.
So, whether you like paper journals or apps, or, both, start today, and soon you’d be a calmer, more focused, more badass athlete that’d easily beat your opponents and excel at the toughest sports.