Self-awareness is key in life. If you cannot be aware of your feelings in any given situation, most likely you are just reacting to life instead of living it. Mood mapping may be a tool that can help those who have difficulty understanding their own feelings in situations of high emotion.
I wanted to share this topic because I came across an article entitled “How mood mapping helped me beat bipolar disorder” by a neurosurgeon-turned-psychologist named Dr. Liz Miller who was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder late in her life. Click here to read the article. She was unable to continue her career as neurosurgeon after her diagnosis but made the best of it by becoming a psychologist and helping to determine methods to control the extreme mood shifts that are typical of Bipolar diagnoses. I also think her methods would be beneficial with clients dealing with Dysthymic Disorder and MDD, etc.
Dr. Miller’s concept of Mood Mapping is based on identifying your energy levels and moods. She advocates for having your energy level plotted on a vertical line and the feelings associated with that energy level (depending on how positive or negative you feel) on the horizontal line.
On this map, she suggests that four basic moods be identified:
1- High energy and feeling positive — which is Action
2- High energy but feeling negative — which is Stressed or Anxious
3 – Low energy but feeling negative – which is Depression or Exhaustion
4 – Low energy but feeling positive — which is Calm
Once you feel comfortable with how mapping works and understanding your level (was it a level 1 or 4 today?) then you can start doing this daily. It may take a few tries and that’s ok. Think of it like exercise. You get better as you do it more. With daily practice comes the ability to identify the event or circumstance that led you to feel a level 3 – Depression or Exhaustion instead of a level 4- Calm or even a level 1 – Action, on each day.
I think the mood mapping would also work really well with a journal. It would enable you to go back and read about the events, food, people, environment that negatively affected your mood that day and then allow you to compare your day to your mood map in order to identify the factor that contributed to your having negative energy. It would also hopefully encourage you to change your behavioral patterns so that less icky days occur.
Dr. Miller reports that there are five main areas of life which affect a person’s mood that can be changed . The five keys are your surroundings; your physical health; your relationships; what you know are your strategies for life; and being yourself. The article further indicates that recent studies have shown how important surroundings are. Looking at trees and being in natural surroundings as opposed to being in city environments helps people feel better (Remember the Sunshine Vitamin D…go outside people!). Physical health is equally important; diet and exercise are fundamental. Even if someone has a disability he or she can still be healthy.
Of course, mood mapping, journaling, being outdoors, having appropriate exercise/diet, and even therapy itself would only work if you were honest with yourself and willing to be consistent. If you are able to do so, you will eventually be able to identify moods and mood triggers without the mood map, enjoy everyday and continue on the path to perpetual positivity. That’s the goal, in the end.
If anyone out there tries this, please come back and let us know about your experience. Enjoy your day!
Photo Credit; Dr. Liz Miller, Moodmapping.com