image of a hand drawn trigger tracker for mental health

15 Creative Ways to Track Your Mental Health


Header image credit: Lindsay Braman

Whether you are recording your mental health to see if your medication is working or keeping a log for you and your doctor – there are many ways daily tracking can help you assess your wellbeing. If you already track your mental health, you might have a routine that works well for you, and that’s great! Please share below in the comments with ideas and recommendations. If you’ve never kept a daily log or are looking for creative new ways to track your health, there are a number of different tricks and templates you can try.

There are many ways to start journaling. Some people prefer bullet journaling, an organized list-making system that allows you to track tasks and make notes, while others prefer to write their thoughts down in a notebook without any prompts or charts. For those who don’t like to draw or design their own templates, you can buy a notebook filled with graphing paper or print a pre-designed template, like the ones below.

From simple templates to illustrated lists, here are 15 creative ways you can track your mental health.

1. A List Making Template That Compares Fears to Reality

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2. A Mood Tracker That Charts Highs and Lows

3. A Bullet Journal Template That Categorizes Tasks By Time of Day

4. An Illustrated To Do List of Self-Care Activities

5. A Bullet Journal Template That Tracks Sensory Overload and Anxiety Attacks

6. A Printable Template for People With Bipolar Disorder

7. A Mood Tracking Template Based on the Movie “Inside Out”

8. A Mood Tracking Chart That Tracks Triggers, Thoughts and Self-Care Activities

9. A Printable Tracker for People Living With Depression

10. A Printable Tracker for People Living With Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

11. “Year in Pixels” Printable Mood Tracker

12. A Printable Weekly Depression Tracker

13. A Printable Tracker That Tracks Physical and Mental Symptoms

14. A Bullet Journal Template That Tracks Moods

15. A Bullet Journal Template That Uses Lists to Track Triggers

image of a hand drawn trigger tracker for mental health

Download from Lindsay Braman.



15 Creative Ways to Track Your Mental Health

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21 Secrets of 'Highly Sensitive' People


Although people with anxiety and other mental health challenges know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed by your surroundings, for some people this sensitivity is more than a once-in-a-while phenomenon — it’s engrained in their personality. It’s called being a “highly-sensitive person” (HSP), a personality trait in 15 to 20 percent of the population, that makes those who have it more sensitive to sounds, feelings, pain and other everyday stimulation. In a loud and sometimes overwhelming world, people who are highly sensitive can be easily susceptible to anxiety and depression if they’re not taking care of their needs.

To get a sense of what people who have this trait need, we asked highly-sensitive people in our mental health community to share one thing they wish others understood about their experience:

Here’s what they shared with us:

1. “I wish they would get we recognize everything around us more deeply than other people. Nothing can be ignored. That’s why being in a room full of people can be really exhausting.” — Birgit K.

2. “Most of the time it’s just as much of a surprise to you as it is to me when I start crying. I cannot control my emotions sometimes and they usually emerge suddenly even when I’m only slightly upset.” — Ashton P.

3. “We aren’t ‘just dramatic.’ We actually feel things stronger than other people. It’s like burning your hand when you already have a wound. It’s the same pain, but I sometimes feel it more because I’m more vulnerable.” –Cinthya G.

4. “I wish people understood that as a sensitive person, I am always analyzing my behavior and the temperament of those around me to avoid conflict, misunderstanding and impoliteness. This makes it hard to concentrate on much else.” — Jac J.

5. “If I could control it I would, but I can’t. I don’t cry at the drop of a hat for attention or for sympathy or to get what I want. It’s completely uncontrollable, uncomfortable and highly embarrassing for me.” — Rebecca R.

6. “Respect my personal space. The closer people are to me physically, the more I take on their (usually) negative energy. It drains me. If I can feel your body heat, you’re too close.” — Crystal R.

7. “Everything about my body is sensitive so it only makes sense I’d have a sensitive mind. Having Asperger’s, it is really hard to communicate to others, I just keep it simple and say I feel like a mirror and I reflect emotions.” — Andrew M.

8. “I’m not trying to making it about me. But rather, if I was in any way part of the problem causing you discomfort in any way, I want to recognize it and be part of the solution. I sense deeply when you’re troubled and I just want to be there to support and encourage if it’s possible. I don’t have a hidden agenda.” — Robyn W.

9. “I will remember things that were said or done weeks, months and years down the road. Something others wouldn’t give a second thought may stay with me indefinitely.” — Ginny B.

10. “I can’t just ‘get over it.’ Yes I know it’s not a big deal and I wish I didn’t take everything to heart, but I do and nothing can change that.” — Hannah C.

11. “My quietness and conservative ways are not that I’m a snob, I’m an emotional person and I have social anxiety too, so sometimes just a casual conversation [makes] my heart beat out of my chest.” — Brittney V.

12. “I’m not weak because I’m sensitive. In fact I think it makes me stronger [to] express my emotions so openly. I can feel the full spectrum of human sensitivity.” — Taylor C.

13. “While others view ‘sensitivity’ as a weakness or annoyance, I find great pride in feeling things so deeply. It causes me to be more empathetic, passionate and to look very deeply into the actions and personalities of other people around me.” — Alexandra R.

14. “If you ask me ‘what’s wrong?’ and I say nothing, please don’t push me to tell you at that moment. Most likely, the second I start explaining, I will burst into tears and feel worse. Give me some time to calm myself then we can talk.” — Holly L.

15. “Please don’t judge me. Believe you me, there in no one who judges me more than myself.” — Sarah C.

16. “I wish people understood sometimes I just need to be left alone in silence to collect myself and try to feel normal again.” — Taylor C.

17. “I’m not crying for effect or attention or to manipulate you. Trust me, I’d rather not be crying right now. It’s exhausting to feel this much.” –Nicky P.

18. “I just wish they would really listen with the intent to understand what I am saying instead of dismissing my feelings simply for the fact they do not understand.” — Brooke C.

19. “We aren’t drama queens.” — Anna L.

20. “Even though my body might be in front of them, my brain is far away and undetectable. Depersonalization is what I wish people understood.” — Shannen F.

21. “When I feel, I feel to my core.” — Becca R.

What would you add?



21 Secrets of 'Highly Sensitive' People
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The Part of My Mental Illness That's Really Hard to Talk About


I’ve always been open about my mental illness; and I know that’s not a common thing. I’ve made public statuses, blog posts, and announcements. I think I told my entire friend group about my suicide attempt in high school right after I got out of the hospital, as if I was talking about college orientation. I’m an open person; it’s more of a curse than a blessing, in my opinion, but that’s who I am.

Still as open as I am about my mental health and the baggage that comes along with it, there’s one part of my illness I keep silent about: the long term.

I try the best I can to not focus on the long-term of my mental illness, simply because it terrifies me thinking one day I might be an 80-year-old woman with manic rage, severe depression, and still struggling with suicidal thoughts. I terrifies me that there’s a chance I could live a long time and still deal with this.

There are times I think it will go away, but that’s not how this works. I’m not going to wake up some day and be “cured” of my diagnosis. I’m always going to have to work hard to keep a balance in my head. I’m going to have to check my mania and make sure I’m not practicing harmful behaviors. I’m always going to need to monitor my drinking in fear that I could have one drink too many and slip into an episode. I will have to make sure I leave my house enough to not be depressed. And I’m most likely going to need intensive care if/when suicidal thoughts occur. I am still in my early 20s right now, and the thought of surviving my 20s is already an overwhelming thought. I’m at a place where I constantly compare myself to my peers, and it’s so damaging to my mental health. What if I’m not an established woman by 30? What if by 40 I still don’t own a house? Will I be driving by 50? Will I even make it to 60? 

Thinking long-term can be a scary thought for me. Knowing I’ll have to live with my diagnosis makes me angry; it feels unfair. I didn’t do anything to “deserve this.” It’s not my fault I have a mental condition. Why is this my life?

Mental illness can be a hard pill to swallow. It takes a lot of time to grasp that this will always be my life. But I have hope that I’ll find the right way to treat my mental illness and will find balance in years to come.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo by Transfuchsian

person writing in journal

Am I Surviving Mental Illness?


sur·vi·vor

noun

a person who copes well with difficulties in their life.

sur·vive

verb

continue to live or exist, especially in spite of danger or hardship

Have you been there? Are you there now? Has life swept you up into a cloud of darkness with no sign of tossing you back down? It’s a hard place to be. I know. Sometimes you weave in and out of no control and other times you’re calm and steady but still nervous of what could be hidden around the corner. Maybe that’s just what tragedy does to you, how pain hits you. Sweeps you up into all its chaos and takes claim of your life.

So you self-help. You seek counsel. You sleep it off. Eat it off. Whatever you can do in attempt to uproot those demons waging war inside your heart, your soul, your mind. Still, there is a striking difference between living and surviving. Between coping and growing. I know because I have walked those roads.

Have you been there? Are you there now? Or is it just me? We all have a story. And inside of that story lies a million different stories that led you to where you are now. They aren’t all pretty, and many may have been nearly impossible to live through; mine have. But I am here now, and so are you. Alive, even if we don’t feel alive. Processing. Contemplating.

Some days for me are more about survival than living. Some days are just about getting out of bed. Putting one foot in front of the next. The beautiful thing is our lives are stories. Every beautiful and tragic moment of it. Every climb, every fall. It is all a unique display of journey and failure and healing. And more importantly only you can find that story. Only you can write that story. Only you can share that story. No one knows it quite like you.

I want to tell you it gets better, but I can’t. It just shifts and bends and changes; it always changes. But there is magic in the change. In the transformation and there is magic in our ability to guide it, sometimes without even knowing.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Blurred medical background. Moving human figure in the hospital corridor.

Behind the Locked Doors of a Psychiatric Unit


If you think a psychiatric ward is a place full of patients with NG-tubes in their noses and self-harm scars up their arms, you are not necessarily wrong. You may picture patients lining up four times a day for medication and sitting down to eat with plastic utensils. Yes, some people are detained against their will because their loved ones say they don’t have the capacity to make decisions or are too unwell to act in their own best interest. And yeah, sometimes you can hear the screams coming from the girl in bedroom 10 begging the staff to let her go home, let her out, let her die.

But you know what? That girl was me. Me, the successful student. Yet within the depths of my illness I couldn’t tell wrong from right, and the voices in my head screamed so loud I lost track of reality and believed the staff feeding me through a tube were trying to make me “morbidly obese.” But if you were to look at me now, one year on, you wouldn’t look twice. Because yes, I lost myself, but I found myself too.

Behind the locked doors of a psychiatric ward is a place full of compassion, kindness, and forgiveness. A place where other patients will stay up for hours sitting in the corridor with you to make you feel a little less alone after visiting time has ended and your family has gone home. They push notes under your door to reassure you that you’re not as terrible a person as you think you are and that you are worthy of love. You will meet people fighting for their lives, looking for support, and though every day is a battle, each morning they wake up and fight another day. The walls may be covered with canvases with positive quotes and lyrics and thank-you cards from ex-patients who have made it to the other side, and the lounge is often full of bean bags all pushed together from the movie night you all had the night before. The staff may hold your hand when you can’t stop your body from shaking or the tears from falling. They’re there to talk, to play cards with you in the middle of the night when the sadness comes creeping in and you don’t know how you’re going to make it to morning. They may thread your eyebrows or help do your makeup or come in on their days off to take you out to the cinema to make sure you remember what the “real world” is like when you’re ready to face it.

So yes, some of us eat with plastic utensils and sometimes we needed someone to stop us from hurting ourselves, but every single one of those people I’ve met inside those locked doors have hearts bigger than anyone and would do anything they could to stop someone going through what they have. They are intelligent, compassionate, but most of all accepting. So before you write us off as “insane” or “lost causes,” please remember that mental illness doesn’t discriminate, and we’re all human. It’s not a flaw in character. It’s not contagious, and you can’t “catch it” by being kind.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo by sudok1

Internet troll illustration

How I'm Learning to Deal With Trolls Who Comment on My Mental Illness Posts


They say the pen is mightier than the sword. I have come to find this especially true as someone who publicly shares her life on social media. I tend to put my issues out there, whether through The Mighty, on my website, or sometimes on my personal pages. I like to share my stories, my accounts with my mental illness, and more; I do this because I believe that in sharing my story I can help break the stigma that comes with having a mental illness and can encourage people to get help and know they are worth it.

I get a lot of positive feedback, and I’ve even gained some friends through my articles. But there’s always a troll or two who really knows how to get to me.

For those of you who don’t know what an internet “troll” is, I’ll shed some light. A troll is someone who writes a comment or message to someone just for the sake of argument and insult. They don’t have an opinion to share; they’re messing with you to get a rise from you. In short, it’s an online bully.

I’ve come to learn how to handle trolls publicly. I’m a frequent user of the block/ban button. But I’ll admit, I’m a sensitive person. I take things to heart. When I’m trolled on a piece I’ve written about mental illness, I feel like my thoughts or feelings aren’t valid. I could have a sea of messages saying I helped someone, but that one troll will always stop me in my tracks, even for a few moments, and jam me up inside.

I know I’m not alone, as I have bared witness to seeing my friends get trolled — everything from receiving insults on political beliefs, to appearance, and even to getting threats from perfect strangers. And I know I’m not the only person in the writing community who gets these messages. It’s hard to deal with that because we tend to dwell on the negative. It is possible, however, to throw these thoughts away. It’s not easy; I’ve been trying to do it for years, and I still trip over the curveball comments at times.

The truth is, trolling hurts. Insults are insults no matter if they’re from friends or strangers. Insults attack us in different forms. It’s an attack on our identity. And I get it, I’m a writer I should be prepared to just roll with the punches. But I’m also a human, and I respond to insults online just like I would if a person walked up to me and said it in person. I’m a person with a fragile mind state.

I want you all to know, bullying in any form isn’t OK. Maybe it’s just a few words to the bully, but that bully doesn’t know what’s going in in their victims’ lives. And quite frankly, the victim don’t know what’s going on in the bullies’ lives. All we can do is protect ourselves, but talking can help.

If you’re being harassed online, please remember to be kind. Maybe that person needs kindness in their life. Maybe you can help them out; but never sacrifice your own mentality and safety, and be liberal with blocking trolls. If you’re the troll, maybe reconsider. I know people will always troll and always bully. But maybe your point can be made a different way. You could cause more damage than you may know.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo by Philll_bg

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