Archive for the ‘me’ Category

Mood Inertia

February 2, 2012

For the past month or so I’ve been using an application on my phone to track my mood.  It’s called My Mood Tracker, and using it is straightforward: every few hours it pops up and asks how I’m feeling.  I slide a bar around to register a number from 1 to 10.

I started using this app because I wanted to gain some insight into how my mood changes: over short periods of time, over long periods of time, and in response to the events in my life.  Do I wake up happy? Am I cranky in the afternoons?  Does time with Ruby make me feel better?  What about time away from Ruby?  What about exercise, or alcohol, or the vitamin D supplements I’m taking? Are there regular cycles to my mood?

In addition to recording my “mood”, I’m also recording things like alcohol and coffee consumption, exercise, and time I spend at Ruby’s school.  Here’s what the last month looks like:

Last month's mood

So after a month, what have I learned?  Well, my mood is all over the place, but there’s been a nice upward trend.  I haven’t done the crunching yet to figure out any of the overall correlations.

But here’s an interesting thing I noticed: thinking about my mood on a regular basis made me realize how much my past mood affects my current mood.  When I was feeling cranky early in the month, that made me much more resistant to enter an 8, even if I was actually in a good mood.  In other words: a recent history of being in a bad mood made me not want to be in a good mood. And as my overall mood has improved this month, the opposite is also true: a record of higher numbers made me not want to recognize when I was feeling bad.   Even yesterday, after a full day with Ruby and feeling tired and hungry and pestered, I only clocked in with a low of 5 — and that quickly jumped back up to 7.

The inertia of moods is interesting. I think we want to hold on to how we’re feeling because it reinforces the correctness of our previous state of mind.  It’s a kind of personal confirmation bias that operates on a level we probably don’t notice.

I’m hoping to get in at least a full year of recording this info in case there are any annual rhythms I can tease out. And I’ll report back with more analysis in a few months.