Like many people, the uncertainty, grief, and worry of the pandemic has put me on an endless roller coaster with my mental health. A headline sends me into a tailspin, online classes are a constant source of stress, and the remote semester is undeniably lonely. There are a lot of feelings, and I can’t keep track of them all.
When the semester started, I wanted something I could do on a daily basis that would help me reflect and check in with myself. Enter mood–tracking apps, my secret weapon for dealing with stress and keeping my mental health in check.
Numerous studies have found that evidence-based mental health apps are beneficial for overall mood–boosting and well–being. The mood–tracking strategy particularly can help understand patterns, triggers, and habits that contribute to negative moods, as well as increase general self-awareness and moderate overall stress levels.
There are so many different ways to track your moods; I do an entry three times a day, once when I wake up, another at midday (usually between Zoom classes), and a final check-in before I go to sleep. Each mood–log takes me no more than a minute—a few clicks to answer the prompts and a short typed entry if I feel like it. My app also sends me notifications so I don’t even have to remember to do it. It’s a practically mindless way to be mindful that has majorly elevated my relationship with my mental health.
No matter who you are, there’s a mood– tracking app to fit your personal mental health goals. And great news— I’ve already tried them all for you! Here are five (free!) recommendations for all of your mood–tracking needs.
For the chronically–stressed procrastinator in desperate need of some structure and external motivation.
Daylio combines mood–tracking with habit–tracking to help you reach your goals and get into better routines. There are in–app achievements to help motivate you to complete tasks and an activity tracker to learn how your day–to–day activities correlate with how you’re feeling. You can also set reminders for completing tasks and keeping up with habits, so if you’re struggling to find the motivation to watch your Zoom lectures or get started on that paper you’ve been putting off, Daylio will nudge you to get. your. shit. DONE. It’s like having a personal productivity coach and therapist all–in–one.
Additional Features: activity and habit tracking, mood pattern tracking, in–app incentives for keeping up with habits
For the sleep–deprived weekday warrior looking for an overall boost to their health and wellness.
Imagine if your Mom friend put all of their reminders and advice into an app. That’s Sophia. It’s a mood log, sleep tracker, and step counter all–in–one. It’ll send you notifications like “Have you had enough water today?” which is especially helpful if you’re the type to forget your own basic needs when midterm season comes around. Maybe you’ve been seeing your Mom friend less often because of social distancing or you got a little too used to your actual mom taking care of you over the summer—either way, we could all use reminders now and then to take care of our own basic needs.
Additional Features: link to Apple Health app, sleep & exercise tracking, task–based mindfulness programs to help establish better self–care habits
For newbies to the mental health/self–care world looking to better understand their emotions and mood triggers
Moodpath is my personal go–to mostly because of its simple user interface and calming color palette. Unlike some apps that require you to self–select habits and activities, Moodpath generates four to five questions about your current mental health, then asks you to do your own mood self–assessment. The result is a collection of researched–based insights to your moods and personalized strategies and resources to help you understand and improve your mental health. Not to mention, it’s funded by the EU and was developed by several European research institutions, so you can be sure you’re getting reliable insights and information.
Additional Features: personalized mental health reports, in–app mood journaling, mindfulness–based guided meditations
For the Type–A to–do list junkie who needs to press pause now and then for a mental health check
Do you get a dopamine rush every time you check something off in your daily planner? Then Tangerine might be your perfect mood–tracker. The app focuses on basic moods you get to track with fun emojis and setting daily to–dos that you get to check off one–by–one. You can also track how your mood affects your productivity and create “streaks” for doing your daily habits. Did I mention there’s a burst of confetti every time you mark a task as complete? Soooo satisfying.
Additional Features: habit tracking, mindfulness–based journaling prompts
For therapy–veterans and therapy–virgins alike looking to add something new to their mental health maintenance routine
Bloom is essentially a virtual therapy companion that provides mood–tracking and personalized therapy sessions for all sorts of mental health challenges. Unlike the other apps on this list, I highly suggest trying the full, paid version of Bloom if you want to get the most out of it. It goes beyond tracking your moods and activities by actually guiding you through exercises to help you boost your mood. Not to mention, it’s a super accessible, low-stakes stepping stone if you’ve been thinking about starting therapy but aren’t quite ready to try it out yet.
Additional Features: guided CBT exercises, mindfulness prompts and techniques, in–app journal feature
Everything about the past few months has been stressful, but with mood–tracking, I’ve learned to embrace my emotions, interrogate my feelings, and become wholly more aware of my moods and their origins. We should always be thinking about our personal mental health, but in a time of such intense anxiety and uncertainty, there will never be a better time to start checking in with yourself.