You'll Love This Mood-Tracking Activity!
Editor's note: Sometimes teens have trouble understanding the moods and emotions that are going through their growing brains. This mood-tracking activity from Choices Teacher-Adviser Amy Lauren Smith--a 6th-8th grade health teacher at the Shanghai American School in Shanghai, China, and the brilliant mind behind our Teacher's Guide each month--presents a therapeutic, activity-based approach to teen mental health.
Trackers have long been a part of health education. We use them for nutrition, water intake, exercise, sleep--all behaviors directly related to our physical health. They can be a useful tool for people of all ages as they look at their habits and recognize patterns and behaviors in need of a change. For this month's story on the teenage brain, we decided to have the students use a tracker for their moods, so they could apply this self-awareness to their mental health as well.
While I was tweaking the instructions, I had my students (or as they like to say, my guinea pigs) try out the activity first. Here is one student's rather insightful responses.
As you're going through the week, jot down (or draw) how you're feeling during the following times each day. Use the questions to help you expand on your thoughts!
Current feeling: Anxious
- Is there a clear reason why I'm feeling this way, or is it hard to put a finger on? I'm pretty sure I forgot about a homework assignment that I had due. That happens a lot. Also, I texted my friend last night about the homework, and when I woke up they still hadn't responded, so now I'm worried about that too. Like maybe they're mad at me.
- Was I with anyone else at the time? What effect did they have on my mood? No, I was in my room. But then when I went into the kitchen, my mom was there, and she was bugging me about some stuff, so that made me even more upset.
- For negative moods, how can I respond next time that might help me? I could write down the homework so I don't freak out about what I missed. I can also tell my mom if I'm feeling stressed so she doesn't make it worse. That probably won't work though.
Current mood: Pumped
- Is there a clear reason why I'm feeling this way, or is it hard to put a finger on? I had soccer practice, and we were doing some pretty good drills. I feel like we're ready for the game on Wednesday. Plus, while we were practicing, I wasn't worried about homework or stuff with my mom.
- Was I with anyone else at the time? What effect did they have on my mood? The other guys on my team were there, and they were making me try harder. Plus we have a bunch of inside jokes, so we were having some LOL's.
- For positive moods, how can I replicate the experience again so I can ensure I have more positive emotions than negative ones? Next time I'm stressed, I can go outside to play soccer with some friends, or do something else active, like bottle flipping.*
*If you're a middle school teacher, you totally now what this is.
Now, I'm not sure if this student actually followed the instructions or filled in the tracker right before it was due, but either way, it was a great chance for reflection. He was able to recognize that disorganization causes him anxiety, and running around with his friends can help it go away... a pretty valuable lesson for a 7th grader.
Bring this mood-tracking activity to your classroom with our Mood Tracker Worksheet, a great resource to help foster positive mental health in your classroom.