A couple of weeks ago I talked about the Calm app and how I use it. I don’t use its full potential as I have the free version and it does what I need it to for now. Another app I use to help me with my anxiety and depression is called Daylio. This one is a journaling app and mood tracker. I’ve been using it every day for a year now and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
What is Daylio and what does it do?
The Daylio app is a mood tracker, first and foremost. There are five levels of moods you can add. I use the “traffic light” color scheme for my moods. So, they’re green, light green, yellow, orange, and red. The green is happy, productive, for example, and the red is angry, anxious, etc. You can give each color more than one mood which I find to be great.
You don’t just track your mood throughout the day though (you can update Daylio as often as you each day but it will “check-in” on you once a day). After inputting a mood along with the date and time you can write a journal entry that can be as short or long as you need it to be. Or, you don’t need to explain your mood at all. I personally like to add what I did during the day and why I feel the way I do. Sometimes I don’t know why I feel the way I do.
There are also “activities” you can add. For example, I have blogging, writing, reading, walking, baking, video games, and so much more. You can group them as well. So, I have an “appointments” group with activities such as a hair, doctor, dentist, grooming for Chip, etc.
It’s a great way to track your day. It’s quick and easy too.
Journaling is a great reliever
I’ve tried journaling so many times. I wrote in a notebook for years that’s still not filled up (though it’s almost filled) and I’ve also tried tracking my mood in a bullet journal. These methods work for so many people but I love the daily reminders from Daylio. I also love to see the progress I’ve made each week, month, and for the year.
Because you can add activities to the moods and your journal entries, you can see which activities tend to make you happier and ones that stress you out the most. You can find patterns and see how you can improve or figure out which things need to change and what don’t.
You learn a lot about yourself
Not only is journaling in some form a good habit to get into – whether you have anxiety, depression, something else, or nothing at all – you can learn a lot about yourself while doing so as well.
One of the things I love about Daylio is that you can also view your entries in a calendar form and they’ll show the different moods you’ve been in on each day.
I’ll admit, I didn’t think I’d stick with Daylio for long. This is, without a doubt, the longest habit I’ve ever been in. At the time of writing this post, I haven’t used the app for quite a year yet, but I began using Daylio in late July 2019.
It was a rough year
I’ve probably said this enough but 2019 was a rough year and 2020 has been worse. Using Daylio to track my days – all the good and all the bad – has been one of the best decisions I’ve made.
If you’ve been struggling with anxiety or depression or anything else, I highly recommend this app. It’s great to track your mood and talk things out with yourself. Plus, the app is encouraging. There was one week where I didn’t have a single green mood and a pop-up appeared and basically said, “we’re sorry you’ve had a rough week but we’re glad you’re here.”
With that said, it’s encouraging and therefore motivates you to keep going. It does help.
At the time I had planned on writing this post there were a lot of things in the world that didn’t exist – COVID-19, to be exact. In fact, I held off on writing this post because I didn’t think it would be relevant for 2020. I think this is something that everyone can hear regardless of what’s going on though.
I have a couple of bullet journals because I like the idea of them. But they’re not really for me. I keep trying to find different ways to use them and fall up short. There’s one thing I use them for though that I’ve been consistent with and that’s making a list of “firsts.”
What is a list of “firsts?”
I did a lot in 2018. I traveled six months out of the year. Granted, four of those trips were weekend getaways, three of them being to the same place, and five out of the six was to a place I’ve been before. Still, it was a lot of traveling for me and I did go to someplace and new and try something different.
It was that year that I decided to keep track of a list of firsts. So, it’s sort of like a simplified journal but also a list of accomplishments.
I can’t exactly what made me think of the idea in the first place but I did it for 2018 and have been doing it every year since. (Admittedly, I don’t have much written down for 2020 since… well, we can’t exactly go anywhere.)
Why I think having a list of firsts is important
It’s such a simple task that requires little thinking and takes about five seconds to write down. Whenever you do something new, something different you never saw yourself doing before, or something that you’ve put off on doing because you were afraid to, for example, keeping a list of those things is important.
You’re acknowledging your accomplishments
I went to Canada in 2018. It was my first trip out of the country, it was my first trip without my parents, and my first trip on an airplane. (Sure, I had been on a plane once before but I was three-years-old and I don’t remember it.)
Not only that but the trip was totally spontaneous. My sister and I saw an opportunity and we jumped on it. That’s not how I roll. I’m a planner and I need to figure everything out to the last, precise detail before doing anything.
While there’s nothing wrong with being a planner, I think being spontaneous once in a while is good for anyone. It was an accomplishment for me because I jumped out of my comfort zone and you know what? I had a blast. It may seem simple to someone else but it was a huge deal for me.
You can see how much you’ve grown
I’ll tell you that there are things I did in 2018 that I never thought I would do years prior to that. I would talk about it, of course, but never thought I would actually do it. Or, not until I felt more like an “adult,” if that makes sense.
On the days you’re feeling extra down, you can also look back at the list of firsts that you’ve done in the past or that you’ve done recently. Trust me, it makes you feel better.
You can clearly see all the things you thought you “couldn’t do” but you did them anyway. Even if it took you a while. I didn’t drive on the highway until five or six years after I got my license. Even then it was with a friend and I’ve only gone on the highway once or twice by myself since then.
But I can still say I’ve done it and I can do it.
See how far you can go
I like to keep one continuous list for the year and then restart it for the following year. I write each new thing in a different color because it’s prettier that way, so why not? I don’t even bother to break it up into months. Normally that’s something I would do but I like to just see all that I’ve accomplished over the year rather than each month.
I think part of that is because if I see that I did five things one month and none in another month it’ll feel uneven and I’ll start to wonder why one month was “better” than the other. Of course, no month is better than the other. We all try new things when we’re ready to try them.
Try keeping a list of firsts and see how much you can accomplish in a year. Don’t push yourself – just note the little things.
There are a lot of apps out there to help with anxiety, depression, or mental health in general. A lot of these apps are like journals or they track your mood. These are things you can easily do in a notebook or a bullet journal, but apps normally track the patterns for you as well.
Calm isn’t necessarily one of those kinds of apps that is a journal or tracks your mood. It’s just as it sounds – calm.
What Calm can do
Okay, I kind of lied earlier. Calm does track your mood. I forgot it did that because I don’t use Calm for that. But, if you want, you can check-in with Calm. You can choose a mood and write about what’s going on and why you feel the way you do. However, you do need an account to do this.
There’s a free version of Calm and a paid version of it. I have the free version and it does just what I need it to do for now.
Calm has yoga and meditation as well as breathing exercises. There are also soothing music and bedtime stories. Most of this you need the paid version for. Which is why, eventually, I’ll probably pay for the app. For now, I mainly use the two free things I can: the breathing exercises and the scenes.
Calm has a cool part of the app where it’ll guide you through a breathing session. You can choose how long you want to breathe for and it’ll show a bubble that will enlarge and tell you when to breathe in, then shrink and tell you when to breathe out. It’ll also ring a small charm when you’re supposed to begin breathing in or out if you need to sit and close your eyes for a couple of minutes.
I’ll admit, I haven’t used this feature too often. I sometimes forget it’s there so I get too wrapped up in something else to think about it. But it’s a good idea and it’s definitely helpful to have something to guide you through breathing exercises depending on what you need it for.
This is what I mainly use the Calm app for. I use it when I work sometimes, when I read, when I’m doing a Sudoku puzzle or something, or just when I need to lie down for a few minutes, close my eyes, and relax.
These scenes create sounds on a loop such as rain on leaves, thunderstorms, a fireplace, ocean waves, and so much more.
The best part about this is that you can play the scenes with the app closed. So I typically have it on in the background on my iPad when I’m reading a book from the Kindle app.
I love the Calm app
I’ve had this app for years. I can’t even remember how I came across it or what made me want to download it in the first place. I use it all the time though and I won’t go back.
Calm is a great app for whenever you need to relax for a minute or an hour or longer. I highly recommend it to help with your mental health or just to have. I hope the get the paid version soon so I can talk about it even more.
We’re back with another Mental Health Month talking about getting out of a funk. I’ve been absent for a bit so I thought I’d share some things I did to get out of my funk.
Getting Out Of A Funk
An Accidental Break
I didn’t mean to take a hiatus. I knew I needed to take a step back but I didn’t mean to disappear for a bit. I was still working off and on but not nearly as much as I normally do. This isn’t a complaint – it’s definitely something I needed. It’s interesting to me how your mind and body just seem to know what’s best for you. I had no motivation, no inspiration, and honestly, I didn’t care that I wasn’t blogging or writing. I took the hint and, even though I still tried to work, the rest of me shied away from it.
So, yeah. I disappeared for about a month. Actually, I think it was over a month. I think my hiatus had started before I announced it because I didn’t realize I was on a hiatus. Even when I announced it, I’m pretty sure I said, “I’m not taking a hiatus.” Well… that turned out well.
Giving Up Social Media
One of the things I needed to do to get away from it all and take a break was to get away from social media. Sure, I still occasionally scrolled through Twitter and Instagram. I checked my personal Facebook from time to time. I never posted though. (My feed on Twitter and Instagram look really weird.) I stuck to the shadows, never engaged in conversation, and didn’t bother to post so people would start a conversation. I didn’t have any blog posts to promote at the time, so that was one less thing I needed to worry about as well. While it was weird to be watching my social media from afar, not posting or replying, it was a nice break. I wasn’t using it as much and it freed up so much more of my time.
What I’m Doing Now
With all that said, I’m back. I’m back to posting regularly on Twitter and Instagram. I’m engaging in conversations again. I’m participating and co-hosting #TheMerryWriter again with my good, patient friend, Ari Meghlen, as well as helping out with the #85K90 Twitter. I’m promoting my blog posts again as well as my writing. I’m talking about everyday life. I’m reading and engaging in other posts. So, what exactly has changed other than the fact that I took a break from all this for a month?
Believe it or not, I don’t post in “real time.” I use Buffer, like most bloggers, to set up scheduled Twitter and Instagram content to promote blog posts, books, and more. I have the Buffer Pro Plan in which I can schedule 100 posts per social media account at a time. I had my Twitter set up that I needed to sit down each week and set up my posts. This took up a lot of my time. I now have it set up so that I can sit down once a month and get my Twitter set up for the upcoming month. This has saved me so much time and sanity.
Of course, that’s just general promotion. I’m still on social media in real time talking engaging with others and talking about my day and things like that. But that’s another difference – I actually have time to do that now.
I didn’t mean to stop blogging and I certainly didn’t mean to stop writing. However, there were so many things overwhelming me at the time and I felt like I was going to explode. I publish a blog post every day and that eventually takes a toll on you. I love publishing every day and toyed with the idea of cutting back on posting, but I honestly really like having content every day. So, where do I go from here? How can I continue this without burning myself out?
I’ve always wanted to be a month ahead. My Short Story Sunday and Writing Prompts are always done the year before. So, really, I only have five posts to write each week. I have a few monthly features – the quotes, mental health, healthy writer, and more – that I can write ahead of time as well. If you think about it, it’s only 12 posts a year. I actually got a good chunk of it done already. I just need to create the graphics, schedule it on WordPress, and figure out a sharing plan. So, instead of sitting down one day a week and doing the posts weekly and trying to squeeze in an extra here and there (I never end up sitting down each week – I’m constantly working on the blog). I said, screw June and got to work on July instead.
What I’m Doing Now
I’m actually blogging a month ahead. I made a list of “Summer Goals” for myself of things I want to get done in June, July, and August. During the month of June, even though I wasn’t posting on the blog, I was setting up the blog for July. I wrote the blog posts, gave my pages a make-over, and more. Of course, there’s still some work to be done that I’m working on, but for the most part, July is all set. Now I can start working on August’s content so that, I’ll be ahead.
In addition, different kinds of posts will be coming. During this break, I thought of so many other ideas for blog posts. This will no longer be a strictly writing and reading blog, but some lifestyle posts sprinkled in along with other things. I hope this keeps the content fresh and interesting for all of us.
No, I didn’t exactly have writer’s block. I still wanted to write, but I just didn’t want to write anything I was working on. Plus, I wanted to be creative, but I didn’t want to use the written word to do so. I wanted to work on my photography or find some DIY crafts to try. I wanted to create new skills for myself, try and learn something new and different. I flip-flopped so many times wondering what I wanted to do. Did I want to try something completely new? Or work on something I already had? The DIY section on Pinterest was y best friend for quite a while.
The thing is, I never actually did any of it. I bought some things to create something, but I never ended up doing anything with it. I still plan to in the near future, but I actually ran out of time to use it due to real life happenings. With that said, the planning was fun and I have that as a fall back if I ever get stressed and need a break from my other creative projects. In the end, though, it somehow put me back into the writing mood.
What I’m Doing Now
I don’t know why or how – maybe it was just the fact I took a month off. Maybe it’s because it’s Camp NaNo time this month. Maybe my characters have been impatient with me and are finally giving me a kick in the pants. Or maybe it’s all the Marvel movies I’ve been watching lately. Whatever it is, I’m writing again. And I have so many new ideas as well.
The thing is, even though I had been writing and going through the motions, I haven’t had any new novel ideas in a really long time. Normally, I start many projects and don’t know what to work on. But it’s been at least a year since I’ve come up with a new novel idea. Which is totally unlike me. Now, I’m rolling in ideas. I sat down and created a brand new novel timeline for myself for the rest of this year and into 2020.
I explained it to my sister through Discord, sending her a huge, long paragraph explaining my plans. Her response? “Wow, that’s a lot… Glad you’re starting to sound like yourself again.”
We all know I plan and over-plan things and this has felt good. It’s made me get back my mojo and I’m eager to get back to work.
Getting Out Of A Funk – What’d I Actually Do?
I don’t really know. I explained it all. I feel good. I don’t know what I did along the way to caused me to bounce back. This past month has been horrendous for my anxiety and, for a while, I thought all of this hard work – everything I’ve built since 2012 – was done. I wasn’t sure if I was going to come back at all.
But, I think, deep down, something inside me has other plans. I’m glad I was able to work through this on my own (with some support from family, of course) and I’m happy to be back to my normal self.
How’s my anxiety? Still present. But I feel much better than I have been.
How do you do when getting out of a funk? Also, tell me how you’ve been lately. Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.