Teen's Mental Health Tracking Method Is One We Could All Benefit From Trying

We could all learn a thing or two from this genius tracker.

When 21-year-old Markale Bailey stepped into his 16-year-old sister's Kyra's room, he was surprised to spot a sheet of lined paper that tracked her days in a creative way. 

Kyra had created a 2017 calendar that used a color-coded system to sum up how she felt each day of every month, with each box filled in with a color matching her mood that day.  The moods portrayed included "amazing, fantastic day," "really good, happy day," "normal, average day," "exhausted, tired day," "depressed, sad day," "frustrated, angry day," "stressed, frantic day," and "sick day." By the end of the month, she was left with an overall picture of what her mental health looked like.

Bailey was so impressed by his sister's method that he decided to share it with his Twitter followers. 

"It's the best way to analyze what is going on in your life and what you should do to stay positive," Bailey told BuzzFeed. "I wanted to show the people on Twitter how creative Kyra is and โ€ฆ hopefully inspire other people to keep a tracker of themselves of their lives also or something similar." 

Twitter users were definitely inspired. The tweet went viral, amassing over 14,000 favorites and over 7,000 retweets to date. People responded by saying they thought the idea was genius, and that they can't wait to start their own mental health tracker. 

"Using the tracker really helps my mental health, it makes me feel like every day I'm a new person," Kyra told BuzzFeed. "It really helps you look back on your past years wondering how you felt through those long days you had at school or at work or just in life in general."

Her mental tracking method is similar to many other bullet journaling techniques, and is a great way to take stock of how you feel each day, and to give yourself a break from everyday stresses and reflect on your own well-being. 

According to behavioral neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, bullet journaling methods can also help you with "externalizing your memory." 

"In other words, don't just try to keep track of things in your head. Somehow get what's in your head out there in the world, whether that means writing it down in a journal or on little three-by-five index cards, covering your desk and your fridge and your walls with Post-its, or making voice memos," he told Science of Us. "Some ways of doing that are more elaborate than others, but anything that gets it out of the head is a good thing."

Taking time to note your mental health on paper could ultimately help to make you more productive, too. "We should make time and space to alternate" between focus and "mind-wandering attentional mode," Levitin said. "The research tells us that if you can take time off from your workflow and let your mind wander โ€” maybe doodle, listen to music, draw pictures, just stare out the window โ€” those periods of inactivity are actually essential to having productive periods of activity."

One way to take Kyra's method a step further is to take time at the end of every tracking period to think of ways to have more positive days in the upcoming month. Perhaps you could spend some time actually drawing out the ways you'll try to improve those days and enhance your productivity in the process. 

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