Food for Thought: How an Emotion Journal Can Improve Your Happiness

Maybe you’ve kept a journal before — for food//water intake, for goals, or for all of the above in the CHAARG Fit Journal. When tracking your food, you often want to minimize the amount of *junk* foods with empty calories + maximize the amount of high-quality, nutrient-dense foods. What if we took that same approach to emotions?

In the book Psychological Nutrition, psychologists use typical *food* vocab to describe emotions, like malnourishing or fulfilling. Similar to how keeping a food journal doesn’t necessarily dictate what we’re eating but keep us aware of what we’re eating, an emotion journal can help you be aware of what feelings you’re allowing in your mind, whether positive or negative. ++ ultimately, it can help us improve what we’re allowing in our bodies//minds. You are what you eat + you are what you think!

When you eat a lot of junk food, you feel tired, groggy, + probably crabby. You don’t have the same pep to your step + over time, it can lead to negative externalities like weight gain or even medical problems. While sometimes you need a little dessert for the soul, sometimes you need a good cry, so all not negative emotions are *bad.* Instead, by being mindful of what emotions you’re allowing to linger in your mind, you are more likely to let the positive vibes grow + let the negative vibes go.


Like in a food journal, if you track your emotions daily for a week, you might start to see different patterns. Even if it’s reflecting on your top three emotions at the end of the day, you can determine if they were mostly positive or negative + possibly what triggered them. If certain negative emotions are triggered, you can be aware of what is dragging you down + possibly how to avoid them in the future.


A main source of emotions is relationships, whether personal, professional, or casual. Some are nutritious, some aren’t, + others make up higher percentages of calories//energy than we may realize. Imagine if you were writing a label for each of your relationship like you would food. While some foods look good or seem healthy, they may come with added ingredients like stress + negative vibes. You may not always want to read the labels, but you are always better off once you are aware of what you’re bringing into your mind + heart.


Do you experience anxiety or negativity before//after certain events? Do certain activities give you lots of positive emotions? Knowing exactly what provides *highs* or lows can help you balance your emotions. If you’re having a particularly bad day, knowing that you can do something else to increase your positive emotions will increase your happiness over time. You can also prepare for the future + unexpected emotions by knowing what calms you or relieves stress.


You can’t always choose what happens to you in a day, week, or year, but you can determine what you feel. You can choose happiness + this may take different forms depending on your specific goals or current circumstances in life — maybe this week, you want to focus on de-stressing + being present, but just as eating the same things day after day gets boring, other weeks you may want to embrace spontaneity + adventure. Allowing yourself the freedom to choose a variety of emotions will keep you feeling fulfilled. Similar to how we carb load before + feast after races, you should make sure you’re book-ending your obstacles//challenges with positive emotions to ensure you’re prepared + energized.

At the end of the day, we all want to feel happier. This doesn’t mean the same + it certainly doesn’t look the same for everyone, so while you can’t judge anyone else’s intake, you can be self-aware of your own emotions, feelings, + vibes to create a happier + healthier you. ++ of course, those positive vibes will be contagious : )

+ Mary K [@itsmarykfit] // VirtCHAARG Chicago

[originally featured on CHAARG.com]

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