Geek Mental Help Tea Party: Mood Nudging

As part of Geek Mental Help Week and in more general support of World Mental Health Day, Manchester Girl Geeks put together a  Geek Mental Help Tea Party packed with talks and workshops to help folks better understand and manage our well-being.

I’m Manchester Girl Geeks regular @ZoeEBreen and I ran the Mood Nudges workshop.

[Update: here’s the ‘science bit’ on my blog CheerUpLove.com]

What are Mood Nudges?

bookcoverIn April 2016 Jon Cousins (creator of famed mood-logging tool MoodScope – more about that at the end) published Nudge Your Way to Happiness: The 30 Day Workbook for a Happier You.

A daily mood questionnaire and scoring system to prompt readers to come up with ideas for lifestyle tweaks which might benefit their well-being. 

The 30 day programme focuses on a different area of wellbeing each day. These range from the basics like sleep and nutrition to themes such as getting outdoors, to learning something new and celebrating your successes.

There is also space to note your daily scores to see how your mood fluctuates over the duration of the 30 days as you progress through the workbook.

So each day, one questionnaire, one score. Depending on your score you are directed to complete one of three written exercises around that day’s theme.

Mood Nudges: Warm up

I was keen to see what would happen if I tested the Mood Nudges format out on our Geek Mental Help Week guests.

To get into the swing of things participants were asked to fill out one of the standard daily mood questionnaires. Luckily geeks really love filling out forms!

Depending on their score, each participant were given activity A, B, or C to fill out. The theme I chose was called ‘Exercise Helps’ (they didn’t know this before doing the questionnaire).

I then asked people who did each activity to feed back. In a very short amount of time we had some great suggestions for exercise-related mood nudges from climbing up the stairs, to doing a yoga class and walking more on a lunch break.

Mood Nudges: Experiment

I wanted to see what would happen if we introduced our own theme and applied the Mood Nudges format to it. Another recent discussion for Geek Mental Help Week had identified work stress as a common theme, so I put that out there to get things started.

We came up with three related areas: work stress, productivity anxiety and worries that your work isn’t good enough. I split the room into three groups to generate relevant mood nudges.

In just a few minutes, participants came up with some really amazing nudges for their designated sub-theme. I was blown away with both the quality and quantity of suggestions, so much so that I will share them here:

Work stress

  • Prioritise if too many things to do
  • Take a break – at work, take a lunch break & walk
  • Separating working and relaxing spaces / times
  • Breathing exercises
  • Colouring, doodling to relax

Productivity

  • Make a list of things to do
  • Highlight what you’ve done
  • List achievements at the end of the day
  • Factor in breaks other self-care
  • Put breaks in Trello board
  • Big items – break into tiny tasks
  • Zen habits – one thing at a time – “half your to-do list”
  • Write something nice on a piece of paper and put in a box – opened at the end of the year!

Not good enough?

  • Make a record of your achievements
  • Collect twitter praise – like and remember your achievements – get in perspective
  • Note at least one thing you’ve done well in your career
  • Create a validation corner – visit it
  • Writing weekly what you’ve done right – self-care, e.g. sleep, diet, exercise
  • Focus on the positive

Yay! It worked

This quick workshop, which was around 45 minutes in length, demonstrates how effectively the Mood Nudges technique can be applied to a well-being related problem.

I’d like to thank everyone who took part for their contributions and I know that Jon is very keen to hear the results of my experiment too.

He kindly sent up six copies of the Mood Nudges book all the way from the USA so that I could offer them to anyone who was interested. High demand meant we had to put names in a hat to share the books out fairly. If you missed out, you can get your copy here.

Jon Cousins & Moodscope

Jon is well-known for establishing one of the earliest web-based mood logging websites Moodscope.com, launched in 2010. Since then thousands of people have used the simple system, which involves scoring emotions daily using virtual playing cards to track how their feeling over weeks, months or even years.

Jon devised the system after he’d struggled to find treatments to help his own mood swings. He found that his own awareness of his moods helped him to manage his feelings more effectively, and in 2010 launched Moodscope.com – you can out more about the science that supports it here.

Moodscope and Mood Nudges

After spending time sharing mood-lifting messages on Moodscope, Jon was delighted to hear from people who said these little snippets of advice really helped them. In May 2014 he started posting these daily gems Moodnudges.com. You can also subscribe by email to get a new mood nudge from Jon in your inbox each day.

Resources

Mood Nudges website and daily blog: http://moodnudges.com/

Mood Nudges latest research findings: On CheerUpLove.com

Moodscope (free and paid options): https://www.moodscope.com/

Geek Mental Help website

Geek Mental Help on Twitter
Thanks to Mark Brown aka @markoneinfour and my brother Ellis for helping me develop the workshop format.

[I’m @ZoeEBreen and my blog is:  CheerUpLove.com]

 

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