the (healthy) quantified self

I realize that I only do things like write on my blog and update my personal portfolio site and use healthier social media (like Mastodon) when my mental health is doing good. And then I completely drop off when I’m not doing well, which makes sense I guess. If I’m depressed and hating myself, it’s hard to be creative and think about myself.

The thing I’m trying to understand, though, is if not doing self-reflective creative tasks is the result of depressive episodes, or the cause of it. Do I start getting depressed because I’m not doing affirming creative tasks? I know that skipping those acts of self care that are important to my well-being doesn’t help. Maybe they’re just the first things I skip when I’m low on spoons?

Sure, I could do some quantified self tracking to figure this out. I’ve used Exist off and on for a few years, but it inevitably makes me hyper-focus on activities and correlations I don’t actually give a shit about, and just gives me more anxiety triggers. Maybe I should just create a little spreadsheet and form to self-report:

  • Did I write a blog post today?
  • Did I write for five minutes, self-reflectively and processing my thoughts?
  • Did I post something on Mastodon?
  • Did I make something today?
  • Did I read something that wasn’t Reddit or Twitter today? Bonus points for books.
  • What are some emotion words to describe my mood today?
  • How would I rate my mood today?

Just take a bunch of data, no judgement, and see what happens. Maybe add in some other questions for confounding variables, such as:

  • Did I eat three meals today?
  • Did I drink water today?
  • How much sleep did I get last night?
  • Am I physically sick in some way?
  • Did I leave the house today?
  • Did I socialize with people (not just Adira) today?

The trick is not to ascribe value to any of those tasks, and just record what I’ve observed. As my therapist says, I just need to be curious about myself and my emotions, and not judge.

If I end up whipping up a spreadsheet like this, I’ll letcha know how it goes!

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