Mood Mapping – Dr Liz Miller – About the Mood Map grid

Dr Liz Miller’s book, Mood Mapping – Plot Your Way to Emotional Health, has two main themes:

    1. The Mood Map grid
    2. The Five Keys to Mood

The Mood Map grid is a simple, visual way to understand and record the way you feel.

It can be used to explain why some of us can be convinced we are ‘bipolar’ and how many of us are coming to realise we never were that ‘bipolar’ at all.

If you want to understand your moods or think your bipolar diagnosis may not be right then the Mood Map grid is the place to start in understanding what is going on with your feelings and moods and how to live a life without being so ‘bipolar’.

Marian Moore says, “Mood can change in an instant or gradually over time. Some people are ‘morning people’, others more nocturnal. Some days are better than others. Mapping your mood helps you see when you are at your best, your worst, and even when it might be better just to stay at home!”

Mood Mapping allows us to increase our self-awareness by allowing us to know more about how we feel and gives insights into why we do the things we do. It develops our observing-self, enabling us to see moods or emotions for what they are, and not being caught up and overwhelmed by them.

Why map our moods?

Stress, anxiety, exhaustion, and depression have always been difficult to quantify and many people find it difficult to say which of these they are experiencing. Yet without measuring these, it can be difficult to know whether things are changing much at all.

Music may help you feel better, but how much better? Is quiet meditation more effective for you? Can this effectiveness be measured and described to others? Which foods improve your mood? Without an effective way of measuring mood it is difficult to know what is affecting your mood most.

By knowing and being able to accurately describe our moods we can become better at helping ourselves and finding the help we need when we need it.

Mood Map grid

Mood Map grid

The Mood Map grid as originally developed by Dr Liz Miller:

Mood is said to have two main components:

ENERGY – shown as up and down on the map

POSITIVITY – Essentially how you feel, shown as left and right on the map

The two axes divide the map into four quarters which describe the four basic moods;

  1. Tired (which can include good reflective moods as well as normal exhaustion and abnormal depressive states)
  2. Anxiety
  3. Action
  4. Calm

Moods affect not just how a person feels but also how they behave

For example, a small child runs towards a busy road;

–       a person who is very TIRED may think “How awful, that child may die, I wish I could do something”

–       a person who is already in a mood of high ANXIETY may panic and scream.

–       a person in the ACTION mood – runs to the child and whisks them away from danger.

–       a person who is CALM can think how to avert the danger without unnecessarily alarming people.

In this example the positive moods of ACTION and CALM seem great. The reality is that there are no good or bad moods. There is a time and a place for every type of mood. As we learn from Mood Mapping, it is the ability to change to the mood we need at any particular moment that allows us to be healthiest and work well with those around us.

A Scientific Perspective

Mood most likely comes from the deepest part of the brain, where the sympathetic (flight and fight) and parasympathetic (housekeeping) part of our nervous system join. Thus when we wake up, we immediately become aware of how we feel, and then the rest of the brain can gradually work out why we feel that way, and what we are to do next.

Mood Mapping is a simple technique that is easy to learn and easy to teach.

The first step is to plot your mood at this moment by estimating how much energy you have and putting a mark on the vertical axis.

Plotting on mood map

Plotting on mood map

Then estimate how good or positive they feel and plot that on the horizontal axis. The Mood point is where vertical and horizontal marks on the graph cross.

The Mood Point can be labelled with the time and perhaps a quick note why you feel the way you do. If you feel this is not the right mood for you at this time then maybe think what you have done in the past that has helped you get the mood you want now.

Plot another point later, to see if your choice has been effective.


Thanks to Marian and Liz for allowing me to adapt their article from

This is just the start of Mood Mapping. Next article: The Five Keys to Mood

MILLER, LIZ Dr., (2009), Mood Mapping: Plot your way to emotional health and happiness, pub. London, Rodale

About Roger Smith (in the UK)
Helping you to think about bipolar disorder in different ways so that we can eliminate the disorder and eventually eliminate the need for this diagnosis.

8 Responses to Mood Mapping – Dr Liz Miller – About the Mood Map grid

  1. Pingback: Bipolar diagnosis can be eliminated – updated April 2013 | Rethinking Bipolar

  2. Pingback: You did not have bipolar disorder after all #bipolarlabel #bipolardiagnosis | Rethinking Bipolar

  3. I am impressed with your resiliency and positivity you bring to people with bipolar disorder. Truly you own life experiences demonstrate a positive and learned knowledge of this mental disorder. I can relate to your perseverance, because, I have learned how to control my own triggers that had lead me to negative emotional deterioration. “Mood Mapping” is a forceful and very positive tool for all who struggle with the negativity that surrounds triggers of bipolar disorder.

    A little over 2 years ago, I needed to express my changes toward “positivity” in my life. I wrote : Power of Positivity – For Bipolar and Anyone Else”. A little about Me:

    I am a retired Optometrist for 15 years, who specialized in developmental and behavioral vision for more than 33 years. I am happily married to a lovely lady, 49 years and counting. At 71, I have the knowledge and experience when it comes to dealing with Bipolar Disorder. My mission is to help others in achieving emotional stability without episodes. I’ve lived over 55 years with Bipolar 1 Disorder. For the first 25 years, I dealt with over 5 episodes. Since then, I have transformed my life by changing my thoughts and committing to a consistent supply of Lithium. I was one of the first to receive Lithium upon FDA approved it in 1971. It has kept me stable for the last 29 years, along with knowing the “Power of Positivity” with bipolar disorder. Anyone who has struggled with mental health issues, and anyone who wonders how they can achieve positive thinking in their life, will benefit from a book I wrote: “Power of Positivity For Bipolar and Anyone Else.” In this book, I share my lifelong struggle with bipolar disorder, and offers ways to manage the disorder with medication, therapy and with the Power of Positivity. It is only when experience is passed on that it becomes a learning tool, and in this case, also a positive force for everyone’s life.

    I would be honored if you could review my book. By using this Free Coupon : KR38E at this link :
    You can scroll down on the left for Kindle or PFD for Computer to read my e-book .

    Thanks for you personal / professional opinion.

    Fred L. Von Gunten, OD


  4. Mark says:

    Hi Dr. Miller,
    I have suffered now for 13 years with some form of depressive disorder.
    I’m glad to have found mood mapping, as it’s so important for me to get better.
    A little about me – Two institutionalisations under the mental health act, and treated like rubbish to say the least.
    I must admit that I have lost all faith in psychiatrists and psychiatry.
    I’m looking forward to reading your book, and hopefully there will be a light at the end of the tunnel for all those suffering with depressive illness and other mental issues.
    My issues started at 17, and unfortunately I never had the opportunity to pursue university due to ill health.
    Depression still continues, but it is a great gift to be able to write, voice and express your experiences.
    I look forward to reading your book and hopefully communicating with you at some point.
    I hope you are keeping as well as is possible.


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