Your Mind On Data: Self Tracking

Lasercut of Upset Stomach by Laurie Frick

Two weeks ago I attended the conference in Amsterdam  of a new movement in healthcare called “Quantified Self” whose logo is  “Self Knowledge Through Numbers.” It’s a provocative notion — that we can take control of our health care by tracking data on a daily basis, and analyzing that data over a period of time in order to make adjustments and figure out ourselves what is working, and what isn’t.

I was most interested in the  presentations around behavior modification and “mood tracking.” As a hypnotherapist,  my work  is more in keeping with healing traditions that bring unquantifiable but real awareness of unconscious and intuitive insight to behavioral change. And yet, I was struck with the possibility that data-tracking (although it might not be useful to everyone) gives people access to a similar kind of expanded awareness, although through a different channel.

I co-presented a session with my partner Richard Ryan who is obsessively tracking his insomnia with a Zeo, while at the same time using hypnotherapy and acupuncture. My question for this movement is: What makes the change? Is it the data, or the fact that tracking interrupts a habitual pattern? Or the fascinating simultaneity of the two, in rare collaboration and synergy.

Here are a few resources in case any of you are interested in experimenting with self-tracking.

I’ve been experimenting with  Moodscope and Moodjam, two sites that track fluctuations in mood over time. Moodscope allows you to  write a few sentences about what influences are contributing to a particular mood. It’s a great way to track mental strategies like self-hypnosis or EFT. Moodjam gives you a beautiful, color-coded chart. For a beautiful example of data in action, check out visual artist Laurie Frick who synthesizes art, neuroscience, and moodjam data.

The health-care system is so demoralizing, but CureTogether is a really great site that puts symptoms and diagnosis in perspective and allows you to be pro-active in relation to your own health — in part because you are able to see your condition in relation to other people who are suffering from the same set of symptoms.

If you’re interested in all this there are QS meetups all over the world where people are presenting very creative and innovative approaches to self-tracking (not all are tech-centric.)

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