Working Toward Winter Happiness: Week Six

For those new to this project, I notice every year my mood plummets starting in October, bottoming out sometime in late February, and not really fully recovering until sometime in May. That’s over half a year of not feeling my best and frankly that’s not really acceptable. One thing I notice, of course, is that if I have a big trip to somewhere warm in the middle (read: I go to India for a month) I feel great – at least while I’m there. But really, it should not require an expensive trip to stay happy, right? So I made a list of things to do, added some advice from friends and have a constantly evolving list of habits I’m tracking. At the same time since before this project I’ve also been tracking my mood as well on a scale of 1-10. In these entries I rate how well I did at meeting my goals and also how I felt that week. Let’s dive in and see what we’ve got

First let’s start off with a new variable to add to the mix: Day length. Today the day was 10.1 hours long, down from 10.4 hours last week and from 11.7 hours on October first when I started this. The days are noticeably shorter, particularly in the morning – it’s dark when I leave for work now. Temperatures really haven’t started to bother me yet, it’s been unseasonably warm – almost 20 degrees today when I went out for a run.

So onwards to the goals:

Objectives One and Two – Get outdoors and Dress Warmly:

I intend to get outside every day as I think it is good to get some fresh air, walk on the ground and feel the wind. Living in a highrise with everything we need inside it’s not always easy. So for five out of the last six weeks, including this one, I haven’t managed to do this. Lately I’ve been managing six days a week which is passable. I’m always glad when I do but often I don’t remember to get out until after work and by then I’m winding down and it seems overwhelming if I don’t have another reason to go out.

But what I have been good about – or really, based on what I’ve said above – what has been easy for me to manage, is to wear warm clothes. I complain a lot throughout the winter about how horrible it is to feel cold all the time. But I do have merino wool long johns, hats and gloves. There should be no reason to be cold on 90% of the days throughout the winter. Where I do have to be watchful this time of year is the mornings. Often I read the forecast, see that it’ll be 16 degrees as a high for the day and figure I’ll just go without a coat. I don’t notice it’s currently 3 degrees until I step out the door to get the bus. By then it’s too late – I’ll lose 10 minutes taking the elevator back upstairs so I just grin and bear it, grudgingly. But so far this year even on those days I’ve managed to do well.

Objective Three: Running:

I have a fraught relationship with running. I love doing it but sometimes love it so much that I don’t pace myself, injure myself and have to stop. I took a nearly two year break and am doing a couch to 5K plan again. So far so good though I’ve spent over two weeks on week 3, waiting until it felt really comfortable before moving on to week 4’s program today. It was noticeably harder but manageable. Doing it this way has helped me to maintain a good pace as I run for longer.

Objective 3: 3/3 days running = 100%!

Objective 4: Cycling

I targeted two days this week cycling and how embarrassing is this? I couldn’t count to two properly. I counted one of last week’s rides in my calculation for this week and so I only got in one ride this week. I had really meant to do 100% on my physical activity this time around. Sadly I didn’t quite do it.

Objective 4: 1/2 days cycling = 50%

Objective 5: Get more than 6.5 hours sleep

I always intend to go to bed early. I really do, but sometimes I just stay up an extra 30-40 minutes. Often it’s watching one country’s version of Taskmaster or another with Sage so we’re just having too much fun. The result though, is that I didn’t hit the mark with this either.

Objective 5: 5/7 days cycling = 71%

Objective 6: Eat Properly

What does eat properly mean, anyway? This one is far from objective but really I know it when I’m doing it. Am I including vegetables in every meal? Am I not eating seconds just because something is delicious and not because I’m hungry? Then I don’t meet the brief. This week I managed to do fine for most days but one night we had (delicious) pizza, and last night we didn’t just have all you can eat sushi, at work there were celebratory cupcakes. In the back of my mind I wonder how much of “eating properly” as relates to happiness is about eating healthily and how much is about enjoying food. So unlike failing to meet my cycling goal, I’m not sweating the eating goal so much.

Objective 6: 5/7 eating properly = 71%

Average all of these together with equal weight and we get an average score of meeting 79.8% of my goals. Not bad. A respectable passing grade but one I could do better on. And actually one I did better on last week when I was at 81.6% – down 1.8%.

And now the other side of the coin and why I’m doing this: What was my mood like? My average rating this week was 7.57/10 or 75.7% or 0.7% less than last week. And really, I think that’s pretty accurate. I feel this week was slightly less enjoyable than last but marginally so. Kind of like how much less daylight there is. (hmmm!)

I still have a few other things to pull together – some classes to arrange (yoga, Hindi improv comedy, maybe some cooking) and will be joining one of Sage’s free writing group sessions tomorrow. My goal is to have at least one of those figured out next week – and to also nail 100% or better on my two fitness goals. Let’s see if I can do that.

Meanwhile for those following along, here’s the full dataset:

ObjectiveWeek OneWeek 2Week 3Week 4Week 5Week 6
Go Outside71%100%86%86%86%86%
Dress Warmly80%100%100%100%100%100%
>6.5 hours sleep#N/A#N/A43%57%71%71%
Eat Properly#N/A#N/A86%86%71%71%

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