It’s time for another quick update on my personal happiness. Welcome to the monthly happiness report of September 2018!
I’ve been struggling quite a bit these last couple of weeks due to a number of negative happiness factors that entered my life. Unfortunately, this has resulted in quite a bit of stress, anxiety and tiredness. I wrote about it in my last happiness report and will have to cover it again this month. In September, I (again) struggled a lot with an exhausted, burned-out feeling. It also resulted in a brief battle with insomnia…
Luckily there were still a lot of good things going on. The biggest positive of September was that I started traveling through Vietnam with my girlfriend on a 3-week backpacking holiday!
(It’s also the reason why this update is a little late! I just arrived back home from this trip).
So that’ what this Monthly Happiness Report is about: insomnia and feeling exhausted
Let’s see how happy I was in September 2018.
My happiness declined a bit again. Shit.
Even though September had plenty of good things going on, my happiness was still negatively impacted by a couple of annoying factors.
Let’s see what my happiness ratings looked like in September!
The chart below visualizes exactly what my happiness ratings looked like throughout this month. Like always, I have sprinkled some comments to this chart to add some much-needed context.
I want to go ahead and split this month into 2 sections. The first section consisted of the first 21 days, which I spent in the Netherlands. The remainder of the month was spent in Vietnam as part of a backpacking holiday with my girlfriend.
I will focus only on the first 21 days in this update. I think the trip to Vietnam deserves its own post. 😉
The first 21 days of the month were a mixture of ups and downs. It started with a rough patch, as the tiredness and stress of August continued in September.
My work continued to be busy, I still felt anxious and tired and to top it off, I couldn’t sleep at night.
These days were alternated with a couple of great days, which I got to spend with some friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time.
Anyway, before I dive into the details, I want to show you the complete set of happiness data that I tracked in September.
The table below shows all the happiness factors that influenced my happiness in September 2018.
I want to highlight some factors that had the biggest influence on my happiness in these first 21 days of the month.
The first one that I want to discuss is my brief battle with insomnia.
Instead of trying to explain to you what my brief battle with insomnia meant to me, I’ll instead show you what I wrote about it in my happiness tracking journal. I wrote the following in my journal on the 3rd of September:
I’m in trouble. I’ve got a sleeping disorder. Or I don’t know what the fuck it is. Maybe I’m burned out, maybe it’s stress, maybe something else, or maybe I’m just being a baby?! Either way, I can’t sleep. Just like yesterday.
I was up untill 02:00 last night, and today sucked as a result. I was extremely tired. Thank God I only had to attend a first-aid course today, which meant I only had to leave at 08:30.
But oh my God, this course suuucked the life out of me. I was too tired and got bad headaches after a while. Luckily it was a pretty short course, which meant I was back home at 16:30. In good news: my new car runs like a top. I can hopefully keep this car in one piece for a long time. Spent an hour at home powernapping, untill my girlfriend got back and woke me up. Spent the rest of the night relaxing, watching a series, snacking and walking together. I love these quiet nights with my girlfriend.
I was back in bed at 22:00, to catch up on lost sleep…
But here I am, still awake. It’s 02:00 again. Fucking hell.
I keep having a million thoughts rushing through my head, and I cannot stop it for the life of me. I tried meditating with headspace, tried focusing on my breathing, and tried focusing on sounds, but my thoughts keep raging on in my head. What am I thinking about? Well, my website, my website, my website (I don’t think this is healthy), but also my work: things I still need to do, persons I need to contact, work I need to finish for others. I’m also stressing about Vietnam, cause there’s still a mountain of shit that needs to be sorted. Anyway, all these things are rushing through my head, and I can’t let it go.
So I decided to get out of bed, and watched a couple of episodes of The Office and took 2 sleeping pills of melatonin. I tried going to sleep again at 23:30, but the same thing happened again. I just couldn’t fucking sleep. I also noticed that I saw flashing lights in my mind when I had my eyes closed. Like someone was using a stroboscope in the bedroom, but only visible to my right eye. Super weird and stressful.
So I got out of bed yet again and decided to just take a long walk. I walked all the way to the center of the city and back, a total of 5 km… People were still out and partying, and I was strolling past them like a zombie.
Anyway, I’m back in bed now, and gonna give it another go. Wish me luck.
Walking through the streets in the middle of the night like a zombie
I hope this journal entry didn’t bore you to death.
You can probably understand how frustrating this insomnia was to me. I knew I needed my sleep, and I wanted nothing else but to sleep, so it was just insanely frustrating to lie awake in the middle of the night.
And it had a pretty bad negative influence on my happiness…
What can I learn from this?
I need to take things easier.
I try to push myself to the limit, both at work and in my personal life. I am a person that vigorously sets goals and targets, and I believe that I am now experiencing the dark side-effect of this habit.
Sure, setting goals is good for productivity, but these goals are also extra stressors, especially if you can’t reach them all. Back in September, these things all kept me up at night. And there were quite a lot of extra stressors:
Personal stuff: This website, and how I want to grow it into something much bigger. Getting back to my running fitness of before, and sign up for my 5th marathon. Planning a 3-week backpacking holiday to Vietnam. Spending enough time with my friends and family.
Work-related stuff: Deadlines, commitments to colleagues, an increasing workload and shrinking project teams.
I am currently trying to trim this stuff as much as possible, as I now know how easily these extra stressors can get to my head. I would much rather miss a personal target or two in order to have a peaceful night of sleep. Especially since nobody but myself cares about 90% of these personal targets…
Anyway, I don’t want this happiness update to be primarily about my restless nights and my seemingly burned-out start of the month.
I want to also talk about the good stuff that happened in September!
Finally running another half marathon!
I finally ran another long-distance race in September!
Back in December 2017, I had to stop running long-distances altogether due to a nasty injury. It meant I had to cancel my plans to run my 5th marathon.
It took me much longer than I planned, but I finally ran another long-distance race. And it was great!
I didn’t really have any other goal besides finishing (I didn’t want these extra stressors in my head), so I just took it easy and enjoyed the wonderful course of the race.
The last 3 kilometers were pretty heavy on my legs, but I managed to squeeze out a small sprint at the end to finish in 1 hour and 49 minutes.
It was far from my fastest HM time, but I was already happy that I got to finish the race in one piece.
The first 21 days of September were over pretty quickly, and that’s when the second part of the month started.
Traveling through Ha Giang, Vietnam
The start of our backpacking holiday through Vietnam
My girlfriend and I had been looking forward to this backpacking holiday for a looooong time.
We had carefully planned our 3 week holiday to Vietnam and were ready to go. We were going to fly to Ho Chi Minh City, travel our way up via Mui Ne, Dalat, Hoi An, Hue, Dong Hoi, Ninh Binh, Ha Long Bay, Ha Giang, and Hanoi. It was going to be a JAM-PACKED holiday, and we were more than ready to go.
I am probably going to cover the details of this amazing trip in a separate post (just like I did when my girlfriend and I went on an epic road trip through Norway a year ago).
Let’s have a look at the factors that positively influenced my happiness!
Positive happiness factors
The chart below shows all the positive happiness factors of September 2018.
Just like last month, my relationship was the biggest positive happiness factor of September. Spending time with my girlfriend continues to make me happy, especially at times when other happiness factors are missing.
When I spent a dreadful and exhausting day in a boring first-aid course, I at least got to relax with my girlfriend. These moments really elevate my happiness, and I’m super grateful for that.
This month would’ve been a lot more shitty if I didn’t have that.
I also spent a healthy amount of time with my friends and family, which always has a great influence on my happiness.
And it’s good to see that running is finally back as one of my happiness factors. Finishing this half marathon was amazing, and I hope that my body can keep this up! Maybe, just maybe, I’ll finally get to run this 5th marathon of mine at the start of 2019?
Negative happiness factors
The chart below shows all the negative happiness factors of September.
The negative happiness factors that bugged me in September can all be traced back to my feeling of being burned-out and insomnia.
Feeling agitated, tired and stress were all a direct result of the anxiety and restlessness that I had built up in my mind.
It’s more clear to me than ever that I need to take things slow for a while.
I hope I can actively increase my happiness by doing so, and maybe I’ll be able to end 2018 with a couple of great months!
I hope these posts give you a general idea of what tracking happiness means to me. Because I’m tracking my happiness ratings and factors every single day, I am fully aware of what I need to do in order to become as happy as I can be. With that said, I hope I can somehow inspire you to also start tracking your happiness. 🙂
If you have any questions about anything, please let me know in the comments below, and I’ll be happy to answer you!
Founder of Tracking Happiness and lives in the Netherlands. Ran 5 marathons, with one of them in under 4 hours (3:59:58 to be exact). Data junkie and happiness tracker for over 7 years.