100 Days of Data

Early this year, shortly after New Years, I decided to track as much information as I could on myself for a few months to see if it may offer any insight into how I could improve my life (and particularly my happiness levels.) My Masters in Psychology focused on research design and methodology so data is kind of my thing. I shot this short video yesterday giving a brief intro to my '100 Days of Data' Project and I also wanted to take a moment and say thank you to everyone who was so kind to me in my original video!  

http://youtu.be/5kh_wa8JoeI

 

The gist of my project was to record as many variables of data that I thought could be impacting my overall mood. I started off with buying a small notebook from Target and kept it by my bed and each night I would record all the information. Every day I would write the following:

- Calories Consumed: Yes this is like a built-in Food Journal. Keeps you accountable and helps you to start learning how many calories are in the items you eat every day!

- Hours Slept

- How much water I drank

- Exercise activity and duration

- What my mood was on a scale of 1-10 for each of the following: Happiness, Sad, Anxiety, and Energy. Keep in mind that you can score a 0 on both Happiness and Sadness. Being low on happiness doesn't necessarily mean you are high on sadness!

- Any other relevant information; if I started a new vitamin, met up with friends after work, meditated, had a particularly stressful event...

{Yes I would write down what I wore or else I'd end up wearing the exact same outfit every day to class and not even realize it!}

I didn't know how long I would keep this up for but I ended up going to 100 days. You really wouldn't be able to extract any meaningful information from it if you did it for less than a month. After the 100 days were up I got some old school graphing paper and graphed each of my 4 emotions. This is an example of what the first 10 days for Happiness may look like (I just used PowerPoint for this):

So once I had all 100 days plotted on the graph I looked to see where my Happiness was particularly high or low. Then I'd go back to the journal and see if I could find any trends that could explain the Happy Highs. I found 2 somewhat surprising results.

1. As I mentioned in the video the data confirmed I love peanut butter. If you take a look at just the one sample day I posted I eat a ton of veggies, complex carbs and fruits. Great overall but I realized from this experiment that I wasn't getting nearly enough Fat as I should in my diet. So, every time I had a 'eat PB out of the jar' kind of day my Happiness and Energy level increased!

2. I was unaware how critical it was for me to do something social on a regular basis. I'm a creature of comfort (still am) and it's sometimes hard for me to break out of my routine or put myself out there but, when I did, my mood would increase not only that day but for days after. Just hanging out with a friend for coffee was enough to keep my spirits up and anxiety lower for at least 1-2 days. Talk about cheap therapy!

There were other correlations I found but those were the two that I really attempted to change in my life after. I think I've done a pretty good job at it and waddya know - I'm happier now than I was a year ago!

If anyone has any questions at all about starting this please let me know! I'm a teacher, I love to help, it's what I do.

Has anyone else ever done a 'self study'? What do you think is the biggest contributing factor to your daily happiness levels?