Am I hungry, angry, lonely, or tired? Then I need to HALT immediately and take care of myself.
If I could only have one self care tool in my basket—this would be it. It covers so much and is so easy to remember. Not only does it address physical needs but emotional and spiritual ones too.
I remember life before I came across this acronym. What a mess! Always up and down and sideways. Emotional all over the place. Exhausted. Confused. It is amazing how using HALT has kept me more balanced and I don’t have to self-medicate with a bunch of crap anymore like caffeine, TV, alcohol, temper tantrums, etc.
Here are some things I learned along the way about HALT
I eat meals regularly—about every 2.5 hours. I eat a snack that contains protein, fat, and carbs before bed so that I don’t wake up in the middle of the night with a roaring stomach and a spinning mind.
I acknowledge my wants and needs and do my best to fulfill them myself or find people who have the capacity to do so (no more going to people who can’t give what I ask for and then getting mad because they don’t;).
I call friends who accept and love me just the way I am(no advice givers or critics). I attend 12-Step Meetings to remind me that I am not alone, that I am part of a community, and that I can be of service.
I get to bed at a regular time most nights. I make sure that from the time I go to bed to the time that I get up I have the opportunity to get the amount of sleep I need in one burst—even if I can’t or don’t sleep the whole time. I have set my schedule now where most days I do not have to set an alarm, I have plenty of time to wake naturally.
IN THE MOMENT
This used to manifest toward others with a very short temper. I rarely get to that point anymore—although it is still known to happen. Now, most of the time I am forewarned when I notice that the conversations in my head take on a circular pattern- usually me ranting against someone else. When that happens I must eat. I try to have snacks readily available- fruit and nuts are easy. If I can’t find something healthy I have learned I better go ahead and have something to tide me over until I can.
If I am still angry after I eat or am full then I am angry and need to take appropriate actions. Burning off physical energy through exercise or beating a pillow are safe ways to express anger. I also need to look at the root of my anger—what I am not getting that I want or need? Am I angry about not being able to change something that cannot be changed? Is banging my head against that worth it to me today? Who am I really angry at—someone else or myself? I can talk with a safe friend about my anger to help sort it all out and often if dissipates by just sharing it out loud. Other times I need to go deeper and journal.
Self-pity is my messenger on this one. When I start feeling self-pity or feeling depressed then I know that I need to reach out to a friend, spend time with my cats, go to the park where I can watch the kids and families play, or spend time in nature where I feel my Higher Power’s presence.
I have learned that when I can’t think straight, have trouble making decisions, or am raging about having to do the next thing then I need a nap- and I take one! If I can’t nap in the car, at home, or on the floor of my office (with the door closed) I will take a 5-20 minute deep relaxation in a chair. Zoning out is allowed! I feel so much more refreshed and able to take on the world after a nap or relaxation!
HOW ABOUT YOU?
Consider the following—write it out so you have a visual reminder to help you:
What are simple ways that I can prevent having to get crazy before I HALT?
What are indicators that I need to HALT?
What can I do to HALT more often?