“Oh good! I thought something was wrong with me,” my friend confessed. She had spent the day crying at random times and her emotions were all over the chart.
“Nah, nothing’s wrong with you, it’s just that your body can’t perform optimally under the conditions you set,” I added and shared that it happens to me all the time too, and it’s not easy to recognize on your own.
But I had a secret: HALT.
It’s a cute acronym I picked up from the radio years ago and already it has spared me from several breakdowns. After I shared it with her I thought, “Hey, maybe other people want to know about this too?” It was a duh moment. Although I’ve written self-improvement articles/confessions for 4 years now, I often forget to share the tools that get me through the day-to-day stuff. Other than Thumper’s advice, HALT might be the best tool I’ve found.
What does HALT mean and why does it matter?
If you’re feeling angry, upset, hurt, and can’t figure out why you’re acting out, halt and ask yourself:
It turns out, that day my friend could mark off 3 out of 4. She wasn’t hungry, but she was running on less than 5 hours of sleep, and was angry and lonely after spending a week in quarantine because of possible COVID exposure.
At any given moment we may be affected by one or a combination. Before making big decisions, it’s important to check if we’re behaving rashly because we’re hungry/hangry, furious with the person, feeling neglected, or just plain tired.
If you’re an “I got 4 hours of sleep. I’m Fine” kind of person, *ahem* the CDC recommends adults get AT LEAST 7 HOURS a night. For teens the minimum is 8 hours. Sure, there are some unicorns out there who can get by with less, but for most of us, I hope this is a good wake-up call to get more sleep.
As for checking if we’re hungry, angry, and/or lonely, our bodies speak pretty loudly. If you have a grumbling stomach, short fuse, or if the smallest things bring a waterfall from your eyes, check your HALT.
When I’m struggling with suicidal thoughts, I check my HALT.
When every little thing someone does is like rubbing sandpaper over my face, I check my HALT.
HALTing isn’t just about taking care of our physical health. If you ever have a moment where you wonder if you even know yourself, or are confused as to why something is bothering you more than usual, pause and go over the list. When and what did you last eat? Are you angry at or about something? Feeling lonely? When and for how long did you sleep? Sometimes it’s the most simple things that turn the tide. These things affect our minds and can alter how, what, and why we make choices.
Like the princess and the pea. One tiny thing can ruin the whole day. But before you decide you’re broken or that’s “just how you are,” try to eat a sandwich, get some rest, and see if you feel a change.
If not, there might be something more going on—perhaps some unresolved conflict or guilt? But if HALT does help, then I hope you’ll carry it with you and share your “secret” when you find another person who needs it.
Karianne is the founder of Windmill Ways. She plays the cello professionally and currently works as an Art Director for a charity. Because she loves animated shows and movies, she studies 3D animation and graduated with a BFA with the unfortunate class of 2020. Her dream vacation would be just staying home, but "home" being a glamorous cabin somewhere in the mountains surrounded by forest.
Favorite band: Lord Huron
Favorite book: This Present Darkness
Favorite quote: "Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail." Proverbs 19:20-21 (NLT)
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