“HALT. Don’t get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired… When I feel stressed, I’ll stop to check whether my basic needs are being met.” Hope For Today
I’ve heard, spoken and used this acronym thousands of times since coming into our rooms. But it never gets old. Chances are pretty good that when I behave poorly, when I’m frustrated, or when I’m on the pity-pot, I haven’t been talking care of one of these things.
Hunger is easy, I just eat. But eating healthy is important, because when I do, it leaves me with more energy and feeling self-esteem about the choice I made of what I put into my body. It shows me that I love my whole body more than I love just my tastebuds. And usually I can find a fair trade off if I’m not being lazy when I eat.
Anger is a bit tougher. When it’s towards others I can always do a mini-4th step, listing who I’m angry at, what they did, why it made me angry, what feelings & fears it brings up, what’s my part, and most importantly for me, how I would like to behave if it happens again. That’s where the learning happens and I begin to evolve into the person I aspire to continue growing up to be. Then, if I see the need, and I haven’t done so already, I make amends (usually on the phone if I’m not near the person at that time).
If the anger is towards me, it’s a bit trickier. Hiwever, I use the same mini-4th step and identify the person I’m angry at as me. In this case, I make amends by writing a letter to me and putting it in an envelope. I call this a love letter (see May 28th in Itanly Vanzant’s Until Today), and I start it out with a heartfelt apology to myself.
Loneliness, for me, comes from expectations and isolation from others. When I expect relationships to go my way, or to last forever, I set myself up for feeling lonely. Life doesn’t last forever and neither does anything else. If I’m to expect anything about relationships with others it’s much more reasonable for me to expect them to, at some point, not go as expected and quite possible end. That way I can celebrate every moment I am in the relationship and those moments when it’s going well. In that way, even if it does come to an end, I can think lovingly on all the wonderful times I had, rather than dwelling on the difficult ones or the fact that it’s not here anymore.
I’m very lucky to have the program. Because of it, when I find myself lonely and isolating, all I need to do is get to a meeting. If I’m still lonely I just go to another one, making sure I show up early and talk with others. I also call people on my lifeline, others in the program, asking them how they are doing rather than talking about my problems. This takes me out of lonliness and my feelings of isolation, getting me back into the flow of life and people.
Tired. Again I’m lucky. I usually get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night, with no need to wake up even to use the restroom. I can’t say that’s true for lots of my friends. Many struggle to get and stay asleep. Many take sleeping aids, some natural, some prescribed. Lack of sleep, in my opinion, is the number one cause of misery, depression and difficulties in the life of many. Because as a publisher I have periodic deadlines, I often get much less than 8 hours for days on end, so I am very familiar with the consequences of lack of sleep. The methods I use to help are (1) continuing to do my daily rituals, (2) cat naps, (3) meditation breaks in the day, and (4) lots of caffeine (I admit it). I don’t drink coffee because it’s makes me jittery so my caffeine vices are chai tea lattes at Starbucks, Harney & Sons Cinnamon Spice Tea with honey and cream, and Dove dark chocolate. I’m not recommending caffeine as a permanent (or even healthy temporary) solution to sleep deprivation, just sharing how I deal with having a ton of work to get through when I’m exhausted. The point is, with regard to lack of sleep, when we are living life tired, we cannot possibly be loving life to the full extent possible, so it’s important to resolve sleep issues in life to the point where we feel well rested each day.
I might add here that I often put in one more item to watch for in our quest for the maximum enjoyment of life. You could say that I check my HALTS. And that last one stands for “sick”. If I am sick in any manner, it’s important that I pay attention to it. Whether it be a toothache I’ve been putting off dealing with, a cold I haven’t had time to rest for, or serious emotional issues I haven’t been working on closely to resolve with my sponsor or therapist. When I put off taking care of myself physically, I will continue to suffer. The remedy is getting into action to reduce the symptoms and restore balance to my life. And that’s what I strive for everyday. ILML!