HALT! Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired?
Your worrying thoughts may get the best of you if are hungry, angry, lonely or tired.
This week I am training as a Mindfulness teacher for teenagers, and later on will qualify to teach primary school kids. The takeaway tidbit I have learned so far is this easy to remember acronym: HALT – Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.
When you feel hungry, angry, lonely or tired, worry or ruminating thoughts can be worse. These states of mind and body can give worrying thoughts fertile ground.
It was only about a week ago that I experienced this myself. I was sitting at the computer late at night – that’s 10.30pm for me, as I usually go to bed at 9.30pm and rise early. I was writing a story for another website’s blog. I was given a very short deadline and agreed I would try to meet it as they needed it ASAP – I said okay, but next time I would need more notice.
I became aware of thoughts running around my head about stuff going on in my life. Ruminating about things from the past, worrying about the future. The thoughts were taking me down the black hole of negative thinking, even catastrophising (worst case scenarios, the kind that give you anxiety and tension in the body). I saw this happening and decided to listen to my body – I heard “you are tired, go to bed”. It was clear to me that my tiredness was providing a platform for this kind of thinking and that going to bed would be the answer. The next morning I awoke feeling fresh and fine.
All humans are expert worriers and ruminators. When we think about the past we worry, when we think about the future we feel anxious. When we are in the present moment we are experiencing life, accepting what is.
JUST REMEMBER THIS: YOU ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS!
Training your mind through a regular Mindfulness practice is like going to the gym – the muscle that helps you reign in thoughts will get stronger. The awareness of the thought is the key point at which you can choose to respond in a way that you want, rather than reacting from past conditioning. A regular practice of Mindfulness will help you to do this more often and more easily – but it takes practice to build this muscle.
Besides practising Mindfulness, making sure you have adequate self-care is key:
Eating well and regularly: Following whatever diet suits your body, make sure you have adequate meals and snacks to avoid those “hangry” moments. Eating when you are hungry, and eating mindfully – savour every bite, to avoid over-eating, and so that you really register that you have eaten and enjoyed your meal 100%. Perhaps carry some almonds for those times when you can’t have a meal but need sustenance.
Taking care of your emotional self: If you are going through an emotional time, be kind to yourself. Do things that offer nourishment and self-care, such as yoga or meditation. Child’s Pose is an excellent yoga pose for calming, especially when you are angry or frustrated.
Getting enough sleep: I like the Ayurveda rule of sleep before 10pm and wake before 7am – I feel rested and it’s easy to fall asleep and wake. If you find it hard getting to sleep, try listening to a Yoga Nidra or a body scan (Mindfulness in Schools, with who I am training provide its “beditation” as a free download).
Balance your work life with a social life: People who work long hours and who don’t balance their work life with a social life or nourishing activities are likely to encounter exhaustion, which can lead to depression.
Finding Peace in a Frantic World is an excellent book which really identifies how the mind works and how we can train it through Mindfulness practice. It also comes with a CD offering 8 guided Mindfulness meditation tracks.
Molly Furzer has been practising yoga since 1999 and teaching since 2007. She teaches Kids & Family Yoga and Laughter Wellness.