Self-care is an important component of our personal wellbeing. And several years ago, I learned about a valuable and easy to use tool for helping to monitor how I am doing. This tool uses the acronym HALT which stands for: Hungry – Angry – Lonely – Tired.
The acronym highlights that when we experience one of these states, we are more likely to make poor decisions, violate boundaries, or do something that we will regret later. Mental Health Month is a great time for us to reflect on how well we are doing related to these states.
Hungry – Are you eating regularly? Are you eating a variety of foods that support good nutrition? Are you limiting the amount of less healthy food you are eating?
Angry – Are you feeling angry right now? Are you responding to the current situation from a place of anger?
Lonely – Are you feeling alone and/or isolated? Are you connecting regularly with family and/or friends?
Tired – Are you getting enough sleep? Are you taking breaks during the day to refresh and refocus on what you are working on?
Each of us will experience positive and negative responses on these questions, so it is important to reflect on what the response means for us. We might answer that we are hungry right now, and we are sitting down for a meal, so it is not a concern. Later we might answer that we are hungry right now, and we realize that the hunger is distracting us during a critical meeting, so it is a concern.
Spending time monitoring how we are doing with HALT can help us reduce these states which make us vulnerable to making poor decisions and violating boundaries. This monitoring can be done spontaneously before an important meeting or Zoom call. Or this monitoring can be part of an ongoing routine to improve your personal wellbeing.
To help me remember to regularly monitor these states I have scheduled reminders that appear as a HALT meeting on my calendar. These HALT meetings provide intentional times and space to check in with myself and reflect on how I am experiencing each of these states. I also monitor how I am doing relative to HALT before planned phone calls and meetings.
These concepts of self-care in HALT can be seen in Jesus’ ministry when he would spend time in prayer, eating, resting, and gathering with others. Through maintaining self-care, we too can care for ourselves so that we are able to care for others.
As you face the challenges of the week to come, may you be well fed, at peace, surrounded by support, and well rested!
Also, be sure to use the resources from the Presbyterian Church (USA) about Mental Health Month available at:
Grace and peace, Bill Rev. William "Bill" McLean, II Presbyter for Congregational Care Presbytery of Southeastern Illinois