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Addicts Aren’t the Only Ones Who Can H.A.L.T. a Bad Day

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Sometimes the simplest ideas are among the best ones. From addictions therapy and 12-step programs comes the idea of H.A.L.T. (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired).

Just like Alexander in the classic children’s book, we too can experience a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. We can wake up in a bad mood and let it carry us through—or we can H.A.L.T.

Am I hungry? For gosh sakes eat something! While you’re at it, eat something high in proteins or complex carbohydrates, so that you don’t spike your sugars.

Am I angry? If you’re angry, you need to find a way to feel it safely without attacking someone else or turning your anger on yourself. Tell the person how you feel (calmly!!!). Write an email full of venom (and delete it!!!). Go kick a soccer ball around in the park, or sing at the top of your lungs in the car along with a really mean or raunchy song. Or put all that anger into something productive, if you have the ability to do something about it. Write a letter to the editor, complain to customer service, set limits with those who are walking all over you.

Am I lonely? Call a friend or a partner or a relative and chat for a minute. Go people-watching in a favorite public place. Do a random act of kindness for a stranger. Watch a movie that makes you cry, while downing Ben and Jerry’s and wallowing for a couple of hours.

Am I tired? Use your break at work. Close your eyes for 15 minutes. Reorganize your day and put off something that can wait until later. Delegate something and go take a nap. Go to bed a half hour earlier at night, and don’t drink caffeine after noon.

These tips won’t suddenly bring rainbows and unicorns into your day, but if you H.A.L.T. every time you are feeling down, and address your hunger, your anger, your loneliness, or your fatigue, you will nip most major problems in the bud and have a much better day.

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About Maureen O'Danu

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