Many years ago a very wise person taught me a trick:
Remember the word “H.A.L.T.” and don’t ever get yourself too “Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired.”
I have applied that to my life and it works, so I thought why not instill that in my children’s minds, too?
Hunger is not a game. When I am hungry, I am not pleasant to be around. I get anxious and “snappish” at those around me. In fact, my family has learned to always keep a pack of crackers on hand when they travel with me.
I may be hypoglycemic. It may actually be something physical, but when I get hungry, I am not my best self. “Feed the beast” is often heard at our household, especially on long car outings!
Anger is hard to control. Counting to ten does not work for me. As I have grown older, I find myself less angry, but during my children’s growing up years, they could make me angry — or as what my daughter calls “Nun Doll Angry.” That is the standard by which my kids judge my anger.
Ok, here is the story.
I worked at a Catholic School and began collecting nun dolls. Someone gave me a precious nun doll china ornament. I loved it and I loved the person who gave it to me. My second grade daughter wanted to take it to school for show-and-tell. I knew better, but she begged so I gave in against my better judgment.
I packed it carefully, put it in a box and sent it off with her with very careful instructions: DO NOT BREAK THIS!
She was in the second grade. You know what happened next.
It got broken. As she got in the car that afternoon, she showed me the pitiful remains. I exploded! Thus “Nun Doll Mad” was born.
When I am angry, I am not at my best. Thankfully, I have found ways since then to diffuse my anger, but remembering the look on my precious daughter’s face as I unloaded on her reminded me to get a grip on my anger– and still does to this day.
Pain is always our best teacher.
As the song says: ”One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever find…”
Lonely is hard to recognize though. I cannot be my best when I isolate myself or when I feel misunderstood even when I am surrounded by friends and family.
When I isolate myself from the world and feel like staying in bed and pulling the covers up around my head or even staying glued to episode after episode of The Real Housewives, it’s not good for me. Lonely is hard to recognize as a beast that affects our well-being.
Getting out and volunteering on a project is the best way for me to get over my loneliness.
I need sleep. Not a lot of sleep, but I need sleep.
High school and college kids need sleep too. But most teens and college kids are chronically sleep-deprived. Sleep is a physical renewal and everyone needs it, especially our kids. It is the best and cheapest medicine around.
I am not at my best when I am exhausted and tired.
And Steve added an “s” onto HALT.
Stress is a killer—literally and emotionally. When we have deadlines, projects, family conflict—everyday life, stress is our roommate.
I am not at my best when stress over takes my life. I can multitask with the best of them, but what toll is it taking on me? Staying in balance is vitally important to my well-being and the well-being of my family.
H.A.L.T.S. – I have to remember it to maintain a balanced life. My children tend to watch and learn from what I do, not what I say. If I can learn to apply HALTS to my life, then my kids do the same. Our children need to remember it when life starts to close in on them or when they have too many exams to study for, too many essays due or they have been up too many nights partying.
Teach your children during the high school years to identify the emotion or physical feeling they are experiencing. Sometimes this is hard to do, especially if we don’t slow down.
So when I feel bad, I use this checklist to determine the reason. Once I’m aware of why I’m feeling bad, I can do something about it.
Eat, calm down, phone a friend, sleep, manage our stress level… all simple things that can be done if we make HALTS a part of our lives.
Then we can be our best selves!