The Ultimate Recovery Self-Care Tool: H.A.L.T.
It’s National Nutrition Month, and we’re talking about H.A.L.T. (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired). If you’re in recovery, you’re probably very familiar with this acronym but it’s one of those things that we learn about, and it’s always in the back of our minds, but we don’t put it into practice as much as we could. So, today we’re talking through what each step is, why it’s a vital relapse prevention tool, and how to check in with yourself to make sure you’re on the right track.
Prioritizing Healthy Eating in Recovery
H = Hungry
I’m not a nice person to be around when I’m hungry. I can’t tell you how many times a week I find myself apologizing for things I said to people in a state of intense hunger or reduced blood-sugar levels. We’re all a little guilty of getting “hangry” from time to time.I don't know how many times I've apologized to somebody, like 'I'm sorry. I was just really hungry. I was hangry'. Click To Tweet
In recovery, especially early on, you’re still adjusting to a busy schedule. You’re going to work, group, meetings, and hanging out with friends or family. In this transitional period of your life, you’re bound to forget to eat or not prioritize meals. However, eating balanced meals and snacks can help in dealing with the cravings and mood swings which are synonymous with early recovery.
So what’s a sober guy or gal to do?
Plan ahead. Whether that’s taking the time in the morning to throw something together or if you’re one of those people who finds it easier to do meal prep on Sundays – do that. If you’re a snacker, make sure to keep healthy alternatives to the junk foods you usually reach for when hunger suddenly attacks. Find what works for you and do that.
Check In With Your Emotions
A = Angry
Anger is a normal feeling or reaction to life. However, it’s an emotion that we may not have ever learned how to process or express effectively or healthily. Deb shared this cool way to check in with your feelings and logically process them. It’s called Detect, Debate, Discriminate, and it works to help you understand how your emotions work and what you can do when you feel like lashing out.
We talked a bit about anger and how holding onto it can be toxic in Episode 5: How to Truly Help Your Loved One (And Yourself) Recover.
Meditation, mantras, and breathing exercises are all great ways assuage feelings of anger. We also talked about how using technology can help you work through negativity as well as some options that we are using and loving right now. (Headspace, Calm)
And of course, writing in a journal or diary is also a good, healthy outlet for expressing one’s feelings if you don’t feel comfortable sharing them out loud. We talked about that as well as a few options you can try – especially if you don’t consider yourself a “writer.” (The Five Minute Journal, Live Journal)
One is the Loneliest Number
L = Lonely
Isolation is one the most telling signs of a potential relapse. It’s what you do in your active addiction so when you start pushing people away; it’s important to look at why. We’ve all heard that it’s important to have a strong support system in recovery. If you don’t have one, your recovery doesn’t stand a chance, to put it bluntly.
A lot of people are lucky to have that sense of support through family and friends but if you don’t have that – there are so many other sources within the recovery community that you can connect with and build your own recovery family or tribe.
There are tons of other people who are also on the lookout for the same type of support, whether it’s to seek for themselves or to be a pillar of support for someone else. There is this incredible community just waiting for you to join in and lean on them.
So, how do you get started?
Friends, family, fellow recovering addicts, and the like are all here to support you. And if you don’t have a strong support system or you feel like it could be better – make that a priority. Fill your life with people who are always going to have your back.
Go out and meet people – your people. Get to a meeting (find some great aa/na meetings in your area here). The recovery community is bursting with people who come from all walks of life – you’re bound to find someone (or even a few people) with whom you will gel.
Know your resources. Keep a list handy for those hard days when you just need someone to talk to. Speaking of, we love this checklist from the University of Colorado Wellness Center. (Everything is Awful, and I’m Not Okay: Questions to Ask Yourself Before Giving Up on Yourself)
Get Your Beauty Sleep
T = Tired
Everyone is working 40+ hours a week, and on top of that having a social life, family, meetings, and making your recovery a priority – it’s enough to exhaust the heck out of anyone. There is a danger of lacking proper sleep. We talked about the effects of insomnia and lack of sleep over on the blog earlier this month. When you’re tired and feeling a sense of exhaustion or burn out, no matter what you’re doing, it’s important to find a way to let yourself take a break.
If you’re sitting in front of a computer for eight hours a day, get up and step away from the screen for two minutes. Walk around. Studies have shown that blue light – the light that comes from the screen on your phone or your computer hurts your ability to fall asleep. It also lowers your melatonin production. If you’re staring at your computer all day then going home and staring at your phone – or even watching T.V. – that is going to affect you.
We’re all guilty of falling asleep with our phones in our hand. We have to make less screen time a priority – cut the cord. Try this: turn off your screens, play some soothing music or white noise, and get some good uninterrupted sleep. Pushing yourself to go when you need to rest will only hurt your recovery in the long run.
In conclusion, each part of the acronym works and leans on each other. They are all related and overlap each other. For example, when you don’t sleep you’re not going to make healthy decisions like eating well, and when you’re not eating well you won’t feel great, and your emotions aren’t regulated. When you don’t feel great, you tend to isolate, and it goes on and on.
Self-care starts with H.A.L.T.
It seems like a lot right now, and it won’t always be perfectly balanced. One day you will have it figured out, and that just comes from practice.