This past Lent, I decided to set aside a food item that’s been a comfort and a go-to item at the end of the day when I want some comfort. I felt the desire to set it aside so that I could take time to ask God if I was avoiding anything deeper. Was this benign comfort item hiding a deeper ache that needed my attention?  Thinking about this one day, I vaguely recalled hearing the acronym “HALT”…something about a checklist to help us pay attention to what’s going on when we’re feeling stressed. So, I did some searching and found more information on it.  Here’s what the acronym stands for:

H – Hungry
A – Angry
L – Lonely
T – Tired

The idea is to check in with yourself when you’re feeling stressed or out of sorts – are you hungry?  Are you angry?  Are you lonely?  Are you tired?  Usually, when I feel restless or want to reach for comfort food or zone out with some mindless TV, I’m actually feeling hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.  When I take that minute to pay attention to what’s going on, I can address the anger, hunger, tiredness, loneliness instead of either engaging in unhealthy habits or things that could become unhealthy if the core issue is consistently pushed aside.  I can use this to rule out and address things that are irrelevant to what’s *really* going on.  Maybe I’m afraid of failing while also feeling tired and hungry.  Addressing my hunger and sleep issues can help me handle the fear better and with a clearer head.  I’ve also found it helpful as I walk home from work feeling stressed and cranky, to slowly and prayerfully breathe deeply as I go through HALT and realize that, yes, I am hungry and tired right now… and once I’ve identified those real physical needs, I’m less likely to misdirect my crabbiness toward my husband when I get home – or at the least, I can communicate to him where I am emotionally and that my crankiness isn’t about him.

How about you?  Are there some helpful tools that you use to identify what the deeper issues might be?