H.A.L.T.S - getting to know how to take better care of you.
Whether coping with anxiety, depression, or life transitions something that seems to be placed fairly low on our list of priorities is our willingness, motivation, and action in taking care of our person; “me”, “I”, “self”.
Stress is indeed an inevitable part of life. We need a bit of it to drive us and move us towards something; a goal, a dream, a belief, a task. Stress lets us know that something is meaningful and worth the worry. There is a certain degree each individual needs to perform at their optimal level. However, like everything in the world, you can’t have too much of anything. We need balance, and so, once past that optimal amount of stress that we can mentally, emotionally, and physiologically handle, we become exhausted.
Our tolerance for minor to major things in life is stifled and muted. Our vitality starts to fade, our hope and purpose along with it. Depression and unhealthy anxiety at this point becomes inevitable. Work, family, love, and just doing for others fade as well, and our capacity to be ourselves lags. After that follows guilt and shame and down the rabbit hole we go.
So where do we start?
Such a big question and common question in the quest to improve our mental and physical health. There are websites, advertisements, programs, regimens, games, TV shows, etc. that depicts ways for which we can improve the self. Millions upon millions of methods. Sometimes this is all so overwhelming and one dimensional that we, “me”, gets lost in translation.
Here is something that I use with my clients as a way to become more aware, more mindful, and more practical towards relieving stress, de-escalating tension, and increasing tolerance. It is a way of forming a picture of yourself that takes into consideration all aspects of what it means to have good self-care.
Here’s the trick; you need to do some self-exploration and become a detective in your own life, making self-observations. So have a gander at the below acronym for this process and spend some time getting to know how to take care of you.
It signifies taking the time to stop and evaluate your needs so you can move forward with stability and true interpersonal growth.
Not only to evaluate our eating habits and feed oneself. To evaluate in the moment when we are past that optimal stress zone and tolerance is low whether we are in need of nutrients. This can be anything from food, to vitamins, to medication.
Evaluation of what we are feeling, what is underlying anger and tension. If we are sad, what is it we need to help walk through and resolve that sadness. To care for both our desirable and undesirable emotions for indeed we are human and require them all to have a sense of purpose in life.
Asking ourselves who we have as supports and resources. Do we need to develop this area? Do we access these supports when we are in need? Do I need to share or talk to someone? Do I just need to have someone close by the cares? Do I need a hug? (yes, cheesy but realistic).
How is your sleep? Are you experiencing sleepless nights of worrying? Are you having nightmares or awakenings where getting back to bed is difficult? How is the quality of the sleep you have? Are you rested in the morning or feel that you haven’t gotten enough sleep and need a nap or feel the need for one? Either way here is where I may refer my client for being evaluated by their doctor for medical issues affect level of energy or inability to sleep or sleep well. We may look at sleep hygiene and cognitive processes around bed time. Either way, sleep is the time where our body rejuvenates itself and is utmost detrimental to tolerance and self-care.
There is such thing as good anxiety and bad anxiety. Good anxiety helps us feel pumped up for a game or a performance. It lets us know when there is danger, and it tells us that something matters to us in some way. Bad anxiety is when we find ourselves making unrealistic future predictions for which we have no crystal ball for. This acronym reminds us to check our thinking. To evaluate our fear and the truth attached to it. What do we have control over and what skills do we have to make positive change? Where can we improve? And what thinking distortions are affecting our ability to manage our needs? Do I struggle with physiological symptoms such as panic, where I need to learn skills in relaxation?
So there is your task at hand and an acronym for getting where you need to go in life. Use wisely and you might find stress to be a positive aspect of life rather than a something that weighs on our shoulders.