Weighty Matters

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H.A.L.T.S.

on October 23, 2012

We get a reminder in OA to HALT which means to not let ourselves get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired.  Reaching our limit on any of those conditions weakens our resolve.  I’m tacking on the S at the end for Stressed because that’s how it’s been for me the last two days.  It’s ironic that I’m experiencing such an overload of work-related stress this week considering last week we all had sessions with our coach on managing our time and stress.  I learned a lot and quickly implemented some of the new tools into the way my department works.   These are excellent tips for organizing the day’s tasks.  They don’t completely shield us from stress-inducing situations, but at least we have a new vocabulary to talk about them.

The coach suggested that every morning before answering email or listening to voice mail, we organize our known tasks for the day and assign them a priority — A, B, C.  A items must get done.  B items should get done but can hold to the next day.  C items are lowest on the priority totem pole.  We can also look at things in different quadrants.  Quadrant One holds the things that are both urgent and important.  Other quadrants are either important but not urgent, urgent but not important or neither urgent nor important.

So, what caused me stress?  A combination of things.  I had some A list items that live in Quadrant One that I struggled to complete because I needed the time of other co-workers and they were busy with their own A list Q1 things.  Fact of life but stressful just the same.  I had someone at the last minute dump a Q1 that they’d been assigned on me and I wasn’t quick enough to say, “Hey, I have enough A things right now.”

We all have to be flexible.  Stuff happens.  We’re fluid.  New things arise.  That’s life and I’m okay with it, except when it feels like they’re all piling on me at once.  This morning when I made up my initial list at 8:45, I had four totally accomplishable A list items.  By 9:15, that list had suddenly grown to seven items!  Add in that one person I’d been trying to sit down with to settle one of those Q1 items kept getting pulled away or interrupted by someone else and my frustration level increased.  It is also entirely possible that I’m hormonal today.  Hormonal fluctuations are more difficult to track with perimenopause.

Anyway, before noon I felt so overwhelmed and stressed out with frustration, interrupted productivity, unexpected situations, etc. that I had to go into my office, shut the door, and have a short, mini-meltdown, complete with tears.  Twice.  Before noon!  This is above and beyond my usual mental/emotional state.  I operate on a pretty even keel most of the time and can roll with the situations.   Not today.

Remember H.A.L.T.S. and how those conditions weaken our resolve?  Let me tell you, by 2:00 p.m. I would have traded a toe for a freaking chocolate bar.  Luckily a friend keeps an emergency stash of mini-bars.  I weighed the options:  Continue to suffer with weepiness or self-medicate with a miniature piece of chocolate.  Friends, sometimes the chocolate really is the way to go.  At least I thought about it thoroughly intead of rushing into her office, yanking open her drawer and grabbing with both hands.  I took one, slowly unwrapped it, and savored every chocolate-y bite.

I’m not saying it’s the candy, but my day really did get better eventually.   I accomplished all seven of the A list items and handled a few miscellaneous Bs too.  I just took a break with a cup of tea and will handle one more small project before putting a halt to my work day.  I’m going to take good care of myself in non-food related ways for the remainder of the day.  Zumba Class after work, reading for class, and a good soak in the tub before bed ought to relieve the remainder of my stress.

Thankfully, days like today don’t last forever!

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4 responses to “H.A.L.T.S.

  1. Egads says:

    That you cried twice and normally wouldn’t have does sound hormonal. It usually is for me. I realize that eating a treat isn’t the best coping strategy, but I’m glad I can when I want to. We had a death in the family and as a result I put a dent in a pizza and a chocolate dessert both. I felt better for it, too. Now I’m back on track, and you are inspiring me to exercise.

    David Kirchhoff had another interesting blog post. This one was on private vs public eating. Like him, I have a will of iron in public. Unlike him, I do quite well when completely alone. It’s when I’m with immediate family that I overeat, so dinner is my danger hour. Hmm, realizations going on over here.

    Anyway, hope your days are less stressful soon.

  2. Sorry you had the meltdown but I totally get where you’re coming from with HALTS. Once one of those gets too big and it seems like mini bars of chocolate are the only option but I’ve found strangely enough brushing my teeth helps. I can rage at the mirror and I get a minty mouth out of it. If that doesn’t work I go for a run. Sometimes a long run.

  3. Skye says:

    @Roben: Being able to identify the emotion is what I’m learning in cognitive-behavioral therapy. I’m getting better at it, but it’s still kinda slow and not automatic yet.

    Mary – Sorry you had two meltdowns today; even one seems like too many! But maybe it is partly hormonal, what with the crying part. Hope you are tons better tonight. I know you will be after your Zumba class and everything else!

  4. RobenaGrant says:

    That’s so true, Mary. Those days eventually are over. But they sure are hell on wheels when you’re experieincing them. Good for you for recognizing what was going on. I’m still working on that and often don’t catch what the emotion is until I’ve succumbed to the self-medicating chocolate, extra coffee, red wine, or cheese. : ) I much prefer to identify first, and then if I still want a treat it’s oka because I know I can control the amount. Many times after identifying the root cause I don’t even need the treat but will go swimming or take a walk instead. Just wish the identifying was more automatic.

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