Good afternoon everyone, and thank you for tuning in to the MindPath Care Centers’ Facebook live events. We do apologize that there is a technical glitch, and therefore this isn’t actually live, but I’m going to present to you this afternoon what I would have if we were live and together, and then we will be taking your questions, and I will be responding to them in a second part of this video. Certainly I want to again, welcome you and thank you for taking the time to join us here at MindPath Care Centers, and I’m Shantel Sullivan, a licensed clinical social worker and the lead therapist at MindPath Care Center’s Addiction Recovery Center.
I want to start today by reminding each and every one of you that we are still in this together; it is still happening, but we are going to persevere, and we will come out of this still together. So, with that said, today’s talk is geared towards looking at an active recovery. So, as the lead therapist at MindPath Care Centers, I wanted to offer some of the tools that I am sharing in my individual and group therapy sessions now. So, today I’m going to offer those in long-term addiction recovery, early recovery, or even those who are thinking about asking for help for their substance use specifically.
So, this is a self-assessment tool that has been around for a long time, and so if you have been in the recovery field or you’ve been in a recovery journey of your own, you will likely be familiar with this acronym, but it is a sure, tested, excellent way we can do a daily check-in and self-assessment with our self, or we can come back to it from time to time throughout the day as we see needed. So, this is really for everyone to use.
So, the acronym I want to share with you today is called HALT. H, A, L, T. Halt. So, what halt stands for is – hungry, angry, lonely, and tired, and certainly during this pandemic we’re probably all feeling one or more of those things, so here’s a way to address it.
First, the H in H.A.L.T. stands for hungry, right. So, we can think of this in two ways. First, hungry because maybe our nutritional needs aren’t being met, or the second part of this is our emotional needs are not being met. So, it’s important to know that not having a regular diet or a healthy diet can impact us in so many ways. And so, we know that when our blood sugar is low because we haven’t eaten enough throughout the day, and we also experience maybe some shakes and fatigue, and maybe some light-headedness, and then our energy and our concentration goes down. So, a way we can address halt through the first letter H of hungry is to check in and say, “What have I eaten today?” or “When was the last time I ate today?” It’s important to also consider what you’re putting in your body as fuel, so I would encourage you to try to limit your high saturated fat and sugary foods. We want to be thinking about “How can we give ourselves a really good platform for wellness, and concentration, and thinking,” and so make sure that you’re checking in to see- what did you eat today?
Giving yourself enough nutrition, so waking up, and having a good breakfast, and making sure that you’re eating lunch and dinner, and maybe snacking in between, right. Six small meals would be ideal. And then the second piece to hungry is your emotional needs, right. So, maybe you are needing some connection, maybe you are needing some attention, maybe you are needing to feel needed or wanted by others, so this is a really important time to reach out. This goes down to another part of halt that we’ll talk about really soon, but again check in with yourself. Hungry. Am I hungry physically? Do I need to eat? And then too- Am I not having my emotional needs met, and how can I do that?
Now, the second part is angry, right. It’s hard to not feel frustrated right now with everything that’s going on. Certainly our finances are being impacted, if your employment has been impacted- this is a really high-stress time for everybody and can add challenge and complexity when you’re already working through a recovery process from addiction. Specifically, in this case talking about substance use disorders. So, one, this is a great time, if we’re feeling angry and we’re starting to sort of tuck away for ourselves, these resentments. Maybe we’re noticing that our fuse is a little shorter, and our temper is a little more quick. This is a good time to practice skills of breathing, taking pause to take deep cleansing breaths. This is a great time to also use mindfulness, so that you can be present in the moment, and checking in with yourself- “What is really going on here? What am I angry about? Is this worth my time and energy?” Right? Anger can be a really slippery slope because we may say and do things to ourselves or others that we regret, and so it’s a good thing to do to check in and say “Am I feeling angry? Am I agitated right now? Is something upsetting me?” and you can breathe, then use mindfulness and trying to let it go. Another measure is- “Is this really gonna matter in another hour or tomorrow? Am I going to be as upset about it?”
And then the third piece in HALT is loneliness, and certainly right now, during social distancing, this is at its climax. If you’re somebody who wants to be connected, particularly if you are looking for connection, or you’re wanting to attend peer support meetings or mutual support meetings, our sense of
Loneliness can be more difficult, certainly in this time, so reaching out for connection- “Am I feeling lonely? Am I feeling like I need to hear somebody’s voice?” or “I need to listen to someone else who’s in recovery, because, you know, this is gonna validate what I’m feeling right now.” So, like in H, hungry, this is again a place where we might need connection, or we should, if we’re feeling lonely, we want to then reach out to connect with others. And so, there’s a couple of places that you could do this.
There are free online platforms like Sober Grid at www.sobergrid.com, and in that platform you can choose to connect with others and talk to others, or you can do a daily log and set goals for yourself, listen for various meditations or affirmations. There’s also Sober Tool, so that’s a separate one – www.sobertool.com, and then if you’re looking to join a peer support meeting to make up for meetings that you’re notable to physically go to, or maybe you’re the person who’s been thinking about going to a mutual peer support meeting like Alcoholics Anonymous, AAA, or MA, marijuana Anonymous, or NA, Narcotics Anonymous, this would be a really great time for you to be able to do it from the comfort and the feeling of safety in your home. So, there are lots of AAA platforms or NA platforms that you can go to, but one of those that I’m familiar with and our patient population has told us that they really enjoyed is called In the Room, and so that’s another place that you can go to for some support, and to have camaraderie and connection, and feel validated, and really plug yourself into your active recovery and well-being. Your mind care is primary to us at MindPath and we hope that it will be for you too.
So, the last step in HALT is tired. So, here we have feeling exhausted, and certainly during this ramped up time of COVID-19, in this pandemic, and so much change coming at us so quickly, and our lifestyle really being turned upside down, and work and home as we typically knew it being shifted, we’re starting to feel depleted. You know, the first time I did one of these videos, we were just at the beginning of this, and here we are in the middle. Again, we are farther than we were when we first started, and we are closer to the end, right. So, we can have hope in knowing that there will be an end to this, but it’s true that our emotions have been heightened, and we’re having to juggle things differently than we had.
And so, our adrenaline is pumping, and with elevated adrenaline comes then the exhaust, and so here we are tired. So, you’re doing the self-assessment of- hungry, angry, lonely, tired. I would encourage you to think about your sleep hygiene routine, asking yourself, you know, “Do I feel like I have low energy? Am I having a hard time focusing?” or “Am I having a hard time maintaining my attention?” and if the answer is yes to any of those things, check in with “Hey maybe I’m tired and how has my sleep been lately?”
Maybe you’ve been getting limited sleep because you’ve been up binge-watching Netflix which, okay, that’s a way that we’re just trying to, you know, deal with and cope with what’s going on right now, and a distraction technique that works, but when it starts impacting our sleep, which then impacts how we can engage with the day, we want to take a moment of pause and think about how we can recalibrate ourselves, and so if you’re in this tired spot, we can think about our sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is important. So, picking a good time to go to bed, and not going to bed when you’re falling asleep on the couch or feeling so tired, but establishing a routine to wind yourself down, maybe some light stretching and exercise, or a hot cup of sleepy time tea. I know I personally like that one sleepy time tea and maybe reading a book, or an excellent one right now to kind of counteract some of that anger and frustration- a gratitude list.
Go ahead take a few minutes and write down what you can be grateful for today. There has to be something, or I hope there’s something, and if you can’t find something, maybe ask someone else in your house, or jump on one of those support tools, sober grid, or sober tool, or In The Room, and see what other people are finding gratitude in in a really difficult time. Because, what I don’t want to do is deflate the fact that this is hard, this is difficult, this is overwhelming, right. We need to acknowledge all of those emotions, so if you were tired, do think about your sleep hygiene routine, look at what time you’re going to bed, make it a reasonable hour, wind down before you are overtired, because when we get overtired then sometimes it’s hard to fall asleep, so go ahead, get comfortable, have a cup of hot tea, read a book, do your gratitude list, and try to get a good night’s rest.
Sleep is important for our energy, our focus, and our concentration, and so those are some tools- hungry, angry, lonely, tired. If we can check in with each of those the beginning of our day, “I just woke up. Am I hungry? Should I eat?” Another point about hungry- this is also another time where we can check ourselves if we’re starting to overeat, because that could be another coping strategy, so am I really hungry right now, or am I bored? Maybe I need to find something to do, all right. And so, find an activity, go outside and breathe in some fresh air, or look at the sun, or go for a walk with social distancing in mind, keeping that six foot rule. Read a book, build a puzzle, write a letter to somebody, send a card, bake, maybe cook, but again, checking in to see if Am I really hungry? And if you are, nourish yourself, and nourish yourself with something nutritious, and if you’re not, ask yourself “What is really going on? I may be on board, maybe I’m feeling tired, so maybe I need to relax a little bit more.” and then anchor, go back and do those breathing and meditations, connect with others, because it’s likely that if you’re looking to connect with someone, or you’re feeling lonely, someone else is too.
So, go ahead and pick up that phone, have a FaceTime chat, or maybe you can, you know, call an old friend and catch up with one another. Whatever you do, we are here for you at MindPath Care Centers, and we want to be part of your recovery journey, whether you’re thinking about it, or you are in the beginning, or you’re sort of through it, and looking for some aftercare support, we offer individual and group therapy, and right now we are doing both of those online through Telehealth. Again, thank you for tuning into this Facebook, and I hope it’s something I’ve shared today about how to engage in your active recovery or orientation to recovery. We’ll help you. Again, we’re in this together, and we will get through it. Take good care, thank you.