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4 Ways to Practice Mindfulness Using the H.A.L.T. Method

There’s no time like the present to get present. One way to do so is the ever-nourishing act of meditation, which is a tried and true method of practicing mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a terrific tool for calming a busy brain and comes with incredible benefits such as reducing anxiety and stress and helping with pain management.

While meditation can be done anywhere, sometimes when we’re on the go, mindfulness can elude us. So, what can we do when we need a quick fix for anxious thoughts and stressful times?

This is where the H.A.L.T. method comes in.

A technique that started within the recovery community, H.A.L.T. is a way to check in with yourself when you’re feeling tense or uneasy. Simply ask yourself the following four questions of H.A.L.T.:

Am I Hungry?

There’s a fun candy commercial that reminds us how hunger can make us grumpy and irritable. However, some studies show hunger can lead to increased depression and anxiety.

When you’re feeling particularly moody or grouchy, take a moment to make sure you’ve eaten recently and had enough nutrients to keep you going through your day.

Some beneficial foods to snack on include chocolate (which is high in flavonoids that boost brain health) and berries (which are loaded with antioxidants that may help manage inflammation associated with depression and other mood disorders.) For an extra boost, try out MUD\WTR :rise Cocoa, which includes lion's mane, reishi, cinnamon, and chai, offering a nourishing alternative to coffee with added mental and physical benefits. 

Am I Angry?

In cartoons, it’s pretty obvious when a character is angry. They turn red. Their eyes bulge. Steam comes out of their ears. Whether or not you do the same, it’s important to address and express your angry feelings when they arise.

“Unexpressed anger can create other problems,” said Charles Spielberger, PhD in a 2023 article for the American Psychological Association.

“It can lead to pathological expressions of anger, such as passive-aggressive behaviour (getting back at people indirectly, without telling them why, rather than confronting them head-on) or a personality that seems perpetually cynical and hostile,” he adds.

So how do you manage your anger?

Try going for a walk. In a 2019 study, exercise was shown to reduce anger and calm nerves.

Some other rage-tamers include, but are not limited to:

1. Talking about your anger to a friend.
2. Practicing gratitude.
3. Taking a breather.
4. Letting it out creatively.
5. Laughing

When you’re not on-the-go, try curbing your anger by starting a gratitude journal.

Am I Lonely?

A wise woman once sang: “My loneliness is killing me.” And while those lyrics sound a bit dramatic, there is some truth in them.

According to a 2010 article from the Annals of Behavioural Medicine written by Louise C. Hawkley, Ph.D. and John T. Cacioppo, Ph.D., “Loneliness has been associated with personality disorders and psychoses, suicide, impaired cognitive performance and cognitive decline over time, increased risk of Alzheimer's Disease, diminished executive control, and increases in depressive symptoms.”

“Loneliness not only increases depressive symptoms,” they add. “[It] also increases perceived stress, fear of negative evaluation, anxiety, and anger, and diminishes optimism and self-esteem.”

Luckily, there are ways to feel less lonely:

1. Write down five good things that happened to you today.
2. Recall a happy moment in your past.
3. Phone a friend and tell them you appreciate them.

If you can, get together with a friend, talk about it and feel the stress melt away.

Am I Tired?

Remember when you were a child and your parent would make you take a nap because you were getting cranky? It turns out, this sleepy crankiness occurs in adulthood as well. In fact, research has shown that insufficient sleep can even lead to physical and cognitive decline.

With all the muscle tension and emotional intensity, stress is exhausting and it’s important to recover from difficult moments by getting plenty of rest.

Try improving your snoozing by getting plenty of sunlight during the day or unplug from social media two hours before bedtime.

If you’re new to mindfulness, checking in and asking yourself these four questions is a great way to start a regular practice.

Whether you’re getting overwhelmed at work or agonizing over that dentist appointment four weeks from now, use the H.A.L.T. method to get in the present and zone in on what you need to destress.

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