I came across the acronym H.A.L.T. watching a show about a chemically addicted character. H.A.L.T. stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired. Each one of these emotional or physical conditions can leave an addict vulnerable for relapse.
I began to think about these conditions in relation to chronic pain and realized that, if not remedied, they also would leave a chronic pain patient vulnerable for increased pain levels.
Hungry describes a condition of needing or wanting food. When you have a chronic pain condition, it is critical that you keep your blood sugar levels stable. Small, frequent meals balanced with the appropriate amount of protein and complex carbohydrates is what you should aim for. But hunger can also include emotional hunger: hunger for attention, for love, for understanding, for companionship. Do you have people in your life that you can depend on when you need them? Do you have a support system? If you are feeling hungry, can you figure out whether to reach for nutritional food or whether you need to phone a caring friend?
The second condition, anger, signifies your emotions are out of control. Is there a situation that is upsetting you? What do you need to deal with? Anger is not a bad emotion even though it has gotten a bad rep. There are plenty of healthy ways to express anger such as exercise, screaming into a pillow, even working through it with EFT or Tapping. Perhaps you need to tell someone that you are angry. Another option is to write your thoughts out and then burn the letter.
Next is lonely. Being lonely is like emotional hunger. What can you do to reach out? Is depression a problem? Can you join a support group? Maybe you need professional counseling to look at the underlying causes of your loneliness.
The final H.A.L.T. acronym condition is tired. When you are out of energy then pain has a real chance to get a foothold. Are you trying to do too much? Are you overwhelmed? Could a nap help? Are you getting proper rest each night? Maybe you could take a break and do some breathing or meditating.
Next time your pain spikes, ask yourself to H.A.L.T. Then take the steps to find out if you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired and do what you can to remedy the situation. It might be all you need to bring your pain levels back down