H.A.L.T.! When You’re STRESSED and Feel Like Kicking Someone’s @$$ – and Do This Instead

Ever get T-R-I-G-G-E-R-E-D?

Oh gawd… Haven’t we all? 😦

What a disaster it FEELS like to be triggered, and what disasters we CREATE from that state.

We blow up, chew out, make hasty decisions, drive erratically, put ourselves or others in danger, connect with weird people, experience regrets, get pounding headaches, trash things we’ve created (including relationships), blow money… Goodness, how the list goes on and on.

How about a QUICK and SIMPLE acronym to INTERRUPT or PREVENT one of those disastrous trigger-happy (actually trigger-sad) responses to life?


H.A.L.T. stands for: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.

The next time you’re triggered and ready to pick up the hatchet in your kitchen drawer… check first if you’re hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. If you said, “Damn it, YES! I’m 3 out of 4! Grrr!”…

Good. DROP EVERYTHING (yes, including the hatchet… put it down…) and tend to these basic needs. (Tips on how to, coming up).

All too often these physical and emotional imbalances create the environment for a trigger to release like an atom bomb.

Take care of these basic needs, and you create the environment for equanimity, smarter decisions, better relationships, and that sought-after state of well being.

Some days we’re ON.

Our Morning Routine is dialed in, we’re rested and productive, we eat foods we know make us feel great, we get some movement in, and oh, how life feels GOOD.

Other days our “Mr Hyde” shows up in the form of our inner-rebellious-teenager-self (minus pimples and shoplifting cheap jewelry. well… hopefully minus those). And that Teenager Self says, “Screw those ‘good behaviors’! I don’t feel like being ‘good’ today! Na-na-na-na!”

The result? We PAY for it.

Next thing you know, we’re triggered and obnoxious to those around us. Drive like maniacs. Our stomach is twisted and causing weird hollow dinosaur sounding burps. Plus depression or anxiety rear their ugly heads, and a hangover is in our future.

It’s not easy being a human.

I don’t know why we don’t just stick with the things we know make us feel happy, healthy, productive, and connected.

But we don’t.

Unconscious programming, addictions (large or small), laziness, hassles in life… They all contribute.

The fact is:

It’s EASY to stay up until 3 AM doing basically nothing productive, drink too much coffee or alcohol, and lay around and eat chips and Moon Pies.

It’s easier to do those things, than to get our sorry ass to the gym or the pool or figure out how to make a great cabbage salad or bake without sugar.

The Big Push “To the Top”
(for what?!)

For eons, “society” (yes that masked, boogie man that’s never quite identified) has told us to PUSH. Work harder! Stay up later! Be the coolest cat in the office by getting by on 4 hours sleep! Hurry hurry hurry! Get ahead of the pack! Make WAY more money than you could ever spend, while ignoring the supposed love of your life and the babies you made!

So we push. We experiment to see how far we can go with excess stress.

But that’s not how we FEEL our best, nor how we DO our best.

And it certainly messes with our relationships – not to mention our relationship with our Beautiful Self.

You know it, and I know it.

So how about we give “Society” the one-fingered salute, and make a DIFFERENT decision:

To truly TAKE CARE of ourselves – and become the better, cooler, happier, more peaceful, loving and lovable version of us as a result?

The easiest way to begin this… is to H.A.L.T. Here’s how.

The next time you feel triggered, stressed, or out of sorts, ask yourself these 4 questions:

1) Does my stomach sound like the percussion section of “Carmina Burana” (gurgle gurgle boom boom)?

If so, stop what you’re doing and EAT SOMETHING.
(Ideally something healthy. We want your belly to sound like a happy purr, not switch from percussion to an avant garde horn section).

2) Am I triggered and angry about something that, when I actually examine it, isn’t THAT big of a deal?

In other words: Would you even remember this issue 5 years from now? A year? A week?

If you decide you’re making something relatively unimportant… IMPORTANT…  take some deep breaths while picturing something you love – like a pet or a favorite place you’ve been. Or take your dog for a walk or shoot some hoops – ANY movement or exercise will help MOVE the anger from being lodged in your body.

If you’re angry over something WORTH spewing loads of cortisol and adrenal into your body for:

Still take the time to breathe and/or move as a first step. Strong emotions get stuck in our body and movement can help them dissipate.

After you have normalized yourself a little, sort through the situation:

            • What part of the problem is “theirs” – and what part is “yours”?

(even when it feels like someone else is 100% to blame, there is ALWAYS at least 1% that is our part. I know, I know, YUCK. Shut up, Barbara. But… it’s true.)

            • What is IN my control, and what is OUT of my control in this situation?

(you know which one of those to focus on).

3) Do I feel lonely?

If yes, REACH OUT to someone. I realize you may not want to. Especially if you feel depressed. (A symptom of depression is to hole up and actively NOT reach out. Use your force of will to do it anyway. It will get you out of your MIND – and in this state, the mind is dangerous terrain to hang out in).

Call a bestie (or even a half-bestie) and see if they can meet you for coffee, or take a walk, or just chat for a bit.

If no one is available, go to where people ARE – a grocery store, Starbucks, beach, or mall. Just get around other humans.

(Pro tip: If you connect with a friend, don’t spend more than 5 minutes recounting the problem you’re dealing with. This is both for you AND them. The more you discuss your problem, the more you’ll stay STUCK in the Mind Loop. Plus it isn’t the most inspiring conversation-starter. If it helps to “unload” a bit, and you have a kind and willing friend, great. But quickly get on with asking what’s going on in their life or something more neutral, fun, or inspiring – a great movie they just saw or book they read, for example. Basically: CHANGE GEARS. The connection between the two of you will sync up more easily, and voilá! Loneliness gone).

4) Am I tired? Exhausted? Worn out? Pooooooped?

If your eyelids are drooping and you’re still up… If you’re hallucinating while driving (and not on psychedelics)… If you just slept 7 hours and you wake up feeling like a groggy lump of clay…

That’s a BIG CLUE to slow down. (obviously).

But how often do we heed the warning?

It is extremely easy to keep working, keep watching a show, keep cleaning up, keep pushing through.

But WHY?

(Oh yeah, that masked villain “Society”).

Unless you have a massive deadline, listen to your body. It is BEGGING you:

“Pleeeease! Put me to bed, I need my battery recharged!”


“If you don’t, I’ll have to do it MYSELF. I will MAKE SURE you slow down, like it or not…”

(and uh oh. that’s not good, my friend. ever come down with an illness at the most busy time? yep. ever step off the curb in a weird way and accidentally break a toe “for no apparent reason”? yep. fact is, there WAS a reason. your body “stepped in” to slow you down ’cause you didn’t do so when it warned you. tsk…).

As a bonus, I would like to add this 5th question:

5) Are you hanging out with people who exhaust you? Put you down? “Inspire” you reach for unhealthy foods, drink, negative thinking patterns, worry, or anger about things you can’t control (hello network news)?

If so:

Get CLEAR about who you want around you, and who you don’t. Pleeeease don’t relegate yourself to pushover status!

Learn about BOUNDARIES (hello Google!): What they are, and how to set them. They are LIFE
SAVERS. Just like nice, deep, freshwater “moats” around the castle that is your heart, joy, peace of mind, and success.


To sum up:

Next time you feel stressed… H.A.L.T. what you’re doing and do a basic check of these basic needs.

I guarantee if you give yourself a little “tune up” whenever any of these 4 warning lights go on (plus #5), you will shift from crash-n-burn to fine-n-dandy.

AND… If you’d like to learn simple yet profound, step-by-step ways to interrupt worry, stress, and anxiety:

Join me for my in-depth (and low-cost) workshop on the De-Looping Method – Thursday, Sept 2nd, 4:30-6:30pm PDT (7:30-9:30 EDT). More information and registration at: www.virtualconference.iands.org.

Here’s to a Full, Cheerful, Connected, Energetic (F.C.C.E.) week!


Barbara Ireland
Author of the #1 Amazon Kindle Bestseller, How To Stop Negative Thoughts
Contributing author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller, The Transformative Power of Near-Death Experiences

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