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Put A Halt On Hangry

Many if not most adults have been hangry at one point or another in their life; so hungry that they are angry. So hungry that it affects their focus and performance and even their personality. Irritability comes to mind - when thinking of others who have been hangry, of course.

Being hangry is so commonplace that there are advertising campaigns based on the concept. The humorous Super Bowl ad featuring an angry Betty White comes to mind.

While we joke about being hangry, we should be more serious about the negative impact food, or a lack of it, on our health. This includes mental health, especially during times of stress like a pandemic, and during periods of recovery from illness.

It is time to put a HALT on hangry.

While literally meaning to stop, “HALT” is also an acronym that stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. When one or more of these areas are out of balance, it is more likely we will struggle with health and our overall well-being.

Hunger –

Think about how poorly you feel when you are hungry. When your blood sugar gets low, you may get a headache, become irritable, or find it difficult to concentrate. These effects are the result of the brain releasing certain chemicals that interfere with the production of serotonin, a feel-good chemical.

We might jokingly say we are “hangry,” but this is a real thing. Hunger can put the body in an imbalanced state that can lead to mood swings, affect our ability to make decisions, and lower our impulse control.

When you get physically hungry, it’s important to refuel your brain and body with nutritious food.

Anger –

When we are angry or experiencing negative emotions, we may not be able to think rationally.

If you feel angry, it is important to take some time to calm down first. Try to talk through what you are feeling with someone. Then you may feel better able to address a problem.

When in the midst of anger, it is generally a good idea to wait a while before touching technology. In other words, no texting, tweeting, e-mailing, or posting.

Loneliness –

We all experience loneliness at times in our lives. Even when people surround us, we may not be actively interacting with them. What’s more, with all of our modern technology, many of us are plugged in electronically but not connected emotionally.

Think about the number of times you may have made a problem much worse in your head by imagining the situation into a catastrophe. Once you actually talked out what was wrong, you gained a much more positive perspective.

It’s generally a good idea to reach out every day and connect face-to-face with other people, even if face-to-face means FaceTime or Zoom. Isolation can be a breeding ground for depression and unhealthy choices. Even brief encounters can help reduce feelings of loneliness and have a positive impact on well-being.

Tiredness –

Making sure we get enough sleep at night can help improve not only our physical well-being, but also our emotional health. When we are physically and emotionally tired, we are often more likely to engage in more negative thinking patterns and interactions.

How much sleep is enough? Experts recommend seven to nine hours. Anything less than six can have damaging effects, such as an increased risk of accidents, diabetes, heart disease, depression, and obesity.

More recently, sleep is emerging as the latest casualty of the COVID-19 crisis. Too many sleepless nights can aggravate both physical and mental health problems, but a few simple adjustments to our already altered routines may resolve our bedtime issues. For instance, even though it may seem counterintuitive after a lost night’s sleep, avoid napping. Likening naps to snacks, he warned that napping for longer than 20 minutes or late in the day ruins our “appetite” for sleep.

Conclusion –

When you find yourself getting upset, or if you just feel a bit off: HALT. Take a moment to do an internal assessment. Are you hungry, angry, lonely or tired? If so, take the steps necessary to address your needs. By proactively making sure you never get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired, you can help protect yourself against many illnesses and mental health symptoms.




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