There are so many people and societal influences out to sabotage your success. Every day you will face obstacles that threaten to sabotage your brain healthy plans. This is why the eleventh step of The Amen Solution @ Home focuses specifically on helping you overcoming barriers.
One of the best ways to keep your bad behaviors in check is to “H-A-L-T-S.” H-A-L-T-S is an acronym that is commonly used in addiction treatment programs (Healing for the Soul added the fifth letter, “S,” several years ago), but it is also particularly helpful for people who have trouble coping with daily stress. H-A-L-T-S stands for:
- Don’t get too HUNGRY.
- Don’t get too ANGRY.
- Don’t get too LONELY.
- Don’t get too TIRED.
- Don’t get too SICK, SAD, STRESSED, SCARED, or SHAMEFUL.
H-A-L-T-S has proven to be a very effective way to keep people on track when they are trying to change their habits.
Don’t Get Too Hungry
Going too long without food lowers your blood sugar levels which can lead to a variety of emotional issues including feelings of anxiety and irritability. These may be the very emotions that trigger your overeating.
Low blood sugar levels are also associated with lower overall brain activity, which is linked to an increase in cravings and impulsivity. Heightened anxiety and irritability coupled with more intense cravings and impulsivity is a recipe for emotional overeating. Keeping your blood sugar levels even throughout the day is critical to keep you on track.
Here are some tips to keep your blood sugar levels from getting too low.
- Eat a healthy breakfast—people who maintain weight loss eat a nutritious breakfast.
- Have smaller meals throughout the day. Eating big meals spikes your blood sugar levels then causes them to crash later on.
Amen Solution @ Home Tip: Keep track of your eating habits in your online Food Journal to make sure you are eating often enough so you don’t let yourself get too hungry.
Don’t Get Too Angry
Uncontrolled anger can send you running to the cookie jar to calm your emotions. Here are some tips to help keep anger under control.
- When you feel mad, write down your thoughts and ask yourself, “Is it true?”
- Practice deep-breathing exercises.
- Meditate. Just a few minutes of meditation can help you refocus your thinking.
Amen Solution @ Home Tip: Go to the ANTs game to talk back to your angry thoughts. Visit the Relaxation Room to practice deep-breathing exercises or to meditate.
Don’t Get Too Lonely
Social skills and a positive social network are critical to your emotional well-being. Working on your current social situation is important to healing. Here are some tips to increase your social bonding.
- Enlist a team of supporters and healthy role models.
- Volunteer in your community.
Amen Solution @ Home Tip: Invite friends, family, and coworkers to join you in living a brain healthy lifestyle by joining The Amen Solution @ Home.
Don’t Get Too Tired
A 2007 study found that sleep deprivation caused the emotional centers of the brain to become 60 percent more reactive to negative emotional stimuli. That means your brain simply can’t cope as well with stressful situations, leading to worse moods, more anxiety, greater irritability, increased anger, and more frustration. And when your emotions are running wild, you are more apt to run to the refrigerator for solace.
In addition, lack of sleep lowers overall brain function, which leads to more bad decisions. Several studies have shown that lack of sleep leads to higher calorie intake and higher consumption of refined carbohydrates, which as you learned in the Don’t Get Too Hungry section, causes blood sugar levels to spike and then crash.
If you routinely have trouble sleeping, I suggest keeping a sleep journal for at least a few weeks. Make copies of the following chart to track your sleep. It can help you pinpoint everyday habits that might be contributing to the problem.
Make sleep a priority to boost brain function, moods, and energy levels, and to improve judgment and self-control. Here are ten ways to make it easier to drift off to dreamland and get a good night’s sleep. Remember that we are all unique individuals and what works for one person may not work for another. Keep trying new techniques until you find something that works.
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule—going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each day, including on weekends. Get up at the same time each day regardless of sleep duration the previous night.
- Create a soothing nighttime routine that encourages sleep. A warm bath, meditation, or massage can help you relax.
- Some people like to read themselves to sleep. If you are reading, make sure it isn’t an action-packed thriller or a horror story—they aren’t likely to help you drift off to sleep.
- Don’t take naps! This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make if you have insomnia. Taking naps when you feel sleepy during the day compounds the nighttime sleep cycle disruption.
Amen Solution @ Home Tip: Visit the Relaxation Room for tools to help you sleep better. Consider supplements that help you sleep, such as melatonin, valerian, magnesium, and B6, found in Restful Sleep.
Don’t Get Too Sick, Sad, Stressed, Scared, or Shameful.
While these emotions are part of the human condition, it is important not to allow them to swing our emotional state to the extreme tempting us to “act out.”
Being prepared for these unplanned barriers is the key to overcoming them which is why the Amen Solution @ Home provides you with not only the full H-A-L-T system, but also a variety of other protocols to help you overcome obstacles.