Although we walk all the time, our walking is usually more like running. When we walk like that, we print anxiety and sorrow on the earth.

—Thich Nhat Hanh

Rushing, hurrying, and overloading subtract from our writing productivity. When we get overly stressed from endless writing jags, we can use the sensations of breath in the body to anchor our present-moment awareness and slow down. The acronym HALT stands for hungry, angry, lonely, or tired — a gentle reminder for writers to stop, slow down, and breathe when one or a combination of these four states overtakes.

When we feel HALT and use our intentional breathing from the diaphragm, it switches off the stress response. We take a deep abdominal breath through the nose, hold it as we count slowly to six, then purse our lips and exhale slowly through them.

When we repeat this breathing pattern several times, the body relaxes with each breath. Then we attend to whatever we need: eat a healthy snack or meal, let anger out in an appropriate way, contemplate our loneliness, or call a trusted friend and get restorative rest by napping or meditating. Afterward, we can slow down and take one challenge at a time, one step at a time. The irony is that HALT allows us to get more done, plus it renews our creative reserves.

Today’s Takeaway

Tuck these reminders away in your memory so next time writing stress is too much you remember HALT, then slow down, breathe, and take care of yourself.

Excerpt from Daily Writing Resilience by Bryan E. Robinson, PhD, with permission from the author and publisher.

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Author(s)

  • Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Founder and CAO of ComfortZones Digital and Author of 40 books.

    ComfortZones Digital

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D. is Founder and Chief Architect Officer (CAO) of ComfortZones Digital--the digital companion to mitigate workplace stress. He is a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, psychotherapist in private practice, and award-winning author of two novels and 40 nonfiction books that have been translated into 15 languages. His latest books are CHAINED TO THE DESK IN A HYBRID WORLD: A GUIDE TO WORK-LIFE BALANCE (New York University Press, 2023)#CHILL: TURN OFF YOUR JOB AND TURN ON YOUR LIFE (William Morrow, 2019), DAILY WRITING RESILIENCE: 365 MEDITATIONS & INSPIRATIONS FOR WRITERS (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2018). He is a regular contributor to Forbes.com, Psychology Today, and Thrive Global. He has appeared on 20/20, Good Morning America, The CBS Early Show, ABC's World News Tonight, NPR’s Marketplace, NBC Nightly News and he hosted the PBS documentary "Overdoing It: How To Slow Down And Take Care Of Yourself." www.bryanrobinsonbooks.com.