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.
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.
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