H.A.L.T.! Taking Your Pressure Pulse

A guest article by Marianne L. Sade.

You’re in the zone, you’ve waited for this groove, you can’t stop now! You gulp down more lukewarm coffee. (Eurgh.) It’ll get you through. There’s the persistent push: “If I can just finish this paragraph, then I’ll stop and get something to eat…” Before you know it, your head is pounding, hours have passed, and you’re way too close to the emotional point of no return. You’re moody, cranky, and maybe just plain mean. This can be disastrous for both your personal and professional life.

It’s time to


Have you used this handy mnemonic device before? Here’s a reminder to check in with yourself and to slow down if several of these apply to you:

Are you…


(When was the last time you had something to eat? Are you over-caffeinated or dehydrated?)


(How are you feeling? Did someone cut you off in traffic this morning?)


(Have you spoken to anyone today? Have you hugged your pet or partner today?)


(Are you sleep deprived?)

If you’re experiencing two or more of the above, it might be time to slow down and take care of your needs.

A Personal Experience

This happened to my partner and I after a long, frantic week. We were in our favorite pizza place, waiting for dinner, going over the day’s challenges in a pleasant way. And then suddenly, we started unreasonably digging into each other. Our conversation came to a screeching halt.

Later, on reflection, I realized we were both exhausted, very hungry, and, as a result, getting angrier at each other by the minute. Maybe it was useful that once dinner showed up, we were very quiet. A kind of adult “time out” followed naturally, and I took a few breaths to figure out what was going on.

Instead of turning to an online distraction, an unreasonable screaming match, or jumping into a work project, I picked up my journal and started letting off some steam. Within a short time, I was able to share a scribbled note that said, “Truce or dare?” Ah, relief?

That quickly, we were back to being calm and having a good laugh about it all.

Take a Pause

Take care of what needs attention or what you might have ignored for the sake of a deadline.

I know that sometimes when I’m most frantic balancing work, family life, and creative pursuits, the last thing I want to do is slow down. I might be afraid of losing momentum or would rather get lost in the creative process than admit I need to get some sleep.

It’s easy to forget to rest and self-nurture during an artistic push, but sometimes the FLOW is about the pause. When I least want to slow down is when it’s usually important to stop.

Do you have enough socks?

Routines allow space for the unexpected to appear. I used to think that basics were boring, but now I’m seeing they can create opportunities for self-expression and a healthier lifestyle.

Take, for example, how Jason shared his chicken recipe for a week of nourishment in Better Design & Development Through Cooking. Eating something healthy will keep you going a lot longer than lukewarm coffee.

In one of my favorite creativity cheerleading books, the author asks, “Do you have enough socks?” This seemed silly when I first read it. What do socks have to do with being creative? I know a lot of artistic types who don’t even wear socks. But guess what? I looked in my drawer to find a sad, worn assortment of socks, and it turned out to be an opportunity to express myself in a fun, new way while making my feet feel a lot better in the process. Socks — who knew?

So consider HALT when things seem to get crazy or else you could wind up like the guy in Don Quixote: “Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.” Well, you get the point, right?

How have you been feeling lately? Do you feel overwhelmed by all the projects and deadlines in front of you? Are you having a difficult time taking breaks? Share your predicaments with us.

About the author:

Marianne L. Sade is an experienced researcher, art librarian, writer, and creative in the Baltimore, Maryland area. Connect with her on Twitter at @girovagogirl, LinkedIn, Tumblr or send her an email at lainom@gmail.com.