As the political climate, and our semesters/quarters, have waxed and waned, I am in solidarity with continuing to find ways to resist. However, if you’re anything like me, sometimes you are feeling so out of it and not yourself that you don’t even know where to start. Maybe things have some to a point where all of it is so overwhelming, that you literally can’t feel. You’re not connecting. Imposter syndrome kicks in. You are feeling like you are the fake news you are advocating against! If you are not feeling this way, awesome! Personally though, I have had some trying moments this semester between school, personal life, and major political anxiety.
I had vowed to “bring it” this year, and I am still trying! But I would be lying if I said that sometimes I just don’t feel myself. As someone who thrives on analysis and just having it all figured it out, there have been PLENTY of times where I wonder what is “wrong” with me. This reminded me that, first of all, I am human. And second of all, I was reminded of a very helpful acronym I learned a few years ago: HALT. As yourself, are you Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and/or Tired? While this does not provide in-depth analysis, it can be useful gauge to better understand one’s mental state. Do you feel one (or more….or all) of these? Then hopefully, if you have the privilege to do so, these characteristics can be addressed somehow. At the very least, they provide some individual insight.
Hungry: I supposed this can also be “hangry”, but this can have implications beyond innate hunger. The obvious one is “are you hungry?” If so, perhaps before indulging in self-hate or blame, indulge in an apple, granola bar, Girl Scout cookie (yay I got some!), or other foodie goodness to see how you feel. Maybe it’s the little oomph you need to become more focused and less stressed. However, I also think this could refer to dietary habits. There are so many types of diets out there with a myriad of arguments. I am not going to advocate for any single one. But if you know you have been overindulging, underindulging, or are having issues related to food intolerance, then this could also be something to investigate. This can certainly be time consuming and possibly very costly. But minimally, there is power in identifying the problem instead of feeling like a failure, or even a sort of failure.
Angry: Anger is an emotion I have felt at an increased level this semester, because politics. Someone once told me that anger is fear’s bodyguard. This statement was epic to hear the first time and every time afterwards. I don’t think this necessarily means that we need to stop being afraid. There are many reasons that fear can be a good thing ranging from innate biological responses to feeling that your basic humanity is being threatened. But again, if this can be identified, you know that it can be contributing to sadness, depression, and/or confusion. Perhaps it would help to turn off social media or make an appointment with a therapist. Maybe an old friend can remind you about what is still good in the world. Or maybe this anger can lead to arming ourselves with more knowledge to fight injustices. Just know that you are not alone, and there is community out there. Even if you just need to cry or vent together. You can also join other MLIS students and the Hack Library School collective in our first #dearHLS chat tomorrow at 8pm CST to chat about these exact issues!
Lonely: Loneliness is difficult. And loneliness is something you can feel when you are alone OR with others. It is understandable that sometimes we are triggered in a way that no amount of community or positivity can come close to helping. Everyone deals with this in different ways. Sometimes it can be channeled into creativity! Regardless, this is something to consider when you are feeling imposter syndrome or just unfeeling in general. I am not a mental health professional, but I encourage anyone to seek one out. And, from personal experience, you may have to try a few out before meeting your match. Or maybe reaching out to a confidant is enough. Just be aware about what is causing these feelings so, ideally, they don’t perpetuate.
Tired: Now this is a feeling that most students are probably experiencing! This semester, I have been working until 11pm three nights out of the week. This has not been easy for me or my biological clock. And this also isn’t easy for the countless people worldwide that work more than one job trying to survive. Again, some of us may not have the privilege to remedy this difficulty. But this is an indicator of the status of your mental health and how it is affecting other parts of your life.
Self-care has become difficult to talk about because it is also something that a subset of individuals can actually accomplish and can be a neoliberal concept. But before we care for ourselves or demand that this care is provided for us, awareness is the first step. As a student, we can be so bogged down with multiple priorities and erratic scheduled that this can be even more difficult!
So the next time, you are sad or don’t feel like doing the work that you swore you had a passion for, I hope that HALT-ing can provide an avenue to explore and identify what’s getting you down.