This was the acronym of the week for me – spells out as Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. 

Self-care and self-awareness professionals have long spoken about these four symptoms being reliable initial signs of our body telling us to reset and review our lifestyle and life choices. 

It is 107 days today from that fateful Tuesday in March when we first heard we were to be Locked-down. 500 odd people were ill then with a virulent, potentially life-threatening virus – and an entire nation was shutdown. Forget the counter-intuition of quarantining healthy people (it was meant to be the other way around!), we then had to rewire our work / life / family / social lives in a way hitherto unimaginable. 

I imagine most of us have felt one of these four – or some combination thereof – because of all this rewiring we’ve had to do in the days that followed. Now – I am not a self-care or a mental health professional… but I have spent a lifetime listening & learning to professionals and colleagues – and I realised that HALT is manifesting itself in unique ways as we battle the uncertainty caused by this wretched virus

Hunger – to achieve a perfect work / life balance, and to finally crack open that door to the next level of attainment (in fitness, cooking, online gaming, dance / singing etc.). Because of course we had more time suddenly. How – I don’t know. 

Anger – at not being able to demonstrate purpose; with helping the immigrants, ensuring the basti-folk have food, or the strays. Responsibility for self was a given – the aim was for everyone who can give / do / donate to do so. Sometimes without a receipt… of course the PM Cares…. And often, without recognition

Loneliness – caused by the lack of any distance between your screen and you. It started with all meals being had together, occasional board games in the evening, some balcony time and chit-chat before bed. It evolved into 14-hour workdays, constant search for new ways to affirm value and to ensure that we are doing more. Not with each other, though. 

Tired – of constantly being at war with oneself. The physical and mental impact of not being able to break out of the rut or do something different. When weekends and weekdays meld into one. When one meeting seems the same as the next. When everyone you speak to agrees on the state of play (bad), prospects for the future (worser) and the uncertainty of it all (worst). 

So – I say this… I have gone through the last 107 days without having achieved any new life skill, put on a few more kilos, constantly worried about the business and our team, concerned about the screen time my kids have, frustrated at not being able to go away for a holiday, mildly fulfilled by some of the clients we were able to help but also aware that most everyone is under renewed pressure to do more with less. 

I have tried to reach out, been present and pushed for outcomes. It has been a par Q1 – which is such a huge testament to the team. The family is well – here, and everyone far away. The teams are safe and largely sane. Maybe that is enough. I have decided I will take some breaks in July. Won’t try anything new, nothing brave or different. Just reset the brain. Just want to not HALT.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Amit Narayan
Partner & Managing Director, South Asia at Control Risks
Amit manages consultants who design, develop and implement risk-mitigation strategies for companies across South Asia. He has advised clients on political and regulatory risk, pre-investment risk, reputational DD, forensic investigations, public policy and stakeholder mapping. Amit has worked in Edelman in India and Burson-Marsteller in Singapore. He has also worked in-house at Vodafone in Singapore and The Walt Disney Company in Hong Kong.

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