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“Am I Mad or Just Hungry?” – How Not To Light Everything On Fire When Your Physical Needs Aren’t Met

Eating, sleeping, resting – all of these are just basic physical needs right? 

However… these needs are basically non-existent for some. How many of us feel like we are constantly running in the negative with one, two, or all three of these constantly? Whether you are a parent, college student, business owner, active in your career, high school student, being deprived in any of these areas is a really common occurrence. So common, many of us don’t realize how this deprivation is taking a toll on our relationships, our career, our own well-being. Let’s figure out some simple ways to lessen the feeling of wanting to destroy everything just because we haven’t eaten.

Check In 

Often I talk about doing check ins with your partner, but this is for yourself. When you catch yourself feeling irritated, I want you to stop for a moment and do a body scan… When is the last time you ate? Drank water? Slept? Had physical exercise? If you are running a deficit on any of these things, your level of response to irritation may be a little higher and more intense than normal. It doesn’t mean the irritant isn’t real, but, maybe wanting to flip a table might be a slight over reaction. 

Name it.

Acknowledge it. 

And then move on to the next step…

Communicate

Communicate with others if you can about what is going on. Especially your spouse or close friend who may be getting the brunt of some of your reactions. Communicating this verbally also can help you regulate and acknowledge more what’s going on. This could look like: 

“Hey, I just realized I haven’t eaten all day and I’m feeling a little hangry and not patient. Can we table this conversation for half an hour so I can get something to eat?”

“Heads up, I didn’t sleep well last night, so I’m working on being patient, but if I’m seeming a little short today can you let me know? I don’t want to ruin everything just because my toddler kept me up all last night.” 

Complete

(I needed to finish this list with another “C”)

Eat! Sleep! Move your body! Some of these things are easier said than done, but definitely start moving them high on the priority list. Our culture glamorizes sacrificing these needs on the altar of busyness, but if you hurt relationships in the process, the success at the end may not be what you’re hoping for. Instead of eating a granola bar and taking a half lunch break, try taking a full one and eating a good meal. Instead of staying up late to finish those extra loads of laundry, maybe go to bed as soon as you put the kids down. Throw some extra water bottles, trail mix, things to keep you going throughout the day, in your bag. 

Realistically, I know that we are all going to be running in the negative with many, if not all of these things, at any given time. But acknowledging what’s going on, communicating with those around us, and then finally meeting those needs to the best of your ability can help minimize the consequences when the hanger strikes.

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Alyssa Webb-McCune

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