Hungry – Angry – Lonely – Tired
Remembering the HALT acronym whenever you are feeling low can be a great way to work out how best to move forward.
HALT may originally have been promoted by Alcoholics Anonymous, and is now a well recognised tool of recovery. Whenever you are feeling low or in distress, consider the issue below, and then take immediate action to bring yourself into balance.
Hunger isn’t just feeling like you want to eat, it’s your body’s need for nutrients; since your brain is organic, it needs nutrition to function properly. Just because you don’t feel like eating doesn’t mean your body doesn’t need to eat. When your body goes too long without food your blood sugar levels drop. Your metabolism slows down as well. This leads to a general feeling of weakness, makes it hard to think and you can’t rely on yourself to be functioning at your best.
Anger isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Anger is a valid emotion, and all your emotions are important. What makes anger a problem is when you lose control of your temper and your behaviour becomes extreme. Anger causes you to do things that you wouldn’t normally do, and you may well regret your actions later. An angry person doesn’t think things through as well as one who is calm.
Being alone isn’t the same as being lonely. If you are spending time on your own, that’s fine, we all need space to think. Everyone needs relationships in their lives; as social creatures, we can’t develop as whole persons without social interaction. You should make time each day or so for positive, constructive interaction with someone, a friend, a partner, a parent, a sibling or even a stranger on a bus.
Being tired and run-down creates so many physical and emotional concerns; you deserve to give yourself regular, quality sleep. Don’t deprive yourself of sleep when you’re wishing to recover, you will be stronger and more energetic if well slept, and you’ll even look better as well!
Halt also means to stop. When you find yourself feeling depressed or out of control, stop or halt yourself; take some time to contemplate your feelings, and have a look at your energy levels in respect to Hunger, Anger, Loneliness and Tiredness.
See if one or more of them applies to you. When we are well rested, our bodies nourished, calm and not as lonely, we don’t have to fight as hard to stay positive. Withdrawing and isolating yourself actually makes you feel worse.
I know it’s hard if you’re upset about something and want to be alone. It’s OK to be alone to collect your thoughts. But be smart about it. If you need to be alone to calm down about something, go do it. But then pull yourself back together and make yourself get back to the business of living.
If you find one of the factors of HALT applies to you, fix it. It’s that simple. If you haven’t eaten, eat. Even if it’s just a sandwich or a bowl of cereal or some crackers, eat. If you’re overly angry about something, let it go. Sitting around stewing in anger doesn’t do anything to help the situation, and in effect you’re wallowing in the emotion. Get up and do something to get your mind off it. Take a walk, tear up paper, do something tedious. If you’re lonely, go talk to someone. It helps just seeing another human being and saying hi. Talk about the weather, talk about a new movie you want to see, talk about a song you heard, whatever…just talk. Finally, if you’re tired, sleep. If you don’t get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every day you will start to feel bad.
By using HALT when you feel bad, you can greatly improve your mood and your life. HALT isn’t a cure-all by any means, but it is a basic tool to keep your mind healthy. If you can’t correct one of the factors, (e.g. if you’re lonely and no one is around) do what you can with the rest of HALT.
You’ll find that if you try to follow this simple plan you’ll start to feel better and things won’t be quite so much of a problem.