When you’re feeling worked up, it’s always better to take a pause in order to figure out what your body needs before you say or do something you’ll regret. (You’re never too old for a nap or a snack.) To do this efficiently, therapists often recommend the HALT method as an excellent way to tame emotions and create calmness by addressing basic human and bodily needs to prevent taking out your frustrations on someone else.
What Is the HALT Method?
HALT stands for:
The HALT method is based around the premise that you’re more likely to make poor, highly emotional decisions when hungry, angry, lonely or tired. “The purpose is to help us identify these experiences when we are tempted to engage in a negative behavior and to instead address the underlying issue,” says Kassondra Glenn, LMSW, a social worker and addiction specialist for Diamond Rehab.
The Purpose of the HALT Method
“The purpose of the HALT tool is to help us feel better when we are not feeling great emotionally, and it’s often used when we’re feeling upset or emotionally off-centered,” says physician and integrative medicine specialist Catherine Uram, MD.
Use it by asking yourself what seems “off” about your body and mindset, so if you notice you are not feeling like your usual self, you can go through the HALT acronym, questioning whether you’re hungry, angry, tired or feeling more isolated and alone, than usual.
1. How To Use the HALT Method When Hungry
When hungry, you tend to make hasty, emotional decisions, rather than use logic, as your body cries out for food and your stomach grumbles. “This is because our blood glucose (blood sugar) can be lower than usual, affecting our physiology, how we think, feel and therefore make decisions,” says Dr. Uram.
The best action plan is to identify hunger signals (rumbling stomachs, headaches, irritability, etc.) and find food as soon as possible. If hunger is the cause, it’s best to eat something light and nutritious, like vegetables, fruits, nuts, or seeds, which gradually brings physiology back to baseline
Then, later eat a meal, or add on to your snack, with slow speed and mindfulness to help you think more clearly and to feel calmer. “As your body and brain are coming back into homeostasis, you will think more clearly and feel calmer, avoiding hasty remarks and snappiness and alleviating uncomfortable moods,” says Glenn.
2. How To Use the HALT Method When Angry
Anger is a normal human emotion, but unless managed, it can lead to poor decision making in the moment. Use the HALT method by recognizing that you’re angry, and then choosing to use mindfulness to rest, with exercises that bring self-awareness, acknowledgement and a sense of calm. Glenn recommends deep breathing, sending energy into the feet, or touching fingertips together one-by-one as three simple techniques with potential to regulate anger quickly and with ease by bringing more attention to the present moment and anger.
Another way to use the HALT method is to target anger as the cause and then workout, which will release anger and stress. “Running, walking, or some other form of vigorous exercise can be helpful, because when we are angry, we have increased adrenaline and glucose (blood sugar), so intense exercise allows us to put it to good use physically, rather than keeping it all pent up inside, to then explode outwards,” says Dr. Uram.
3. How To Use the HALT Method When Lonely
People are wired to seek belonging, so when you’re feeling lonely, it may lead to depression and anxiety, as well as making decisions without connecting to yourself and your authenticity or power. There’s confusion on how to stay connected to yourself and to those around you. When depressed, HALT helps you handle emotions better and avoid taking them out on others.
Use the HALT method by reaching out to someone you feel you can be your authentic self with, and face-to-face, if possible, to reduce the loneliness you’re feeling. “Connection promotes nervous system co-regulation, which allows us to move from depressed/anxious back toward our baseline,” says Glenn. You might try yoga and meditation, exercising, reading a book, painting or doing any other hobby you love.
4. How To Use the HALT Method When Tired
Without physical energy, it’s hard to maintain enough mental energy and focus, as well as clarity with thinking and judgment. “Tiredness causes us to feel foggier and increases stress around making decisions, causing those decisions to be more rash,” says Glenn.
Use the HALT method by targeting the root cause (tiredness), and then prioritize tasks, to check off items accordingly, but also by prioritizing sleep, as well. A break might signify sleep, a vacation, a walk outside, an episode of your favorite television show or even simply sitting in silence for a brief pause, just for yourself.
When Is the HALT Method Most Useful?
The HALT method is a beneficial tool for people with anger management issues or chronic stress, for couples who are struggling to connect intimately or communicate well, and for those recovering from addiction and require greater self-awareness and ability to pause before doing things hastily to reflect and center themselves first.
“In general, HALT requires us to pause before choosing our next action and this pause creates space in which we can identify core emotions and choose a less harmful route,” says Glenn.
It’s important to remember that the HALT method is a tool for our toolbox, and it isn’t a cure-all or a technique for every scenario. It can be useful to talk to a professional in the area(s) in which you’re struggling to determine whether the HALT method can help with handling your emotions.
Written by Isadora Baum for Well+Good©
Source: Here’s How To Use the HALT Method To Figure Out Why You’re So Grumpy (msn.com)