I recently learned about the H.A.L.T. acronym, which is a technique for relieving stress and anxiety. H.A.L.T. stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. The theory behind the H.A.L.T. acronym is that whenever we are feeling stressed, depressed, or depleted, we can stop (halt) and ask ourselves if we are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, and then take action to remedy the situation.
When our bodies aren’t feeling well, our minds will start to feel a little crazy too. This simple exercise helps us check in with our bodies and minds. In doing so, we begin to recognize the physical and emotional symptoms that may be our root cause for feeling less than ideal.
Try this exercise the next time you are feeling a little off. Stop whatever you’re doing, get quiet, and start to tune into your body. Close your eyes and take some deep breaths. And then start to ask yourself, “Am I hungry?” and notice if any sensations of hunger come up in your body. Then proceed to ask, “Am I angry?” and see what feelings arise. Next ask, “Am I lonely?” and notice how you feel. Finally, ask “Am I tired?” and take a moment to notice how your body responds. Notice which of these feelings is most present in your body. Then challenge yourself to come up with one small way that you can take action to feel better.
If you are feeling hungry, you may want to eat something. Be conscious of what you decide to eat, and try to choose a nutritious snack that will make you feel better, not worse. You may also want to make a conscious effort to eat well and consistently moving forward so that your hunger pangs won’t negatively impact your mood.
Anger may seem like a trickier feeling to tackle, but there is always a small action that you can take. If you are angry with someone, perhaps you want to have a conversation with them and share the way you are feeling. Alternately, you may choose to keep your feelings to yourself, but take some action to get the angry feelings out of your body, such as going for a run, screaming, or hitting a pillow. It doesn’t matter what you do, just make sure you do something to help process the feelings of anger so that you can start to feel better.
The next feeling you may be noticing is loneliness. It is important to note that feeling lonely is not the same as being alone. You can be perfectly happy and content being alone, and you can also feel desperately lonely in a crowd of people. Feeling lonely stems from feeling isolated and unsupported. If you find that you are feeling lonely, you can call someone you love, or make plans to meet with a friend. The most important thing to do when you feel lonely is to seek connection rather than turn to isolation.
Finally, if you identify that you are feeling tired, drained, or exhausted, ask yourself what you can do to get some rest. In our busy world, it becomes very easy to feel like we don’t have the time to properly rest. We can start to feel chronically overtired, which greatly impacts our nervous system. If you find that you are often tired, try to add some more rest to your daily routine. Go to bed earlier, see if you can fit a 15 minute nap into your schedule, or set aside adequate time to rest and unwind at the end of your day.
The H.A.L.T. technique is a great place to start becoming aware of our feelings, taking responsibility for them, and taking action to make ourselves feel better. Noticing the mind-body connection is an important skill to learn in order to manage our feelings in healthy ways, and begin to live happier and more peaceful lives. Although stress can be unavoidable, it does not have to lead to suffering, as long as we have the tools to manage it and take action to alleviate the symptoms when they start.
Please comment below and let me know what your go-to strategies are when you feel hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. It’s so helpful to share and learn from each other’s examples!
Wishing you a week of mind-body awareness!