HALT – Are you Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired? If the answer is yes to one or more of these, then your basic needs are being met and you may tend to react emotionally or impulsively to a situation.
HALT is an acronym you can use to help you stop and check in with yourself before you react to a situation or give in to a craving.
After using alcohol for so long you may not be in tune with your own emotions and needs. Many people use alcohol to escape negative emotions. When you first get sober you may be feeling quite raw and not fully in control.
When you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired, you do not function at your best and it is easy to fall back on old coping mechanisms, such as alcohol.
Using HALT allows you to take some time to contemplate your feelings and address them, before you do something you regret.
Not eating properly and feeling hungry can wreak havoc on your mood. It can affect your ability to make healthy decision.
When you are hungry you are not functioning at your best. Hunger can lead to a general feeling of physical weakness and irritability.
There is a reason why people make up words such as H’angry (angry because you’re hungry).
So, when you are hungry you need to eat. Fuelling your body makes you strong physically and mentally and therefore more able to cope with any given situation.
Anger can be a common emotion in early sobriety. What makes anger a problem though is when we lose control of it.
Anger can cause you to do or say things you wouldn’t normally. This is because you will be too angry to think things through properly. And I guarantee if you act in anger, you will regret your actions later.
If you feel angry, don’t try to supress it. You’ve probably been doing that for years with alcohol. Instead, accept that you are feeling angry but don’t wallow in it. Acknowledge your anger and try to move on.
You can do this by simply talking to someone or going for a walk. I find, journaling, exercise, listening to music and even completing mundane tasks can help; anything to get you out of your own head.
Eventually the emotion will dissipate and when you are calm you are much more likely to deal with a situation rationally.
It may not feel like it at the time but emotions do pass.
Being alone is not the same as being lonely. Spending time on your own is fine, we all need our own space sometimes. However, when you first give up alcohol you can lose some friends and feel isolated. You may start to feel lonely or left out and decide drinking again is a good idea.
Loneliness is caused by a lack of connection or not being understood and it can lead to depression and anxiety but going back to drinking alcohol is not the answer.
To feel more positive and less lonely in sobriety it is helpful to connect with others who get it or get you. Unfortunately, your closest friends or family may not understand what you are going though at the moment but that’s okay.
If you feel yourself isolating. Make plans to meet up with a friend for coffee or call someone up.
To make new friends, try attending a recovery group or start a new hobby. There are groups out there for every hobby and interest nowadays.
Even reading and commenting on sober blogs will help you feel more connected with others. There are lots of us out there on a similar journey.
I have written a separate article called Loneliness in Sobriety. In it I cover a whole lot about how to combat loneliness and make connections, even if you are not the most social person out there. Give it a read here.
Simply put, you cannot think straight when you are tired, therefore you are more susceptible to making a bad decision, like having a drink.
Lack of sleep will leave you to feeling irritable and less able to cope with a situation. It is easy to become overwhelmed when you are tired and feel like the sky is falling down.
There’s a reason people say “everything will seem better in the morning”
Allowing yourself 7 – 9 hours of sleep per night will massively increase your ability to cope with what life throws at you.
If that’s not possible, try to take some time out during the day to simply rest. A 10-minute power nap or meditation can really help any feelings of overwhelm.
There were many times in my early sobriety when I was so overwhelmed with emotions and craving alcohol that I would drag myself off to bed a 7.30pm. When nothing else worked I knew sleep would help reset all those uncomfortable feelings.
If you are finding sleep difficult, check out my article Sleepless in Sobriety. I go through the science behind why some people struggle to fall asleep without a drink and what you can do to overcome it. Read about it here.
HALT – Take Away
HALT is a simple but effective tool for you to use to help keep your mind healthy. It enables you to stop and check in with yourself, before getting overwhelmed or reacting badly to a situation.
This tool is useful for anyone seeking to improve their mental health and well-being. It is not a cure all by any means but if you’re looking after your basic needs properly then you just don’t have to fight so hard.
So next time you are struggling or think having a drink seems like a good idea HALT!
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