HALT: four states of being that can trigger negative thoughts and unwanted behavior

When we aren’t satisfied with a certain aspect of our lives, it’s easy to seek instant gratification instead of making a decision that will bring us joy. We indulge and cover up our emotions in whatever way we can to numb the pain.

But, as you can image, that causes problems. So how can we avoid seeking instant gratification and get used to the idea of seeking long-term joy again?

Let’s talk about HALT. It stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired: four states of being that can trigger negative thoughts and unwanted behavior. These four emotions put you in a moment of weakness, nudging you toward making short-term decisions that simply reinforces the attitudes you have toward yourself.

To control these powerful emotions and work toward joy, you have to be self-aware and recognize that they’re happening. Once you understand what you feel, you can do the things necessary or adjust your mindset to deal with them in a healthy way.

Hungry: Hunger is a mixture between mind and body. Once you realize what hunger actually feels like, stop and think about why you’re hungry — it could be an emotion creeping up. Are you just bored or tired? Are you seeking companionship or comfort through food? If you determine that you really are hungry, snack on something healthy like a piece of fruit.

Angry: Anger is a complex emotion and can create an immense amount of stress. It’s easy to let anger consume you, but most of us haven’t learned to deal with it in a constructive and healthy way. Wherever you are on the anger spectrum, you can reduce it with meditation and breathing exercises. When you learn that you can control it, you can move on.

Lonely: This is a common trigger that consistently affects other emotions and behaviors. Luckily, there are numerous ways you can manage the feeling of loneliness. Go outside for a walk — any form of physical activity will keep you from feeling stuck. Call a good friend or family member to feel support and connection. Or join a group of people who you have something in common with. Relationships are key when it comes to positive mental health and wellbeing.

Tired: Feeling tired can lead to feeling hungry, angry or lonely. The good news is that you can easily control this by taking a nap or going to sleep. If you’re having trouble falling asleep however, test out a few new methods like drinking tea before bed, banning electronics or stretching. Alternatively, feeling tired could be a result of feeling overwhelmed or overloaded. If this is the case, don’t feel guilty saying no, continue to take breathing and exercise regularly.

Once you’ve cleared out all of the HALT Triggers, you can move closer to experiences of joy in your everyday life. You can turn work into joy, learn something new or have a meal that you truly connect with. That way, you can rejuvenate your mind, body and soul.

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