Coping Skills: Adhering to H.A.L.T. in Recovery
The key to maintaining a life is recovery is not solely abstaining from drugs and alcohol; rather, it also includes a combination of self-care and self-awareness. There are countless coping skills individuals use in recovery. One of the tools and coping skills people may use in recovery is the acronym HALT. This useful acronym reminds us to pause (HALT) and ask ourselves if we feel Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. While it may seem overly simplistic, if these basic needs are not met, we become more susceptible to self-destructive behaviors. Fortunately for us, hunger, anger, loneliness, and tiredness are easy problems to address and serve as a warning system for us. When we know what we are feeling, we are able to make the choice to address those needs before it is too late.
Hungry → Hunger can include either a physical or emotional need. Physically speaking, eating nutritious foods is incredibly important for our life in recovery. Meeting nutritional needs helps our body to perform at its highest potential and keeps us feeling better emotionally as well. By HALTing and assessing our current situation, we can also identify our hunger for more intangible things, such as affection, companionship, or understanding. To ease physical hunger, we must eat nutritiously and to ease emotional hunger, we must turn to our support system for love and understanding.
Angry → Anger is a completely normal and healthy emotion to experience. The important part here is to HALT and determine what is making you angry and how to properly express it. Maybe you are angry with a specific person or situation, or perhaps you are angry with yourself. It is essential that you identify what is making you angry and how you can deal with it in an appropriate and healthy manner. After identifying the cause of your anger, you can then properly diffuse it. There are many ways to healthily diffuse anger including exercise, punching a pillow, creative arts, or even cleaning. What works for someone else might not work for you, so you must explore what helps you deal with your anger in a healthy, constructive (not destructive) way.
Lonely → Loneliness can occur when we are alone or even when we are surrounded by people. If you are feeling lonely, it is important to HALT and ask yourself if you have reached out to anyone today. Your support system is there for you when you feel lonely, depressed, overwhelmed, anxious, etc. Calling a friend, going to a meeting, or visiting a loved one may help you when you’re experiencing loneliness. Perhaps just getting out of your house by running errands or going to a coffee shop can help you feel less lonely and overwhelmed. Loneliness can be a very difficult emotion, particularly in early recovery. This is why it is so important to HALT and determine the cause of your loneliness and how you can connect with those around you.
Tired → Being tired can take a toll on our physical, emotional, and spiritual selves. In recovery, our days can be full of meetings, errands, and fellowship, and it may be easy to overlook just how tired we actually are. Being tired compromises our ability to think clearly and cope appropriately. Taking time to HALT is incredibly important when we’re tired. Satisfying our physical need to rest and rejuvenate is essential for our physical and emotional health. Resting and recharging our body, mind, and spirit will help us to cope healthily and maintain our life in recovery.
HALT, one of many coping skills, serves as an important reminder for us to take care of our basic needs. For those of us in recovery from mental illness and/or addiction, HALT can help us to prevent relapse and continue to live a healthy life in recovery. Take a few minutes every day to ask: “Am I hungry, angry, lonely, and/or tired?” Honestly assessing how you feel only takes a few minutes and doing so will make the everyday stress of life easier to deal with.