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HALT: How Can I Check in With Myself?

By: Bridgette W. Gottwald, LPC, NCC

Have you ever heard of the acronym HALT? If you are feeling off but can’t quite put your finger on what might be wrong, it’s a good idea to check in with yourself. Although it seems simple, when our basic needs are not met, we can run into self-destructive behaviors without even realizing it. HALT stands for hunger, anger, loneliness, and tiredness. This blog will help you to understand, utilize and incorporate this useful acronym into your own life.


Hunger typically begins as a physical need, but it can evolve into an emotional need as well. Not only is it important to eat, but we must eat well and healthily. When we meet our nutritional needs, we allow our bodies to operate at the highest potential and keep us feeling good. In addition to literal hunger for food, when using HALT, stepping back and taking a minute to check in with ourselves, we might realize that we are hungry for “less tangible things such as affection, accomplishment, and understanding.” Time to tune in!


Anger is a normal, common emotion that you will experience at different times throughout your life. When we HALT, we can discover what is causing our anger and how we are going to express it properly. You may be angry with a situation, person, or even yourself. But once you can assess what is bothering you, you can calmly confront the problem or person that you are having an issue with. Many times you might even have to confront yourself, even when you don’t want to. Giving yourself time to feel less “flooded” is key here because anger can be all-encompassing. When I say flooded, what I mean is that when we are angry, our brains become filled with cortisol from the emotion we identify as anger. Once we give ourselves time and space to breathe and decompress from this feeling, we can think more logically and rationally. Naturally, when this happens, cortisol levels begin to drop.


Interestingly enough, loneliness can occur when we are surrounded by people. When we don’t feel as if others can understand us, it can cause us to self-isolate. Many times we withdraw into ourselves out of trying to avoid two difficult emotions — fear or doubt. Being lonely can be self-imposed sometimes. When this emotion arises, ask yourself if you have taken the time to HALT and reach out to those within your support system. People that love you will be there for you when you need it, or when you are feeling depressed, anxious, sad, lonely or simply just need someone to talk to.


Being tired takes a toll on our minds and bodies — both physically and emotionally. It’s easy to overlook or not pay attention to how tired we become when days get busy and filled with to-dos. Running on low energy compromises our ability to think clearly and cope with difficulties in appropriate ways. Taking the time to HALT is key when you are tired, and getting adequate and healthy sleep affects all facets of life, especially our emotional well-being.

Hopefully, this blog stopped you in your tracks, halted you, and made you think about ways that you cope when things get stressful or challenging. In using this mindfulness acronym, you’ll be able to connect more with yourself, which should lead to a happier and more balanced lifestyle.

If you would like to learn more about HALT and put this into practice, check out our counseling services in Chicago, and contact Symmetry Counseling to get paired with a therapist who can help support you in your mental health journey.


Bradford Health Services. HALT: The Dangers of Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, and Tiredness. Retrieved from:

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