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HALT! A Tried and True Method for Managing Emotions

By March 16, 2016October 28th, 2019One Comment

HALT – Do you know what it means? It’s a great technique for anyone to use to manage emotions and moods, but it’s especially useful for those with the mental illness.

HALT – Never let yourself get too:


Makes sense, huh? Have you ever noticed how much any of these, when ignored too long, can really affect your mood. For those with a mental illness, managing HALT is critical to avoiding major relapses and keeping a healthy balance in life.

HUNGRY – As you probably know, the food you eat can have a direct effect on your energy level, physical health and mood. And when your blood level drops or spikes, it can also have a dramatic impact on your mental stability. For those who struggle with depression, some vitamins and minerals may help with symptoms. These include folate, vitamin B12, calcium, iron, selenium, zinc and omega-3. Experts agree that regular meals and snacks, combining a protein, nutrient-dense carbohydrate and healthy fat, is the key to a balanced diet and mind.

ANGRY – Anger is a normal human emotion that can cause slight irritation to a strong rage. Suppressed anger can be an underlying cause of anxiety and depression, which can disrupt thinking, behavior patterns and even physical health problems. It’s important to learn ways to manage anger and stress.

  • Use deep belly breathing as a way to calm and center yourself.
  • Use positive self talk and words that combat angry thoughts, like “relax” or “slow down.”
  • Be assertive calmly and directly instead of aggressively about issues you have with someone.
  • Seek out the support of others to talk through your feelings.
  • Keep a log of when you feel angry.
  • Use empathy to put yourself in someone else’s place.
  • Learn to laugh at yourself.
  • Seek professional help if you feel your anger is affecting your relationships or your health.

LONELY – Everyone feels lonely from time to time, but long periods of loneliness or social isolation can have a negative impact on your health as much as obesity. Research suggests that people need to attend to loneliness in the same way they would their diet, exercise or how much sleep they get. So what should a lonely person do?

  • Recognize the loneliness.
  • Understand what the loneliness is doing to your mind and body, so you can do something about it. Studies show that loneliness increases the risk for death by 45 percent and the chance of developing dementia by 64 percent.
  • Respond to your loneliness “safely.” Social media isn’t a substitute for face-to-face contact, but it’s better than nothing. Sometimes it’s best to sign up or join something that’s a bit outside your comfort zone. You may be nervous or self-conscious at first but it’s typically worth it.
  • A therapist can also help if loneliness comes with anxiety or depression.

TIRED – Sleep is so critical to the good mental health of everyone. Sleep deprivation for someone managing a mental illness can trigger depression, manic episodes and psychosis. However, everyone needs a good night sleep to think clearly and keep your mood in check. If you struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep, below are some tips that might help out. Consult a health care provider if you have more serious sleep challenges.

  • Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning.
  • Establish a bedtime ritual.
  • Avoid caffeine after 1 p.m.
  • Eat on a regular schedule and avoid heavy meals before bedtime.
  • Exercise daily but try to avoid strenuous exercise right before bedtime.
  • Play soothing music or read.
  • Take a warm bath or shower.
  • Place lavender oil on your pillow or by your bedside.


Andrea Berryman Childreth

Author Andrea Berryman Childreth

Andrea Berryman Childreth is an award-winning author of the book, ON THE EDGE: Help and hope for parenting children with mental illness, founder of The Lemonade Project, advocate and parent coach. She has first-hand experience with parenting a mentally ill daughter and has struggled with mental illness, herself. Her goal is to help empower people to openly share their stories and improve access to equitable mental health services.

More posts by Andrea Berryman Childreth

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Avatar Khayrie says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this article about a tried and true method for managing emotions. This is a very informative article and should be shared to our family and friends so they too can learn a lot from this.