Don’t Make Big Decisions When You’re Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired

By: Sabrina Peters

Ever experienced those moments when you’re absolutely famished, seething with anger, engulfed by loneliness, or utterly exhausted?

Well, here’s a word of advice: those are some of the worst times to make important decisions.

In fact, they’re typically the times when your choices are far from being your best. Let’s explore why and how these states can lead us astray in the decision-making process.

‘HALT’ represents four essential emotional risk states: hungry, angry, lonely, and tired.

These states play a vital role in our emotional well-being and can have a substantial influence on our decision-making and responses to various situations. By acknowledging and identifying moments when we find ourselves hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, we empower ourselves to take proactive measures, preventing impulsive reactions, and enabling us to opt for healthier choices that support our emotional and mental well-being.


“Hangry” is more than just a catchy term; it’s a real phenomenon backed by scientific evidence that many of us can relate to. We’ve all experienced those moments when our hunger transforms into a fiery temper, leaving us feeling irritable, agitated, and just plain “hangry.”

In this state, individuals often experience low energy, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.

Researchers have delved into the intricacies of this state, shedding light on the fascinating connection between our physical and emotional well-being. In a study conducted and published in 2019, in the Psychonomic Bulletin & Review journal, researchers discovered that hunger had a notable impact on decision-making. It manifested as heightened impatience among individuals faced with choices. When making decisions while hungry, participants showed a greater tendency to opt for a smaller, more immediate reward instead of a larger one that required waiting for a future date.

Addressing the “Hungry” state within the HALT framework involves understanding the effects of insufficient nourishment on our emotional well-being.

Proper nutrition is often underrated in mental health. It is vital for maintaining stable emotions and mental clarity. Ignoring hunger can exacerbate stress and anxiety, making it essential to prioritize regular, balanced meals and snacks to support overall well-being and emotional equilibrium


When someone is engulfed by anger, they may grapple with heightened frustration, resentment, and hostility. This emotional turmoil can cloud their judgment and lead to impulsive actions they might later regret. Unmanaged anger can strain relationships and exacerbate conflicts.

Recognising anger as a risk state empowers individuals to step back, practice calming techniques such as deep breathing, and employ healthy coping strategies to manage and diffuse this intense emotion effectively. By addressing the root causes of anger and seeking constructive ways to express it, individuals can enhance emotional regulation, fostering improved overall well-being.


Loneliness often magnifies negative emotions and can lead to feelings of despair and isolation. In this vulnerable state, we may be more susceptible to seeking immediate solutions or connections, even if they aren’t truly aligned with our long-term goals or values.

Loneliness can cloud our judgment, making us more likely to make impulsive decisions driven by a desire for immediate relief from our emotional discomfort.

Additionally, loneliness can make us more receptive to external influences, as we seek validation and connection. This can lead us to be overly accommodating or to make choices based on others’ expectations rather than our own genuine desires and needs.

Identifying loneliness as a risk state prompts individuals to actively seek social connections, reach out to friends or family, and engage in activities that nurture a sense of belonging. Prioritising social support and cultivating meaningful relationships can help counteract loneliness, ultimately promoting emotional well-being. Additionally, practicing self-compassion and self-care plays a pivotal role in addressing feelings of loneliness and fostering a positive relationship with oneself.


In this state, individuals often contend with reduced focus, heightened irritability, and impaired cognitive function. Fatigue can compromise decision-making and increase the likelihood of errors or accidents. Persistent tiredness can also disrupt emotional stability and overall mood, rendering individuals more susceptible to stress and negative emotions.

Recognising tiredness as a risk state empowers individuals to prioritize rest and sleep, engage in relaxation techniques, and manage their energy levels effectively. Ensuring adequate rest and engaging in self-care practices are essential for replenishing energy reserves and supporting emotional well-being.

Tips for the HALT States

Let’s end on some helpful hints!

When Hungry (H):

  • Prioritise regular, balanced meals and snacks to maintain stable blood sugar levels.
  • Opt for nutritious, energy-sustaining foods to prevent irritability and mood swings.
  • Stay hydrated to support overall well-being and mental clarity.

When Angry (A):

  • Practise deep breathing exercises to calm the body’s stress response.
  • Take a step back and give yourself time to cool off before reacting.
  • Identify the root causes of your anger and seek constructive ways to express it, such as journaling or talking to a trusted friend or therapist.

When Lonely

  • Reach out to friends or family members for social connection and support.
  • Engage in activities that foster a sense of belonging, such as joining clubs or groups with shared interests.
  • Practise self-compassion and self-care to build a positive relationship with yourself.

When Tired (T):

  • Prioritise rest and sleep to replenish energy reserves and support emotional well-being.
  • Avoid caffeine or stimulating activities close to bedtime to improve sleep quality.
  • Engage in relaxation techniques, such as meditation or gentle exercise, to reduce stress and fatigue.

Remember, recognising these emotional risk states is the first step toward better decision-making and emotional well-being. By implementing these tips, you can navigate these states more effectively and make choices that align with your long-term goals and values.

About the Author: Sabrina is a writer, pastor and relationships blogger. She is passionate about Jesus and changing the way people think about God, relationships and sex.

Article supplied with thanks to Sabrina Peters.

Feature image: Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash