We all know that drinking too much can cause physical side effects, the reality is that it can also cause mental and emotional side effects. ‘Hangxiety’, also known as hangover anxiety, is a type of anxiety that occurs after consuming a lot of alcohol.
Alcohol-related anxiety is a real problem and normally occurs after a night of binge drinking. Alcohol depresses the activity of the nervous system and when it comes back to life after your blood alcohol levels drop, the re-stimulation of the nervous system is what is thought to cause anxiety.
This phenomenon is commonly referred to as the ‘rebound’ effect of alcohol and aside from increased anxiousness, can also cause sleep disturbance and shakiness of hands and feet.
Here are ways you can deal with the anxiety after a big night out:
How to deal with anxiety
Obviously, the best way to prevent hangxiety is to drink less alcohol. But life happens and we may go over our limits when out socialising. Below, we’ve listed some strategies to help deal with anxiety.
Dealing with physical symptoms
The mind-body connection likely plays a big role in hangxiety. Feeling physically well won’t completely resolve anxiety, but it can make you better equipped to tackle racing thoughts and worries.
Take deep breaths
Deep, slow breathing can help you relax and slow a racing or pounding heart.
Breathe in while counting to four, then breathe out while counting to four again. Do this for a few minutes, until you notice your heartbeat slowing down.
You can meditate while sitting or even lying in bed, if you don’t feel up to being upright. It can help to start with some deep breathing, so lie or sit back, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing while being present in the moment. There’s a lot of research around the benefits of mindfulness, so it’s a great way to manage anxiety.
Put the night into perspective
Often, a big part of anxiety is worrying about what you might have said or done while drunk. But remember, what’s true for you is likely true for everyone else. In other words, you definitely weren’t the only one who said or did something you regret. It’s also possible no one noticed what you said or did.
Try to avoid fixating on what you may have said or done the night before as your imagination will be on high alert and can often over-exaggerate what actually happened.
Take steps to prevent a hangover
We’ve mentioned already that drinking over your limits and having a hangover is the root cause of hangxiety. Therefore, taking all the steps you can to prevent having a hangover is key to managing this problem.
Drinking lots of water, eating before going out and stocking up on your vitamins can all help.
Like other hangover symptoms, hangxiety may be nothing more than a passing discomfort. In most cases, hangover anxiety will pass when your hangover subsides. In other cases, it can be more serious and if your anxiety persists, or if you feel you need to drink more alcohol to cope with it, consider talking with a therapist or other healthcare professional.
As always, drinking less alcohol is the key factor here. So consider cutting back and avoid using alcohol to manage anxiety symptoms.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.