Ah, the joys of drinking – the laughter, the camaraderie, the total abandon… and if you’re unlucky, the crushing anxiety that follows. If you’ve ever woken up the morning after a night out feeling like the world is ending, you’re not alone – in fact, there’s a name for it: hangxiety. While there’s no surefire way to completely prevent hangxiety, there are plenty of strategies you can use to lessen the blow. Here are some practical tips to help you stop anxiety after drinking alcohol.
Understanding Hangxiety: How Alcohol Affects Your Brain and Body
First things first – what is hangxiety, exactly? Essentially, it’s the experience of heightened anxiety and stress after a night of drinking. There are several factors that contribute to hangxiety, including the way alcohol affects your brain and body. When you drink, alcohol increases the production of GABA, a neurotransmitter that inhibits brain activity and can make you feel relaxed. But as your body processes the alcohol, GABA levels plummet – leaving you with less “brakes” to tamp down anxious thoughts and feelings.
In addition to the effects on GABA levels, alcohol also disrupts the balance of other neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals play a crucial role in regulating mood and emotions, and when they are thrown off balance by alcohol, it can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression. Furthermore, alcohol can also interfere with the quality of your sleep, which can exacerbate feelings of anxiety and make it harder to cope with stress the next day.
The Science Behind Hangxiety: Why Some People Experience It More Than Others
So, why do some people experience hangxiety more intensely than others? There are several factors at play, including genetics, previous experiences with anxiety or trauma, and even your individual drinking habits. Everyone’s brain chemistry is different, so it’s natural that some people would be more susceptible to hangxiety than others. However, it’s worth noting that excessive drinking – and especially binge drinking – can increase your likelihood of experiencing hangxiety.
Another factor that can contribute to the intensity of hangxiety is the social context in which drinking occurs. For example, if you are drinking in a high-pressure social situation, such as a work event or a first date, you may be more likely to experience hangxiety. This is because the social pressure can increase feelings of anxiety and self-doubt, which can be amplified by the effects of alcohol on the brain. On the other hand, if you are drinking in a relaxed and supportive environment, such as with close friends or family, you may be less likely to experience hangxiety.
Recognizing the Signs of Hangxiety: How to Tell When You’re Experiencing It
It’s not always easy to recognize when you’re experiencing hangxiety, especially if you’re already feeling physically ill from drinking. However, some common symptoms of hangxiety include:
- Racing thoughts or obsessive worrying
- Increased heart rate or palpitations
- Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
- Physical symptoms like sweating, shaking, or nausea
If you find that these symptoms persist or interfere with your daily life, it may be a sign that you need to seek professional help.
Hangxiety can be a particularly difficult experience for those who struggle with anxiety or depression. The combination of physical symptoms and negative thoughts can be overwhelming and lead to a vicious cycle of drinking to cope with anxiety, which in turn exacerbates the symptoms.
One way to prevent hangxiety is to practice moderation when drinking. This means setting limits for yourself and sticking to them, as well as avoiding binge drinking. Additionally, engaging in stress-reducing activities like exercise, meditation, or spending time in nature can help alleviate anxiety symptoms and improve overall mental health.
Coping with Hangxiety: Tips for Managing Anxiety Symptoms After Drinking Alcohol
So, how can you cope with hangxiety when it strikes? Here are some practical tips to help you manage anxiety symptoms:
- Create a calming environment – make your bed, light a candle, put on some soothing music
- Get some exercise – even a brisk walk can help burn off anxious energy
- Practice deep breathing exercises or meditation – focus on slow, deep breaths to calm your nervous system
- Avoid caffeine – it can exacerbate anxious feelings
- Try writing or journaling to process your thoughts and emotions
It’s important to note that hangxiety is a common experience for many people who drink alcohol, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. However, if you find that your hangxiety is becoming a regular occurrence and is impacting your daily life, it may be helpful to seek support from a mental health professional. They can provide you with additional coping strategies and support to manage your anxiety symptoms.
Strategies for Preventing Hangxiety Before It Starts: How to Drink Responsibly
Of course, the best way to avoid hangxiety is to drink responsibly in the first place. Here are some strategies to help you prevent hangxiety:
- Stick to a moderate amount of alcohol – the recommended amount is one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men
- Alternate alcoholic drinks with water or another non-alcoholic beverage to stay hydrated
- Avoid drinking on an empty stomach – eat a meal or snack beforehand to slow the absorption of alcohol
- Pay attention to how you’re feeling – if you feel yourself getting anxious or stressed, slow down or switch to non-alcoholic drinks
Lifestyle Changes that Can Help Reduce Hangxiety Symptoms Over Time
If you’re prone to hangxiety, making some lifestyle changes can help reduce your symptoms over time:
- Practice self-care – make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and staying physically active
- Reduce stress in other areas of your life – try meditation, yoga, or therapy
- Avoid or limit other substances that can exacerbate anxiety, like caffeine or nicotine
- Consider therapy or medication – if you’re experiencing severe or persistent anxiety, talking to a mental health professional or getting evaluated for medication may be helpful
Getting Professional Help for Hangxiety: Therapy Options and Resources
If you’re struggling with hangxiety and finding it difficult to manage on your own, there’s no shame in seeking professional help. Therapy can be a powerful tool for addressing anxiety and developing coping strategies. Some therapy options to consider include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) – a type of therapy that helps you identify and change negative thought patterns
- Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) – a type of therapy that utilizes mindfulness meditation and stress-reduction techniques
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) – a type of therapy that helps process traumatic events
If cost is an issue, there are also many low-cost or free mental health resources available, such as community clinics or online therapy options.
How to Talk to Friends and Family About Your Experience with Hangxiety
If you’re experiencing hangxiety, it can be helpful to talk to friends or family about what you’re going through. However, it’s not always easy to broach the subject. Here are some tips for talking to loved ones about your experience with hangxiety:
- Be honest and direct about what you’re experiencing – explain what hangxiety is and how it affects you
- Ask for support – let your loved ones know what helps you when you’re feeling anxious
- Be open to feedback – your loved ones may have suggestions for ways to cope or resources to help
- Don’t be afraid to set boundaries – if social situations or certain people trigger your hangxiety, it’s okay to say no or limit your exposure
Final Thoughts: Remembering That You’re Not Alone in Dealing with Hangxiety
If you take nothing else away from this article, remember this – you’re not alone in dealing with hangxiety. It’s a common experience for many people who drink, and there are plenty of resources and strategies available to help you manage it. Whether you’re making lifestyle changes, seeking professional help, or talking to loved ones, remember that it’s okay to ask for support when you need it.
After graduating from Sussex University, Emily leapt into the world of travel PR furthering her inspiration to discover the globe’s hidden wonders. Next on her bucket list is experiencing the cherry blossom season in Japan and her all time favourite destination is Menorca. She loves reading and quirky art exhibitions, is obsessed with hats and rom-coms, and one day hopes to live back in Brighton by the seaside.