How to Cope with Hangxiety
Updated: Jan 28
Feelings of anxiety the day after drinking alcohol. It’s a complex state to explain, but we’ve all been there, and no doubt will be there again.
Alcohol is a big topic in the spiritual + self-care community, but that isn’t what this post is about. We’ll save that for another day.
Alcohol, like most humanly pleasures (sex, drugs, and Greggs Vegan Sausage Rolls), can be enjoyed as part of a healthy self-care + spiritual lifestyle.
So, this is for you folk who like to cheers but struggle with the next-day-fears.
The neurological changes we experience combined with tendency to overthink can severely worsen feelings of depression and anxiety. If you can relate, you have plenty of company. Understanding some of the biological + psychological reasons for these symptoms can help when it comes to dealing with them:
Alcohol is a depressant. It affects the brain’s ‘happiness level’ by funking with the release of chemicals serotonin + dopamine, the ‘feel-good hormones’. At the time of drinking, you get an initial hit of that feel-good feeling, but these same chemicals become deficient the next day; which may lead to heightened anxious or depressed feelings.
Physical Pain + Discomfort
The physical pangs of a hangover include tiredness, headache, sensitivity to light, thirst + bad breath. Please could you open a window, and bring me a glass of water?
Light sensitivity is caused by acetaldehyde, which makes the nervous system extra sensitive.
Body trembling is caused by low blood sugar and alcohol impacts on the liver.
The nausea, sickness + vomiting you might experience is due to increased stomach acid, which also makes it difficult absorbing nutrients from food + liquids. Hence the craving of those easy-to-digest sugars + carbs!
Dealing with memory lapse and confusion can be one of the toughest parts of Hangxiety. This is partly due to tiredness + dehydration, and, well, the rest of the chemical crisis that's currently taking place in the brain the morning-after!
This can develop feelings of guilt and shame, who invited them to the party? Even if confusion dilutes after some time, dehydration, physical pain, and fatigue certainly doesn’t help one to think clearly.
Being unable to recall what happened can cause a great deal of stress. And the anxious brain will want you to speculate about every ‘bad thing’ that might have happened. Which brings us to…
Drawing a blank. Stressing over what you do remember, what you did, said, and how you acted. Then questioning even the bits you do remember.Yep, you can go from Hawkins to the Upsidedown overnight!
It’s important to understand that these feelings are valid, but they are exaggerated; by the physical effects of a hangover. Add other narcotics or a history of other anxiety-related conditions to the mix, and it can feel uncontrollable.
these feelings are valid, but they are exaggerated
While each symptom can be distressing on it’s own, the combination of symptoms will no-doubt increase feelings of anxiety.
Side-note: It’s important to know that Blackouts and Short-term Memory loss are not the same thing. Blackouts are a sign of a drinking problem, and if you’re experiencing them, the advice is to seek professional help.
Alcohol can release pent-up emotions or make feelings of any kind more intense. This can impact on your health, friendships, family + work in many ways. The ‘foggy brain’ the day-after certainly doesn’t help our frustration when it comes to dealing with those emotions.
So how the fudge are we suppose to deal with this hangxiety?
While the surest remedy of these troubling changes is time and sobriety, there are things you can do to prevent hangxiety happening, and ease your symptoms when it does.
Trust me, there is light - read on.
5 Tips on Preventing Hangxiety:
Planning the ‘night-before’ and ‘day-after’ in advance can massively reduce the development of hangxiety. For example, don’t plan a bender when you have work the next day. Straight forward, right? Here are some tips to help plan ahead and minimize the effects of alcohol:
1. Eat Well
Always make time for a hearty healthy dinner and never drink on an empty stomach. Carbs are your friend people, eat the spuds, protect the tummy.
Stay mindful and moderate your consumption by turning wine into water, and drinking that sacred H20 between drinks. What's more, drinking a glass or two of water before you go to sleep will help massively with the morning fuzz.
3. Check in
Mentally preparing for consuming alcohol: checking in with how you feel before popping open a bottle + having little self-check-ins throughout the night. This in way, you will recognise when you’ve reached your limit, and know when to stop drinking for a better day-after. This also means recognising your mental state and asking yourself the question of whether alcohol would do more damage than good right now.
4. Intention Setting
Why are you drinking? What is your intention? The power of intention is strong, and when we set one we are planting a positive seed within our state of mind, albeit the only seed to ever be watered by wine. It’s a form of self-motivation to maintain in a positive place when under the influence.
For example, my intention to drink tonight is: to celebrate this new season, enjoy catching up + chatting with my friends, dance to my heart’s content, and be in the moment. An intention should never be using alcohol as an emotional coping strategy.
5. Drink the Good Stuff
You’re not 16 and camping anymore, so leave the Lambrini on the shelf. In general, it’s good to avoid mixed-alcohols or dark-coloured drinks. They contain natural chemicals called congeners, which irritate blood vessels + tissue in the brain, making a hangover worse. Likewise, fizzy mixers [carbonated drinks] speed up the absorption of alcohol into your system, so mix with caution.
5 Emergency Hangxiety Tips
For when the damage is done, and the prevention methods skipped. Here are 5 tips on how to deal with hangxiety while you are experiencing it:
I cannot stress this enough. Rehydrating the body + the brain will help you to physically deal with the painful symptoms of a hangover. Drink water, drink water, drink water. If this is something you struggle with, flavour the water with berries or lemon. Or alternatively, drink something high in electrolytes such as, coconut water or vitamin enriched water. If you really can’t the H20, drink squash. But avoid or minimise drinks that dehydrate you further, like soda, caffeinated, or sweetened drinks. And for the love of the universe, avoid ‘the hair of the dog.’
2. Call a Friend
You know how it is, a problem shared... call a friend and talk it out. It helps to get out of your head and come back down to sober earth. By talking about the things that are making you feel so depressed + anxious, you will start to figure out if it’s even anything worth getting so stressed about. Sometimes your best friends are your best therapy. Maybe next time, plan meeting up with friends the ‘day-after’ in advance.
Sometimes your best friends are your best therapy
3. Carbs, with extra Carbs please
We all love a good ‘hangover cure’ in the form of a fry up, take away or greasy feast. But do we love how we feel afterwards? As mentioned above, our body will naturally crave more ‘sugary + carby’ food when hungover.
These foods may help you feel less trembly and can settle your stomach. But you can get your fix and feel good about it, with healthy-ish hangover food. Load up on your favourite carbs + fruits + fats without the unhealthy effects of eating greasy + processed ‘food.’ Eat real, eat plentiful, and feel good about it; about looking after your hangxiety with healthy-hearty meals.
My favourite hangover foods: full vegan cooked breakfast ft. the famous Linda McCartney, tofu scram, beans, greens + lots of toast; banana pancakes with fruit + maple syrup; pumpkin katsu curry with boiled rice. What’s yours?! Tell me in the comments!
4. Fresh Air
Nature’s own paracetamol. There is nothing more soothing for hangxiety than fresh air. Not only will fresh air help wake you up + improve your brain function, it can help relax your mind as well. If you can, get moving too. Walking + stretching will help lower anxiety + stress levels. So, get out of your bed, get out of your head, + go for a walk. I promise you will feel at least a little better, if not a lot, afterward!
5. Rest + Relax
Zzzzz. The shut-eye time machine we all love; Sleep. When experiencing a hangover with all the trimmings, sleep is vital for any kind of recovery. Be sure to rest more than you normally would and give your body + mind time to relax + restore. Go offline + close the blinds; get some good old’ fashioned rest. Be still, let your eyes close and get the sleep that you need.
Go offline + close the blinds
If you can’t seem to relax + shake the fear, it might help to wash it away. Showering can help calm you down + freshen you up. Get last night’s air out of your hair. Have a shower, relax + rest easy, feeling clean + sleepy.
Hope you enjoyed this week’s babble + tips (and gifs!) on dealing with hangxiety. I felt super pushed to write this after dealing with some of the worst hangxiety I’ve had for a long time. Apply these preventions methods to your life, and enjoy a drink without the next-day-kinks. When you build a healthy relationship with alcohol, and take these extra steps of self-care, you can live a more balanced + happy social life, without the fomo!
Love + Moonlight, and remember to always, always
- Handle with Care