Now that Cyril has eased the alcohol restrictions some of you may be kicking back a few drinks – and with a good time comes an even better hangover. While most of you might be familiar with the physical side effects of a night of heavy drinking – maybe some of you too well – the mental side effects of a hangover can be just as taxing. If you have ever found yourself feeling embarrassed, worried, frantically trying to recall the night, overthinking and hyper critical of yourself and your possible actions from the previous night, you could be experiencing Hangxiety or Hangover Anxiety.
- Wait, my Margarita did what ?
The anxiety associated with a hangover is likely due to the shift in chemical levels in your brain that is caused by alcohol. Although hangxiety isn’t a universal experience, drinking alcohol can affect the dopamine levels in your brain, sending a rush of dopamine to the pleasure centre of the brain. This results in a temporary flood of euphoria. However as you stop drinking, these “feel-good” chemicals wear off and your brain attempts to rebalance itself – which is a main contributor to the feeling of hangxiety.
While the physical side effects of a hangover may include a pounding headache, nausea, sensitivity to light and heavy noises, fatigue and dehydration, the feeling of anxiety post drinking may sound like:
“Was I super annoying?”
“Aggh they probably hate me now”
“I never want to drink again”
“I hope I didn’t do anything stupid or embarrasing last night”
And look like:
Feeling guilty for for not remembering.
Making up scenarios in your head where you might have done something bad, because you don’t recall.
Calling friends to check if you’d embarrassed yourself.
Trying to replay the night in your head and remember embarrassing things you might’ve said.
Rewatching stories or looking at photos in a critical manner.
Hangxiety can leave you feeling overwhelmed because you’re experiencing the the physical side effects, as well as the anxiety symptoms of a hangover. You may want to retreat into one big blob on your bed thinking “if i’d just slowed down or not had that one more” or… or!… or!! You might find yourself saying “I’m never drinking again”, and while it may be valuable to cut down on how much alcohol you consume, you don’t have to cut out your happy hour Margarita completely.
- Have your Margarita and drink it too
Finding a coping mechanism for hangxiety is the first step, here’s a few more tips I find valuable when dealing with hangxiety.
Partner in Crime
What I find valuable is to wake up with friends or message a friend in the morning. It makes you feel a little less alone and you can both share stories about your night that can put you at ease. It may also make you realise how much fun the night was and that you were definitely not the only one intoxicated.
But first Coffee
Treat your physical hangover, managing the physical effect of your hangover by staying hydrated and eating something. This can help you feel less anxious.
Retreat to routines, self care methods, or foods that make you feel relaxed and comforted. This could look like doing light yoga, re-watching your favourite movies or ordering a pizza. You deserve it!
Remind yourself with Affirmations
One of my personal favourites is affirmations and journaling. It is important to remind yourself of all the great things you are regardless of how guilty, frantic and embarrassed you feel after one night. If you don’t enjoy writing down affirmations, say them out loud to your reflection in the mirror. Tell yourself that you are responsible, you are loved by your friends, you are smart, well respected and fun to be around. One night of drinking doesn’t change these, it is just a blip in your radar. Journaling and affirmations can help put this into perspective.
Reminder: you were most likely not the only person drunk and if you were, everyone has been there before. Keep your head high and your Margaritas frozen!