We’ve all been there: You wake up with a pounding headache, mascara smudged on your pillow, and a bad case of hangxiety, fully regretting that extra cocktail you ordered last night. For some, physical symptoms are the extent of a hangover, but for others (myself included), alcohol can have negative effects on your mind too. These effects often come in the form of rethinking everything you said or did the night before, worrying all your friends are mad at you, or just that general sinking feeling of dread over nothing in particular.
Experts have recently coined the term “hangxiety” to explain these alcohol-induced feelings. According to SELF Magazine, hangxiety occurs when alcohol interrupts our neurotransmitters and the body is trying to regulate inhibitory and stimulatory systems. It’s also more likely to affect those with existing anxiety symptoms (*raises hand*). I know I’m definitely not alone in feeling this way when I indulge in a couple of glasses of Sauv Blanc, so I’m sharing a few tips I learned that help me cope with my hangxiety and will maybe help you. Read on for five ways I deal with a little bit of anxiety after drinking.
As someone who deals with generalized anxiety on a daily basis, I often use journaling as a technique to organize my thoughts and calm my nervous mind. When I wake up feeling hangxious, my mind is usually racing with negative thoughts or worries. Rather than keeping those thoughts inside, I like to write them down as a form of self-therapy. That way, I can determine if my thoughts are grounded in reality or if it’s just my anxiety playing tricks on me. This is also helpful to look back on later if my hangxiety begins to flare up because I can remind myself that I’ve already worked through those worries and don’t need to dwell on them anymore. If you find yourself experiencing negative thoughts or worries regularly, consider speaking with a therapist.
2. Drink water
This probably goes without saying, but hydration is key. During a night out, I tend to skimp on my water intake, so the next day, I’m typically not physically feeling my best either. It’s hard for me to get out of a negative headspace if I’m also dealing with a headache, so I focus on hydrating throughout the day. In addition to its health benefits, taking time to drink water is also a way of practicing self-care, which can help boost my mood when I’m feeling low. Another key tip: Try to stay hydrated while drinking alcohol instead of just the day after.
3. Move your body
Working out isn’t high on my list of interests after a late night out, but making it part of my hangxiety routine has been a game-changer. Similar to drinking water, working out helps me establish a mind-body connection and assists the body’s natural detoxification process (which feels especially important the day after a couple spicy margaritas, you know?). I don’t always enjoy a hungover sweat sesh in the moment, but even something simple like a short walk leaves me feeling empowered and proud of myself for putting in the work. Exercise also releases endorphins, and endorphins make you happy.
Maybe it’s the water sign in me (shoutout to all my fellow Pisces!), but I firmly believe there’s nothing a good shower can’t fix. It’s hard to feel good about yourself mentally when you’re not feeling great physically, so I find it helpful to remove any residual makeup off my face (looking at you, mascara smudges), wash the dry shampoo and hairspray out of my hair, and start the day fresh. Taking this time for myself serves as a gentle reminder that I am worthy of feeling good in my body. For bonus self-care points, click here to make your shower routine more luxurious.
5. Do something productive
During hangovers past, I used to wallow in bed, eat Mcdonald’s breakfast, and feel sorry for myself (no judgment if this works for you!). But I’ve learned that getting up and doing something productive actually makes me feel better. Whether it’s something small like planning out the week ahead or a larger task like cleaning the house, I feel good about myself after I’ve accomplished something on my to-do list. It makes the worries about the night before seem a lot less important. While these tips work for me, it’s important to note that alcohol and anxiety affect everyone differently. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for how to take care of your mental health, but doing what feels best for your body is a good place to start.
While this article is referring to common effects of short-term drinking, there’s a correlation between anxiety disorder and alcohol abuse, according to the American Addiction Center. If you are struggling with substance abuse, call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for assistance.