Hangxiety: A guide to help manage your anxious hangovers
*Disclaimer: I am not a scientific expert on areas of hangover cures or hangxiety, always seek professional help should you need it!*
Picture this. You wake up after a night out hitting the town, head throbbing with a headache and likely some cheesy tune too. A dry cotton feeling fills your mouth, and of course, your old friend – a racing heart. You might look down at your phone and see 3 new messages from some girl you claimed as your long-lost soulmate in the club toilets, a text from your friend asking if you got home safe and, low and behold, a Snapchat you sent to your ex marked as read 7 hours ago. *Cue increase in heart rate*. Sound familiar?
Ok, so probably 90% of those who drink alcohol will relate to the majority of the above at least once in their lives. But for some, hangovers are no joke and can turn into a lot more than just feeling a little rough in the morning, manifesting into symptoms of severe anxiety. So frequent is this, that the term ‘hangxiety’ was coined, defined as ‘feelings of shame and anxiety experienced after drinking too much alcohol’ (Submitted to Collins Dictionary).
Being a September baby meant I was an early bird to the clubs and bars. And for a while, I managed to escape the grips of hangxiety. But pretty soon into my first year of university, I began to experience severe anxiety after drinking, slowly suffocating my enjoyment of not only alcohol but of nights out too.
Unfortunately, all the fun and dancing of the night before became trumped by waking up the morning after to a racing heart, restlessness and a sense of panic about what I might have said or done to embarrass myself in the evening prior.
Despite hangxiety being difficult to get rid of entirely, I’ve found ways to manage it, and some understanding of the science behind it has helped along the way. So, here are some ways you can help yourself out of a ‘hangxious’ rut and enjoy your nights out once more.
Manage your alcohol consumption
This one seems a little obvious, as it's no myth that the more you drink equates to a worse hangover. After the first few beverages which might make you feel relaxed enough to let loose, more alcohol can result in more severe anxiety in the morning. So if you want a very simple way to decrease your chances of hangxiety, try your best to say no to drinking past your limit. Keeping count helps, and of course, listening to your internal senses.
You’d be surprised how many people don’t realise the benefits of water. Try gulping down a glassful after every couple of drinks. To hydrate at a greater speed in the morning, take electrolyte-enhanced water – my go-to is Dioralyte. This replaces water and salts lost from the body. Top Tip: this is particularly useful during a girl’s holiday when you’re also in that baking sun after an evening at clubs and bars!
Avoid caffeine and sugary mixers
Although I haven’t come across much science around this one, my personal experience of avoiding caffeine-based liquids and high sugar drinks has decreased the severity of my hangxiety. Instead, opt for juice drinks like orange or cranberry juice rather than fizzy pop or energy drinks. (This also happens to help me sleep better instead of waking at the crack of dawn, funnily enough).
‘But I can’t miss cocktail night!’ I hear you say. But, who says you have to drink alcohol to enjoy a cocktail? I sure don’t. Not only do mocktails still taste great, they often cost half the price and no one suspects a thing when featuring them in weekend Insta photo dumps. Plus, you’ll be the one who feels fresh as a daisy making pancakes for the crew in the morning.
We all know the benefits of exercise, but ever thought about how it could help you to ease symptoms of hanxiety? Exercise regulates hormones, aids the release of alcohol through sweating, and I’ve personally found that distracting my mind through exercise eases restlessness. If you are a gym-goer and feel up to it, trust me on this one.
Deep breathing and meditation
Failing all of the above, breathing through anxiety takes practice but can work wonders. I’m still yet to master this one, but when I do I’m positive it will help me enjoy my nights out so much more knowing I have extra coping mechanisms under my belt to do so. Wim Hof, you are my hero.
And just some things to remember on these hangover days:
No matter how much you overthink about what you said or did, it's not going to reverse time so don’t waste your precious energy
I can almost guarantee that whoever you messaged, cried about your ex to, rang, or mum-danced in front of, will not even think about it. And even if they do, they will likely spend a maximum of 2 minutes doing so.
You should never be embarrassed about silly things you do when you’re drunk. Drinking should be a (moderated) pastime with friends and family which enhances relaxation and lets you create memories to laugh about in the morning and future.
Failing all else: LAUGH ABOUT IT.
If some of the above managing techniques and tips do not help you – and even if they do – it’s always best to seek expert guidance if your experience of hangxiety is severe or accompanied by any other mental health matters, addictions or alcohol/substance abuse.