Are You Experiencing Hangxiety? Here’s How to Deal With It
It can be intense.
Having drinks can be relaxing and enjoyable, particularly if you don’t overindulge. You feel less stressed, more carefree, even more happy, for a time. But it’s not all fun and games, especially if you end up with a hangover. Then, your laissez-faire evening may literally be making you sick—physically and emotionally.
Unfortunately, people don’t usually think about getting a hangover—until it’s too late. If you do get a hangover, you’ll likely be regretting having that last drink or two (or more). But sadly, once you’ve got one, there’s not much you can do besides wait it out.
While we’re all likely quite familiar with the physical repercussions of drinking too much, many people are less aware that there can be significant psychological effects of a hangover as well. These mental health ramifications include feeling stressed, nervous, worried, or generally uneasy.
This experience of feeling anxiety during a hangover is so common that it has recently been coined “hangxiety.” This trending buzzword captures the emotional experience of being hungover. It’s also commonly called hangover anxiety. In this complete guide to understanding hangxiety, learn what hangxiety is, how to know if you are experiencing hangover anxiety, and how to cope.
Are You Experiencing Hangxiety?
We all know that drinking too much can lead to a hangover, with all its notoriously unpleasant physical symptoms. They can leave you feeling rotten for hours or even days as the alcohol leaves your system. Symptoms of a hangover typically involve lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, headache, fatigue, the feeling that the room is spinning, difficulty sleeping, generally feeling out of it, poor concentration, and impaired memory. In cases of more severe alcohol consumption, people may even blackout or pass out.
However, we now realize that a hangover isn’t always limited to the body. For many people, there’s a mental health impact that can go along with the physical effects of drinking too much, as well. Often, this manifests as anxiety. And where anxiety and the hangover meet, you get hangxiety.
This anxiety can be related to anything but is often linked to the person’s feelings and nervousness about what happened while drinking, getting drunk, or the experience of being hungover. They may not remember what they did and are worried about finding out—or that they never will. Or they might be stressed about the realization that they need and want to get back to their normal life but that the hangover makes that challenging. Social anxiety, feelings of regret and worry, and general dread are also common. Stress mounts as these feelings build, which can make the physical experience of being hungover all the worse. Plus, if the physical symptoms escalate, anxiety can increase, as well.
What Is Hangxiety?
The word hangxiety was formed from a combination of words hangover and anxiety. Despite being a relatively new term, hangxiety is a well-documented psychological component of having a hangover. Not everyone gets hangxiety but many do—and always have. What’s new is that this emotional impact of a hangover is now more widely recognized.
Hangxiety is experienced differently by different people. However, generally, it is described as an uneasy or stressed feeling that occurs during a hangover. Some people go so far as to call it a feeling of dread or intense panic or anxiety. As the body processes the alcohol from the body, you physically experience a mild form of withdrawal. This produces nervousness and jitteriness. These physical feelings of restlessness and stress naturally can turn into feelings of full-blown emotional anxiety.
Sometimes this anxiety may be about poor choices you made while drunk or maybe even just about poor choices you could have made by didn’t. You may not remember everything (or anything) you did while drunk. So, anxiety may build as you wonder what happened and you may feel very distressed about this lack of memory.
You also may feel anxiety, confusion, or regret over things that don’t directly relate to being drunk at all, such as concerns about your career, family, financial, or romantic life. You might feel uncomfortable or worried about the physical symptoms you are experiencing during the hangover. Or you could be frustrated with yourself for drinking so much that you now feel so terrible. Or you may simply feel anxious about how long it will take to start feeling better.
For people that experience anxiety in their normal, everyday lives, you may feel a rush of anxiety sweep in once the relaxation, endorphins, and reduced inhibitions from drinking begin to lift. This anxiety may feel heightened in contrast to the relative relief from your anxiety symptoms when you were drunk. Unfortunately, the good feelings many experience when drinking, don’t last. And over indulging often leaves you feeling worse than before.
Do I Have Hangxiety?
If you’re wondering if you have hangxiety, there are some fairly easy ways to tell. Firstly, tune in to how you are feeling mentally when you have a hangover. If you feel particularly anxious after excessive drinking, then it’s likely that you are prone to having hangxiety. Consider if your stress level feels elevated and if you are having trouble coping emotionally in addition to your physical symptoms.
Ask yourself if you feel distressed, nervous, worried, unhappy, or on edge. If so, it’s probably hangover anxiety.
If you do have hangxiety, know that feeling anxious is a common reaction to getting drunk. Also, know that as your body recovers from drinking too much, your mind should find relief as well. In the meantime, try the below strategies and tricks for dealing with hangxiety.
How to Cope With Hangxiety
Sadly, there is no magic cure for a hangover—and there’s no surefire way to erase hangxiety either. However, there are some key ways to cope with this uncomfortable psychological reaction to drinking too much.
These strategies are very similar to those that can help with the physical symptoms of a hangover. They include getting as much rest as possible, drinking a lot of water or other hydrating (non-alcoholic) beverages, and eating bland, light foods, if tolerated. Avoid bright lights, loud noises, and other distracting environments.
Taking a shower or bath can be quite helpful as well. Just be sure that you’re not so dizzy that you’re in danger of falling. Treating your headache with ibuprofen or acetaminophen and/or a cold compress on your forehead also tends to be beneficial. Once your body is feeling better, anxiety symptoms often recede as well.
Using stress-relieving tactics can also help calm your anxiety. These include deep breathing and other breathing exercises, mindfulness, light yoga or stretching, getting fresh air, walking around the block, mediation, visualization techniques, and talking with a supportive friend (or a therapist). Contact your doctor or counselor if you’re still having trouble coping after trying these techniques.
Treating any underlying anxiety you have, such as social anxiety, can also help reduce the hangxiety you feel when hungover. Utilizing any strategies you use when coping with your anxiety in other contexts may also be effective when hungover.
Getting a Better Understanding of Hangxiety
Drinking too much often leads to a hangover, with all its yucky, head-spinning side effects. This experience isn’t limited to the physical realm, but also can have emotional ramifications, called hangxiety, as well. While hangxiety can be quite challenging to deal with, it is quite common, usually short-lived, and can be reduced in severity if you use effective coping mechanisms like self-awareness, self-care, and patience.
The good news is that once you know more about what hangxiety is and how to deal with it, you are in a better position to deal with it—and prevent it from ruining your day. Plus, having a better understanding of hangover anxiety may provide more incentive next time to stop drinking in time to prevent getting a hangover in the first place.