The day after drinking, you might wake up feeling nauseous and have a bad headache. You might not want to move at all and plan to spend the whole day in bed. You can also wake up feeling anxious and paranoid. You could be going over things you said the night before and worrying about what people think of you, or you might generally feel uneasy for the day. Lots of people experience this after drinking, and there are a few different options you can try to help you cope with it.
Why do I feel anxious the day after drinking?
Feeling anxious after a night of drinking, also known as “hangxiety”, is a common symptom of a hangover. If you have anxiety, this experience can be even more intense and it can even affect how well you function.
When you drink, your brain produces dopamine, a chemical that makes you feel happy. You want to drink more as a way to hold onto that feeling, but this happiness is short-lived and this chemical reaction slows down and increases your levels of anxiety. Although your brain may be producing happy chemicals, alcohol is actually a depressant, which can ultimately make you feel much worse.
The feelings of anxiety usually take shape while you are asleep, and you might wake up in a panic. You might go over everything you remember saying the night before. You might find yourself rushing to see if you sent any embarrassing texts or uploaded any photos or videos online. If you’re struggling to remember what happened, it can make your anxiety even worse.
How to cope with day-after-drinking anxiety
Fortunately, there are ways you can deal with this anxiety as your brain settles down.
Here are a few things you could try:
Take time for self-care
The best thing you can do for yourself right now is look after yourself. Taking time for some self care can be a good way to ease your anxiety and start to feel more like yourself. Self care looks different for everyone, but spending some time doing something enjoyable or relaxing for you can help. Find out more about practicing self care.
Mindfulness can help to ground you in the moment and avoid focusing too much on what has happened in the past or what could happen in the future. Instead, you return your thoughts again and again to the present moment. Here are five mindfulness exercises you can try.
Focus on your breathing
Focus on your breathing. Feel your heartbeat slow down and ease into relaxing as much as you can. Try this breathing exercise to help with anxiety.
Be kind to yourself
Be kind to yourself. You are probably being too hard on yourself, so take a step back and treat yourself compassionately. Try to practice some self-compassion, and if you can, make time to do some self-care.
Avoid your phone
Stay away from your phone as much as you can. Social media might only make your anxiety worse in this case, so put your phone down and focus on the present. Consider doing a digital detox so that you can really benefit from a break from your phone.
Eat well and drink water
Eat a balanced meal and stay hydrated. It will help your body recover and get you back on track as soon as possible.
Learn from this experience
One important thing to keep in mind is to learn from your “hangxiety”. If having more than a couple of drinks causes you anxiety or other physical or mental health problems the day after, you can learn from that. Think about drinking safely, setting limits to how much you drink and sticking to them. Your mental health is too important not to.
If your anxiety after drinking lasts longer a 24 hour-cycle and/or intensifies, reach out and make an appointment with your doctor.
If the anxiety that comes after drinking is too much for you to handle, there’s lots of other ways to stay social without having to be around alcohol.
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