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How to deal with day after drinking anxiety

After a night of drinking, you might be feeling anxious the next day

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health

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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 worry about what people think of you, or you might generally feel uneasy for the day. 

Lots of people experience this, and there are a few different tricks 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: 

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.

Try mindfulness

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 ways to practice mindfulness from a SpunOut volunteer.

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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Published Novem­ber 15th2019
Last updated Octo­ber 25th2020
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