• Deanne Pandey

Ever heard of ‘Hangxiety’? Here’s everything you need to know.

By the reading the word itself it is no mystery that it is a mix of hangover and anxiety. All of us are familiar with the usual physical symptoms of a hangover — the pounding headache, the nausea, the inability to cope up with the daily routine right away. But hangovers can have psychological symptoms too, especially feelings of anxiety. But this is not just a new coined hip word. Hangxiety has a strong scientific relevance which adds a deeper meaning to it.

How does hangxiety exactly work?

Drinking alcohol dumps a flood of dopamine into the pleasure centre of the brain. The feel-good chemical swirls through your head, but the rush only lasts for a short while. When dopamine levels dip back down, feelings of anxiety rebound. Thus, it is more likely to be experienced by people who are shy or who already experience anxiety and depression disorders. When you’re drinking, you feel relaxed and calm. When you stop drinking, you have withdrawal symptoms. Your body gets used to that crutch to feel calm. Once that goes away and anxiety often follows. Interrupted sleep often follows too when people drink in excess, and feelings of depression and anxiety can get even worse.

Who is more likely to experience hangxiety?

Not everyone of us deals with hangxiety after a night of heavy drinking. So whom does it really affect? If you live with anxiety, particularly social anxiety, you may find that a drink or two helps you relax and cope with nervous or anxious feelings before or during a social event. Although once it wears off the physical symptoms of a hangover and your prevalent anxiety makes it worse. The same may follow with those who resort to alcohol for emotional withdrawal. Not just this, hangxiety can also be experienced when you are trying to quit alcohol. Folic acid deficient people and people who are dehydrated may also experience this mayhem.

How to make it all better?

1. Make some physical changes

As mentioned above, hangxiety is an aftermath of both physical and psychological symptoms, making some improvements in the physical department may actually help deal with hangxiety. Drink plenty of water and keep your diet light throughout the day. Make sure you get enough sleep to replenish your body cycle.

2. Change your perspective

Hangxiety is often followed by a pandora of anxious thoughts from the night before. Worrying about what you might have said or done in an intoxicated state is an inevitable part of hanxiety. Fixating on what happened can make your feelings worse. If you were with a close friend, you might feel reassured by talking to them. But for the moment, it might help to take a few minutes and examine your thoughts.

3. Breathing exercises and meditation

Practice mindfulness by meditating or practices some simple deep breathing techniques. Don’t try to judge your thoughts, avoid them, or unpack them. Simply notice them as they come up into your awareness. Deep, slow breathing can also help you relax and slow a racing or pounding heart. Breathe in while counting to four, then breathe out while counting to four again. Do this for a few minutes, until you notice your heartbeat slowing down. You can also try the 4-7-8 breathing technique.

Don’t let hangxiety ruin your festive season. Just some simple changes can help you deal with it mindfully.

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