But some of us have the added burden of “hangxiety” — the term coined to describe feelings of guilt that worsen as the day goes on.
Those fears include worrying about conversations you had the night before, how many calories you consumed, or regret at having written off the whole day due to a hangover.
New research from University College London revealed shy people are more likely to experience these fears.
After nearly a month of festive parties, and with New Year’s Eve coming, hangxiety can loom large.
Top psychologist and behavioural expert Jo Hemmings gives helpful hints on how you can deal with day-after-dread.
Why do we get hangxiety?
Jo says: “As alcohol leaves the body during the night, it depletes your levels of serotonin — the chemical that regulates our mood.
“When you eventually wake up, your levels are incredibly low, meaning you wake in a state of anxiety.
“If you’ve had standard hangovers in the past and then experience your first ‘hangxiety’ attack, you are much more likely to suffer with it in the future.
“This is because our brains ‘remember’ the additional feelings of stress, guilt and concern which increases the chances of those feelings reoccurring.
“An excess of alcohol wreaks havoc with our minds.
“Our memories of the evening are confused. Sometimes what we did, who we spoke to, or what we said seem blurry or the memories are clear but the order they happened are not.
“That makes us anxious. And for those of us who naturally do not like being ‘out of control’, this anxiety is automatically heightened.
“While drinking can give you feelings of euphoria initially, alcohol is actually a depressant.
“If you are not in the best mood before you start drinking or already feeling anxious, stressed or worried about something — potentially unrelated to the evening — drinking a lot can amplify those feelings, making you even more anxious.”
How to get rid of hangxiety
Stick to booze limit. If you’re very shy you are more likely to experience hangxiety, perhaps drinking more initially to calm nerves. Therefore, limit your alcohol intake and drink water between every alcoholic beverage.
Don’t mix your drinks. Cocktails, shots, beer and wine is a recipe for particularly bad hangxiety. The different alcohols have different by-products which act with each other to produce more toxins — those that make us feel bad.
Eat before your big night. Make sure you eat something before you drink. Slow- release energy foods can help keep your mood levels more consistent, as they’ll help to stop your blood sugars from plummeting. It also helps to line the stomach to make the alcohol absorb more slowly into the blood stream.
Choose long drinks. Adding more tonic or soda keeps you more hydrated. Studies have found beginning the night dehydrated affects your levels of concentration and can bring on feelings of depression — all contributers to hangxiety. Diet mixers help too as the sugar in fizzy drinks can contribute to low blood glucose the following day.
Get up. To avoid over-thinking what you said or did the night before, the best advice is to get up, eat to level out your blood-sugar levels, then go for a walk in the fresh air to get the blood pumping and give you fresh perspective. Lying in bed mulling over the night is only going to make cortisol levels increase and heighten your worries.
Swerve social media. Seeing those “perfect” Insta snaps of your friends looking happy and healthy on a day out can make us feel even lower and more wretched, because it’s so far from our current state. Comparing yourselves to others helps nobody. While Twitter can get us feeling angry and confrontational just by reading it.
Own your guilt. Admitting or regretting what happened can alleviate hangxiety. If you immediately address a conversation or action, you decrease some of the humiliation by owning it, as well as being able to move on mentally rather than worrying about it being a bigger deal than it was. Speak to friends if you’re unsure of exactly what was said, but make sure they don’t overblow the situation.
And . . . breathe. Breathing can help towards curing hangxiety. Try the 555 technique — get as comfortable as you can, close your eyes, breathe in to a count of five, hold your breath to a count of five, then breathe out for five. When you breathe deeply like this it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax.
Stay calm. Avoid anything that is likely to make your adrenalin surge even higher. Horror films or scary TV shows are worth avoiding as well, as anything too energetic that is likely to cause your body stress. It’s also worth staying out of any debates or arguments. All the above can top up anxiety levels rather than lower them.
Catch up on sleep. Have an early night the day after. The quality of your sleep the night you have been drinking will be poor as dehydration affects your shut-eye. Getting your sleep cycle back to normal as soon as possible will refresh both body and mind.
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