Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
You wake up from a night of drinking—and you don’t feel great. Whether it’s your throbbing head, your rampant craving for water (water! water!), or the need to go back to bed immediately, hangovers take a toll on your body. But, there’s something else that may crop up as you crawl back under the covers—anxious thoughts. Suddenly, you’re feeling increasingly stressed and rethinking, well, everything. You may be anxious about the previous night—what was said, who you spoke to, where you were—or anxious about nothing in particular. Sound familiar? This is hangxiety.
Hangxiety (a meshing of “hangover” and “anxiety”) sums up what you may experiencing after a night of drinking. Not only are you hungover, you’re also anxious. And no, you don’t have to have an anxiety disorder or be an anxious person to experience hangxiety. Chelsea Connors, a life coach and former therapist, says that when you consume alcohol, alcohol suppresses the brain, causing fewer neurons to fire off. This biological change spurs the relaxed state you may feel when you drink. It also makes you less aware, contributing to a tendency to do or say things that you may not say or do in a sober state.
So, while when you’re drinking you may feel like a free bird, saying things with zero inhibition, the next morning this supposed “freedom” may trigger anxious feelings. In addition to asking yourself, “how long does a hangover last?,” you may also be nervously rethinking all of the things you did and said the previous night.
How to avoid hangxiety
Not a fan of the combination of anxiety and a hangover? There are some steps you can take before a night out to prevent hangxiety the next day. However, the only real way to completely avoid the potential of hangxiety is to refrain from drinking. And that may be easier than you think. With so many non-alcoholic wines and beers now available, you can still enjoy the taste of a lager or a Chardonnay with none of the repercussions of alcohol consumption. However, if you do choose to drink, Connors offers some recommendations to decrease the possibility of next-day hangxiety.
See also: The Best Non-Alcoholic Drinks
Go into the night with a plan
Connors recommends making a plan for how much you’re going to drink—and when you’re going to stop drinking—before you go out. You can keep a number of drinks in mind or have a friend hold you accountable. “The more that you drink, the more that our guardrails kind of fall off,” Connors says. “So having support around [you] is going to be really helpful.”
Evaluate your social circle
Spend some time thinking about the people you spend your time with, Connors says. Is your circle pressuring you into drinking? Are they respectful of your decision to set limits? If your friends aren’t supportive of your decision to drink less, you may want to reevaluate how you spend time with those people.
Manage your expectations for the next day
While a hangover only typically lasts a day or so, you want to be prepared for what that day may look like if you do experience hangxiety. Connors says if you’re someone who frequently experiences anxiety, you may want to set aside some time and space for yourself the following day to recenter yourself. This may be a yoga class, a meditation session, or a phone call with a friend. This is your time to take care of yourself—your body needs it.