Actually useful things you can do right now to deal with hangxiety

Has a boozy weekend left you feeling down and on edge? Hangxiety is real, but there are things you can do to help. By Imy Brighty-Potts.

Imy Brighty-Potts
Monday 31 October 2022 12:52 GMT
A big weekend might have you feeling anxious (Alamy/PA)
A big weekend might have you feeling anxious (Alamy/PA)

If a big weekend of Halloween parties has left you with a frightful hangover, you might be feeling a bit more anxious than usual.

It’s no secret excessive drinking can potentially have a detrimental effect on your physical and mental health – and it’s something we might be thinking more about, particularly with Christmas party season on the horizon.

“While alcohol may initially make you feel more confident and less anxious, if used regularly over the long term it can make you more vulnerable to mental health conditions like depression and anxiety,” suggests Dr Bryony Henderson, lead GP from online therapy service Livi (

“Alcohol can disrupt the balance of chemicals and processes in your brain and affect your thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

“You may be surprised to learn that although there is initial euphoria, alcohol is a depressant, so people who already have mental health problems – including anxiety – may find this gets worse. In fact, this phenomenon has been so widely reported that the term ‘hangxiety’ is frequently used to describe feelings of anxiety induced by alcohol.”

While we don’t recommend overindulging in alcohol – see your GP if you have any concerns about how much you’re drinking – if you do find yourself suffering from hangxiety, there are a few practical steps you can take to make yourself feel better…

Try breathing exercises

Henderson recommends breathing exercises to calm your nervous system and reduce stress in your body.

“Sit or lie down comfortably, exhale completely, gently and slowly inhale through your nose for the count of four. Then gently exhale through your mouth for the count of four. Pause and hold for the count of four,” she advises.

“As you breathe, imagine your breath moving around the image of a square. Repeat for a couple of minutes, or until you feel calmer.”

You might want to practise breathing exercises when you’re relaxed – that way, it could become second nature when you’re feeling overwhelmed and anxious.

Get active

“When you feel anxious and hungover, it can make you want to curl up in a little ball,” says Henderson.

“Yet the best thing is to do the opposite – get moving. For example, jumping, swaying, stretching or dancing to music can help shift your energy from an anxious state to a calmer one.”

There could also be longer-term benefits to getting your body moving. “Exercise triggers the release of endorphins – ‘feelgood’ chemicals in the brain – that enhance emotional wellbeing,” suggests Henderson. “Research shows high intensity aerobic exercise like jogging, running or brisk walking, two to five times a week for at least two weeks, is effective in reducing general anxiety.”

Be kind to yourself

For clinical psychologist Dr Marianne Trent (, “Self-compassion is key” when you’re struggling with hangxiety.

“When we are under the influence of substances like alcohol, our inhibitions may drop and you may do or say things you wouldn’t normally,” she says.

The next day, everything you did might be swirling around your head, but Trent urges you to remember: “People around you will know you’re drinking, and are probably not judging you in the same way as you are judging yourself.”

Take care of yourself

“Take care of yourself and nourish yourself well, don’t re-sedate yourself with alcohol, just slow down and communicate with people about how you are feeling,” suggests Trent.

By drinking lots of water and eating healthy food, your body will hopefully start to process the booze – and you might find your head feels a bit clearer.

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