This is why your hangxiety is so bad at the moment

woman holding her head

Why are we getting such bad hangover anxiety at the moment? (Picture: Getty)

Whether it’s chilling in a park, pub or restaurant, we’ve all been enjoying drinks with friends since restrictions have lifted. 

However, following a year of limited socialising, we’re adjusting to a different way of living. 

After all, there are lots of new things to navigate in a post-lockdown world, including the loss of spontaneous plans, budgeting for the first time in over a year, suffering from ‘social-block’ and more.

But if you’ve been out and about drinking recently you may have noticed another change. Specifically, the morning after an event.

Hangover anxiety feels worse than ever before. 

This hangxiety (also known as ‘beer fear’) is nothing new, lots of people have experienced it for years – but it seems particularly bad at the moment.

So why is this?

Kristy Lomas, a multi-disciplined therapist and founder of The Ki Retreat, tells ‘It’s a well known fact that alcohol increases anxiety. Along with being a depressant, it changes levels of serotonin and other chemicals within the brain.’

But there’s also the fact that there’s a lot of anxiety, in general, floating around at the moment, about numerous things – whether it’s new variants, the delay of Freedom Day or the return to the office.

What’s more, we haven’t been consistently socialising with our friends in such a long time – and Kristy says this is bound to be a key reason why hangxiety is peaking.

She adds: ‘After so long being kept away from social situations, there has been a huge rise in social anxiety. 

‘People feel as though they have forgotten how to socialise, and there is also an underlying anxiety around getting back to normal, or the prospect of another lockdown.

‘People are enjoying socialising again, and alcohol is playing a part in that. But it’s a double edged sword.

‘It helps to relax those that may be feeling anxious in going out and mixing in public again. However, it also leads to a rise in hangxiety, which can sometimes last for days. This then amplifies anxious feelings for the next social interaction.’

Young male character embracing their knees, emotional stress, mental health

Social anxiety and being more introspective (following lockdown) could be reasons behind it (Picture: Getty)

Alongside this social anxiety element, Floss Knight – a psychotherapist and founding director of UK Therapy Guide – offers another reason why we’re struggling with it at the moment. 

This is because lockdown – and considerable amounts of time on our own – has made us more insular and self-reflective than we previously were. 

She says: ‘The pandemic has encouraged many people to be more introspective.’

Essentially, this might mean we are being too hard on ourselves and overthinking our actions. 

Floss adds: ‘This self-reflection can be positive but it’s important to check in and recognise how you’re feeling. Why are you worried? Will you feel better if you write these concerns down?’

Not to mention there are the social pressures that are playing on our minds and the physical exhaustion that our bodies are grappling with, as we gradually return to our pre-pandemic lifestyles.

Floss adds: ‘After so much time at home over the last 15 months, many people have put considerable pressure and expectation on the return to “normal” socialising. Particularly sociable people have put post-lockdown events of all sizes on a pedestal. 

‘While we’ve been in lockdown, we have forgotten how much energy we expend while socialising. That includes all the time spent planning, the actual act of getting from A to B, and then all the time with other people. Anyone who has limited interaction over the last year will be left feeling tired even before alcohol enters the equation.

‘Waking up after time seeing friends, many are feeling worn out and worried about behaviour. Humans are very resilient but there are limits to how quickly we can readjust after over a year of ongoing lockdowns. 

‘We simply haven’t been used to these kinds of events and interactions.’

That in itself is enough to make people feel a little overwhelmed and anxious about their behaviour.

Do you have a story to share?

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