Why you've got 'hangxiety' after a big weekend, and how best to treat it

Whether you were grooving at Laneway or just tried to cool off with one too many Coronas, you may be feeling a bit shady after the long weekend. 

Aside from the dry mouth, headache and nausea a hangover can bring, we now have a name for that free-floating anxious, jittery, chest pressure that it sometimes comes as well: hangxiety. 

Hangxiety - or as it's known by Urban Dictionary; the 'Sunday Scaries' - is that feeling of uneasiness and anxiousness, including panicky thoughts that you might have said something obnoxious or texted your ex. 

But it's backed by science. A 2019 study published in psychology journal Personality and Individual Differences found that anxiety after a day of drinking was most prevalent in highly shy people or people who struggle with social anxiety.

This means that if you're already an anxious person, drinking alcohol may help you feel more relaxed in a social situation, but there is an even greater risk that you will feel anxiety the next day.

Writing for The Conversation, Doctor Nicole Lee explains that after a night of drinking, alcohol stimulates the production of a chemical in the brain called GABA, which calms the brain, and blocks the production of glutamate, a chemical associated with anxiety. This combination is why you feel cheerful and relaxed on a night out.

Your brain likes to be in balance, so in response to drinking, it produces more glutamate and blocks GABA. This triggers a spike in the stress-hormone cortisol - cue shaky feelings of panic and an existential crisis. 

Dr Lee recommends that to ease some the symptoms you be gentle with yourself, trying some breathing exercises and some mindfulness practices. This will bring your heart rate back to normal. 

Anything that boosts serotonin will also help, so get out for a walk or go and laugh with a friend - they might also make you feel more reassured about the night before. 

The best way to avoid hangxiety is to know your limits, count your drinks and slow down - or avoid it altogether. 

We'll raise a Kombucha to that.