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How and Why to Prepare for Hangover Anxiety

We all know that when we are hungover, we feel all kinds of crummy and having hangover anxiety can double that crummy feeling. For those that have high anxiety sensitivity (and you know who you are, but see below for assessment of anxiety sensitivity) when your body feels crummy or out of a state of homeostasis in some way, this will trigger the anxiety response of “Oh no, something is wrong, you need to do something”.

If you experience high anxiety sensitivity, your hangover may consist of a one-two punch of all of the physical symptoms we traditionally think of when imagining the state of being hungover, as well as that enhanced anxiety and discomfort associated with the brain entering “red alert”/threat mode due to these uncomfortable physical sensations.

What this means for a reader who tends to experience high anxiety sensitivity is that they would benefit from considering the costs and benefits of excessive drinking. Sometimes it may be worth it and sometimes it may not be. Balance and restraint is always a good thing for everyone’s relationship with alcohol, whether they tend to get increased anxiety post bender or not. When you do decide to drink, it may be helpful to keep the below discussion in mind.


How does being prepared about being anxious make you less anxious?

Light On Anxiety Answer:

It’s like driving on the highway and seeing a warning sign of difficult terrain ahead. After noting this sign, you can slow down and drive more carefully. Similarly, if you realize you may be more anxious you can try to move through your morning with a slower, more gentle pace. Leaving yourself a note reminding yourself that you’re going to feel hungover and that’s normal is just like that warning sign. By remembering this is just what anxiety feels like and it is not surprising that is showing up, you can just feel the anxiety without feeling anxious about the anxiety.


Can you explain how focusing your mind on something else versus the anxiety is a good idea?

Light On Anxiety Answer:

When anxiety is in false alarm mode, it is sending you a signal that something is wrong when you are actually safe and sound. If you look around your immediate environment and there is no lion attacking you and your pants are not on fire, then chances are this is just trigger-happy anxiety trying to protect you from a threat that does not actually exist. If you give in to the anxiety signal and, for example, check your phone to make sure you didn’t send any strange texts last night or keep going to the bathroom in case you get sick, you are agreeing with your anxiety and strengthening the danger signal for next time. By working on disengaging from the false alarm signal by doing something else, you will help your brain learn that you are not truly in danger.

Anxiety Sensitivity Index 3 (ASI-3) by Taylor (2007)

Anxiety sensitivity is considered to be multidimensional consisting of three-factors: (i) fear of physical symptoms (e.g., “It scares me when my heart beats rapidly.”); (ii) fear of cognitive dyscontrol (e.g., “When I cannot keep my mind on a task, I worry that I might be going crazy.”); and (iii) fear of social concerns (e.g., “When I tremble in the presence of others, I fear what people might think of me.”). Anxiety sensitivity may be thought of as a conscious, cognitive reactivity to the physical manifestations of anxiety.

If you have a similar questions or concern, please schedule a call with Light On Anxiety to explore effective treatment for your anxiety or related conditions.

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