Hangxiety is when you feel extra anxious after drinking alcohol, on top of the usual hangover symptoms.
It’s not uncommon for introverts to avoid social situations that leave them feeling overstimulated and drained. So, when faced with attending a work party or their best friend’s wedding, they might pour themselves an alcoholic drink to take the edge off.
While there’s nothing wrong with having a glass of wine to unwind or loosen up, researchers recently found that shy people were more susceptible to “hangxiety” — a state of heightened anxiety during hangovers. Of course, not every introvert is shy, but introverts and shy people are both prone to having social anxiety, which can lead to drinking some “liquid courage” to make them feel better… at least temporarily.
Hangxiety is a concern for those who prefer calmer moments to quiet their thoughts and feelings. If introverts aren’t careful, hangxiety could lead to a bad habit. Plus, introverts already have to worry about having an “introvert hangover” — so the last thing they need is an alcohol-induced hangover, too.
Here’s everything you need to know about hangxiety and how to cope.
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Easing Anxiety With Alcohol — Perhaps Not the Best Idea
Introversion and social anxiety are two different things. Whereas introverts value alone time to recharge and process their thoughts, having social anxiety is a fear of people that can affect one’s mental health and well-being. You can be an introvert without having social anxiety. However, many introverts do become anxious around others.
Society has historically associated introversion with withdrawing from people as a coping method — which is why some introverts may seek jobs requiring minimal socializing. Social anxiety can be crippling for some introverts, who may fear being judged or humiliating themselves to the point that they avoid gatherings altogether. Yet, as innately social creatures, isolating oneself from the world can pose a higher risk of depression and anxiety, research has found.
According to the study I mentioned earlier, alcohol may not be the best strategy for fitting in, especially since alcohol can increase anxiety and depression. Instead, finding alternative coping strategies to get through social situations is recommended and more ideal.
It’s easy to say you should simply stay away from alcohol at overstimulating gatherings, but it’s easier said than done, especially if you have relied on having some drinks to help ease your nerves. There are work dinners and networking events to attend, not to mention your best friend’s birthday party. How can you manage without alcohol, you may wonder. One should be able to have a drink with friends if they choose… right?
Thankfully, there are ways to avoid the dreaded hangxiety and enjoy a drink safely. These four tips can help.
4 Tips for Preventing Hangxiety
1. Meditate before you attend the event.
When you’re one of the “quiet ones,” it might seem like life throws lemons at you — often. Whether it’s a team meeting, drinks with clients, or dinner with friends, it can be hard for introverts to adapt to environments made for extroverts. However, sitting cross-legged on the floor with your eyes closed can induce a wave of relaxation in anyone. Even if you’re the type of introvert who cannot focus well, just try closing your eyes for a few moments (you don’t have to sit cross-legged if you don’t want to!).
Focused breathing is an excellent way to prepare for scary or uncomfortable social situations. Meditating just five to 10 minutes before heading out the door will give you more clarity on how to handle hard things or conversations you would prefer not to deal with.
Spending 15 minutes outside (three times a week) is also a great way to enter a meditative state. Nature is a great relaxation outlet for introverts, whether you simply listen to the quiet surroundings or a favorite podcast or calming music. It will boost your dopamine and serotonin levels, too, which will up your mood and help you relax.
In essence, if you can ease some of your anxiety in advance, you might find you don’t need to drink as much — or at all — when you go out. Meditation will ultimately help you gain greater control over your stress instead of allowing it to maintain its hold over you.
2.Prepare for social events as much as possible without alcohol.
Since many people use alcohol as a social lubricant, a way to avoid it is by being as prepared as possible for a social outing. You can plan conversations (and questions you’ll ask people) in advance, become a more active listener, and practice small talk with people in your day-to-day life (from a store cashier to waiter). That way, you’ll be more ready for the social event at hand.
Is social anxiety holding you back?
Although social anxiety is not the same thing as introversion, many introverts experience this painful and isolating condition. The truth is you can beat social anxiety, and our partner Natasha Daniels can show you how. This means more relaxed conversations, more enjoyable work/school days, and more social invitations that you don’t immediately decline (unless you want to, of course!). Click here to check out her online class for kids and adults, How to Crush Social Anxiety.
3. Eat before you drink — and drink a lot of water, too.
Always have something to eat before you head out the door. Food in your belly will slow down alcohol absorption in the bloodstream and reduce hangover symptoms the following day.
Bananas, in particular, are one of the best foods you can eat before drinking. Bananas have plenty of potassium — which your body loses as you drink — and contain about 75% water, lowering your risk of dehydration. They are also fibrous with acid-neutralizing properties — a significant help to those who get stomach aches from alcohol.
Other helpful foods are eggs and avocado — a healthy source of protein that will give you energy, reduce alcohol absorption, and aid digestion.
And another reason to eat in advance? To prevent getting “hangry”: hungry + angry, which is a biochemical reaction caused by low blood sugar. Plus, since alcohol can make us more emotional, making sure you have food in your system is extra important. And it will also give you more energy for those social interactions!
Let’s also not forget about the importance of drinking plenty of water, both before you go out and while you are out. Alcohol can easily dehydrate you, so it’s important to have water on hand.
4. Limit yourself to few, or no, drinks.
If there’s anything introverts are familiar with, it’s self-discipline. Some might call you a master at setting and sticking to every goal until the end. Maybe it’s because you hold yourself to the highest standards or simply because you like the challenge. Regardless, your self-discipline can help you prevent hangxiety.
Why not try committing to an alcohol-free outing? With the popularity of mocktails these days, no one will even know your drink contains no alcohol!
But, yes, perhaps you still want to enjoy a drink with friends. So limit yourself to just one beverage. Knowing how much alcohol you can handle before you get a buzz is also crucial; use those introspective introvert skills to assess.
Don’t Let Hangxiety Ruin a Good Time
Introverts with social anxiety or those who are shy don’t need to rely on alcohol to enjoy themselves for a night out on the town. There are several ways to prepare for socializing with friends and stimulating environments without drinking. The more you get used to going out without alcohol, the easier it will get.
You might like:
- 12 Signs You Have an ‘Introvert Hangover’ (Yes, It’s Real)
- The Highly Sensitive Introvert’s Guide to Quitting (Or Cutting Back On) Alcohol
- 10 Weird Things I Do as a Socially Anxious Introvert
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