Mental Health Coach Talks ‘Sober Curious’

Friday 19th Jan 2024 |

There are many taking to online to share their alcohol-free approach to life, not just for Dry Jan. @Jwarnockk (over half a million views), @allymcilwrath shares her journey (1.4 million views) and Kate Elisabeth shared her sober curious experience (269.5k views).

Sober Curious has over 826.4 MILLION views on TikTok. Are Gen Z and millennials less bothered about alcohol with the connections to “hangxiety”?

Sober Curious

Mental Health Coach, Cai Graham, says, “Anxiety induced by alcohol, also referred colloquially as hangxiety, is one of the many side effects that alcohol has on our mind and body. Feeling anxious or even depressed the morning after drinking, particularly binge drinking, isn’t uncommon as alcohol is a depressant, meaning it can cause us to feel relaxed at first, but once it starts to wear off, there can be guilt, shame and anxiety. The rebound effect of drinking can also be heightened if you have disturbed sleep, are dehydrated and have low sugar levels. Alcohol can also cause a faster heartbeat, increased cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and decrease the GABA neurotransmitter (known for creating a calming effect). 

Anxiety is completely unique to the individual and it can depend on how you have generally been feeling before drinking, as it can worsen existing anxiety and it depends what the source of your anxiousness is about. In some cases, it might be guilt of productivity, work-related, feeling like you’ve ruined a healthy streak, worrying about exchanges you had whilst under-the-influence, or it could be not feeling good enough, financial problems, exhaustion, or feeling under pressure. 

To help move forward from your hangover anxiety, there are some steps you can take to help manage your mind and wellbeing… 

Speaking from experience, I gave up the booze about 13 years ago. Not because I was an alcoholic – but because if I hadn’t taken control quickly, I might soon have become one. I was drinking daily and alcohol was my crutch. It numbed the chaos and the stress. Remember, it’s important to listen to your body and mind, allowing yourself the time and care needed for a full recovery. Implementing these steps can contribute to easing hangover anxiety and promoting overall wellbeing. 

Hydration and Nutrition: 

Start by rehydrating your body with water and electrolyte-rich drinks to counter dehydration from alcohol. Have a nutritious meal to restore essential nutrients. 

Rest and Relaxation: 

Allow yourself time to rest and recover. Sleep and relaxation can help your body and mind recover from the physical and emotional stress caused by a hangover. You are not a lazy layabout – your body genuinely needs time to heal. 

Physical Activity: 

Engage in light physical activities like stretching, yoga, or a gentle walk. Exercise can release endorphins and improve your mood you might not feel like it at the time – but your mind and body will thank you afterwards. 

Mindfulness and Breathing Exercises: 

Practice mindfulness or deep breathing exercises to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. Focus on your breath to calm your mind and body. 

Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine: 

This goes without saying. I know that the “hair of the dog” lessens the headache – but you are just dehydrating yourself even further. So, refrain from consuming more alcohol or caffeine as it can exacerbate anxiety and worsen the hangover. Stick to water and herbal teas. 

Positive Self-Talk and Acceptance: 

Be gentle with yourself and avoid self-criticism. Understand that everyone makes mistakes and has off days. Acceptance can help reduce anxiety. I used to get paranoid the morning after a night out. I’d constantly be on my phone – checking that there was no “proof” that I had behaved badly or waiting for messages from others. I was terrified that I might have upset or annoyed someone. In truth, I never did – but that didn’t ease the paranoia. 

Reach Out for Support: 

Talk to a friend or a mental health professional about your feelings of anxiety. Sometimes, sharing your concerns can provide relief and guidance. There are so many brilliant “Sober clubs” on social media nowadays. 

Engage in Relaxing Activities: 

Participate in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as listening to music, reading a book, or watching a movie. 

Plan Ahead: 

Mindful activity

Reflect on the situation and consider ways to prevent future hangover anxiety by moderating alcohol consumption and pacing yourself when drinking. I gave up before mocktails were a thing. The non-alcoholic drinks now are fantastic – and you don’t have to feel like you are missing out. 

Be the designated driver:

Friends will love you for it – and the morning after will feel like a breeze. 

Professional Help if Needed: 

If hangover anxiety persists or becomes overwhelming, consider reaching out to a mental health professional for guidance and support – Give Cai Graham a shout! 

To be brutally honest – I have a technique called Changing Pictures that I use with my anxiety clients, which is ideal for giving up booze.  I also used it to help me give up chocolate 8 years ago and I have not touched either since; mainly because there are no cravings and struggles involved.” 

Wave Goodbye To Seasonal Affective Disorder