What is Hangxiety and What is it Trying to Tell Me?
Recently I was introduced to the term “hangxiety” by a client to describe their heightened state of anxiety after a night of drinking. We laughed at the pun, processed the anxiety and began to explore the clients goals for this particular session.
However, the term stuck with me and I thought about it for a while. The term hangxiety is one of the many examples for how our society has accepted and normalized alcohol use and abuse as well as its unpleasant consequences.
Sometimes anxiety comes with an important message and I’d like to say that’s the case for hangxiety as well. Perhaps it’s bringing the message that it’s time for you to examine your relationship with alcohol.
If a friend told me that every day after work, she ate fast food for dinner and the next day it made her so anxious that she called out sick, I would probably tell that friend to consider not eating fast food so often. Clearly, the negative consequences were outweighing any of the mood boosting effects she was getting from the tastiness of the food, right?
So, why does the tune of the conversation turn uncomfortable so suddenly if we apply that same inquiry towards alcohol? Many of the clients I have worked with share the following reasons for why they struggle to quit drinking:
they use it to de-stress from a hard day of work,
they think that parties won’t be fun without it,
they like the taste of a good cocktail, and so on.
In my clients' minds, these are perfectly valid reasons, but in the face of chronic “hangxiety”- or worse persistent health issues, strained relationships, and financial hardship - maybe it’s time to reconsider…
Life is a constant cost-benefit analysis of our decisions. My guess is that if you’re reading this article, you’re beginning to wonder if the costs of your drinking have begun to outweigh the benefits or perhaps you realize that it’s gotten out of control and you need to make a change. It’s not an easy conclusion to come to because it requires that we accept the following: that something we continue to do is detrimental to our well-being, but we are uncertain if we can, or even want to, stop doing it.
It’s Time to Examine Your Relationship with Alcohol:
To help my clients begin to examine their relationship with alcohol, I first encourage them to redefine what “stop” means to them. Is that completely quitting alcohol or is there a goal of moderation? Is it practicing harm reduction methods or leaning into total abstinence?
Usually, helping them find a definition that is somewhere in between the extremes of total abstinence and making no changes, makes beginning this journey a bit easier. It makes initiating change less intimidating because it is not as drastic nor does it completely deny them of what they perceive to be the benefits of their drinking.
Additionally, it promotes a growth focus instead of a restriction approach to improving their relationship with alcohol. They are making a change to improve their overall quality of life rather than having to cut something out because they can no longer have it. However, it’s important to explore this for yourself to determine the best approach for your personality, lifestyle and overall well-being.
Ready to Change Your Relationship with Alcohol? Therapy Can Help!
When building a new habit, starting is usually the hardest part. With the right approach, some motivation and a knowledgeable counselor, it will be that much easier. Improving your relationship with alcohol, no matter what that means for you, can help you enjoy life more fully and maybe experience a little less “hangxiety” along the way.
If you’re ready to gain more clarity regarding your next steps in your relationship with alcohol or other addictive behaviors, I invite you to contact me for a complimentary consultation at 954-391-5305 so we can discuss how I can help.
For more information about my approach or my services, click here.