Facing Your Beer Fears
At the tail-end of college, most people experience post-drinking sadness (PDS), or what I like to call Beer Fears. This feeling can be equated to the “Sunday scaries,” but you usually feel existential dread, some heightened anxiety, and probably a little bit of self-loathing. According to Self Magazine, PDS equates to suffering from alcohol withdrawal with heightened anxiety as a symptom. The Cleveland Clinic lists out some triggers for PDS including lack of sleep, dehydration, and neutralized mood stabilizers.
PDS is almost always accompanied with analyzing every drunken interaction you may have had, and replaying it over and over again. Sometimes you may experience excess paranoia about unnecessary things like having a late start to your day, or even imagining that a gal pal is mad at you for some reason. PDS is almost always accompanied by a pounding headache that painfully reminds you about the previous night.
We have all probably experienced it at different times and in different ways, whether you have recognized it or not. My post drinking sadness has grown more intense since graduating from school. Occasionally during senior year I suffered from beer fears after heavily drinking the night before, but since going out and partying till 4 a.m. (the bars here never close), my post drinking depression has become more frequent.
I especially notice PDS symptoms after I’ve been drinking vodka all night. I felt it the most, especially the existential dread part, when I was deep into studying for my professional exams. I found that I couldn’t focus on the material, and reading one page would take 15 minutes because it would produce so much anxiety. My whole day that I dedicated to studying went down the drain. I could have used that time in a much better way, but was determined to adhere to my study plan, even though nothing got done.
After it happened a few times, I really had to cut back and monitor my alcohol intake during the month before my exams since I could not afford to be mentally paralyzed in a trade-off with fun. Very Well Mind and the Alcohol Addiction Centers have published studies stating the effects of excessive alcohol consumption including impacting one’s ability to pay attention and compromise your working memory aka what was happening to me.
My Tips for Dealing with Alcohol-related Anxiety
To be honest, PDS really puts a cramp in my lifestyle, but most importantly it alarmed me that I could feel this sad and low. I don’t know if it’s something that I’m okay with but it’s something that I’ve accepted as the potential new normal and a new possibility after going out. I continue to be aware of the way that I feel after a fun night with friends, but I always make sure that if I’m not feeling myself to remember that this is one day, and tomorrow is a new one.
From my experiences with PDS, here are some tips that can help you get over a post drinking funk.
Hang out with some friends
I cannot stress this enough. This is one of the best ways to dramatically decrease your PDS. You don’t have to be overly social, but an hour or two catching up with a friend can boost your mood while lessening your social anxiety and paranoia. If you keep overanalyzing an interaction you had with a friend, reach out to them to make sure that everything is okay in real life, because it may just be in your head. Remember that you only have to socialize as much as you want to, but laughter really is the best medicine.
If you aren’t feeling ready to talk to people and want a little alone time, I recommend doing something active. This can be anything from going on a walk around your neighborhood, to going on a run, to taking a yoga class. Any sort of physical activity will distract you from your self-deprecating thoughts and will allow you to better yourself mentally and physically. After torturing your body with liquor, a nice sweat sesh will probably do you some good after you inhaled dollar pizza at 3 a.m.
If you can financially swing it, it’s never a bad idea to treat yourself to that barre class you’ve been dying to try to for months now. You’re not only investing in yourself physically, but you’re providing a mental escape for just 60 minutes. For an at-home alternative, utilize YouTube for some online workouts though Obe Fitness or Fitness Blender. Lastly, never overlook a good old-fashioned dance party in your room. It is highly underrated.
If you aren’t one for exercise or still need some ways to combat PDS you could do some beloved self-care activities. One of my personal favorites is getting a face mask, mud or sheet, and just allowing yourself some much needed R&R time. This is a great one to do by yourself or with a roommate or friend. Another time tested self-care tool is treating yourself to a manicure & pedicure. Who knew paying someone $40 to rub your feet and hands could make you feel so good and turn your day around? Plus, there are always trashy magazines you see in line at the grocery store that you always want to read but never do. Your time is now.
Food is one of the best ways to combat PDS, since for most it provides a sense of comfort and happiness. Everyone has their go-to “sad” foods that help lift their spirits when feeling down. Whether its carb loading up on pasta, eating frosting straight out of the can, or having a BEC from the local bagel shop, we all have one. Since we are talking hangovers here, definitely treat yourself to an iced coffee and whatever your hangover comfort food of choice may be. With PDS, never feel ashamed about indulging in some of your favorite treats, those negative thoughts have no use here.
After I am able to muster up the strength to eat something I usually go for a salad with a mountain of croutons on top. Now listen, I know you just rolled your eyes but hear me out. A salad provides you with depleted nutrients, and will likely pose very little threat to hurting your stomach, plus croutons are the bomb. Other personal unhealthy favorites include chicken tenders and fries, potato chips, spoonfuls of Nutella, and most importantly, ice cream.
No matter how low you’re feeling or how shitty the day is, when you eat ice cream are you really ever having that bad of a day? Ice cream just has that much power. Plus, since you already worked out today you can feel less guilty about eating your weight in ice cream.
Lastly, try laying in bed. I’m serious here. As crazy as it sounds, sometimes one of the best ways to get over this funk is to be suctioned to your bed while watching Netflix until you can’t see anymore. As much as we hate to admit it, we all need a day off to just lay around in bed and be lazy. There is no shame in that, and sometimes it’s all you can really manage during the most intense parts of post-drinking anxiety. I find that its always best to do something familiar and comforting while feeling down in the dumps.
If you get bored of watching Friends for the 8th time, you can always substitute it with reading that book you said were gonna start weeks ago. I know we all feel that staying in bed is equivalent to giving up, but I personally don’t think it should be viewed that way. We all have days where being lazy and cozy is the best medicine.
These are just some of the tools I use to attempt to make my day better after suffering post-drinking sadness. I hate to admit it, but sometimes it’s just impossible to get out of this feeling. When I am feeling that way I try to remind myself that this is one day out of many and that tomorrow is a new day to be productive and have a better one. I also call my mom or dad to give me a pep talk and that usually helps too. What are some of your favorite ways to push past the post-drinking sadness?