Dealing with an Anxiety Hangover


It’s 9:00 am on a Monday morning and I already know I’m not going to get much done today. I’m mentally paralyzed by a headache, foggy-ness in my brain, and feelings of shame. Yesterday afternoon had been swallowed up by an episode of anxiety, and this morning I am living with regrets.

Forget responding to email.  Forget getting my schedule organized or prioritizing my daily goals.  I am marred up in the negative emotions of an anxiety hangover.

Why did I let my thoughts get so out of control?

Why on Earth did I send those text messages?  Are my friends going to think I’m nuts?

 Why can’t I just let things be?  I get so worked up over nothing and then I look like an idiot!

How do I get anything accomplished with such thoughts?

So, what do I do to heal myself?  I’m not an expert on the matter, but after years of experience, I have some tried and true methods to get myself back on track.

1.    Be kind to yourself.  Move slowly and quietly.  Enjoy some peaceful moments in quiet reflection.  Use mindful meditation or prayer to clear your thoughts.  Forgive yourself.  Interrupt negative self-talk with positive affirmations such as “You do your best”  “You are a competent person”  “Anxiety is something you experience, not something that you are.”  Find your own kind words and repeat them until you believe them.

2.    Avoid swallowing your feelings in a mouthful of comfort food.  Overloading on carbs or caffeine are not going to make you feel better.  In fact, they may make you feel worse, physically and emotionally.  Hydrate with lemon water for a boost in mental clarity, or drink ginger tea to calm a cranky tummy (also a symptom of the anxiety hangover).

3.    Accomplish a goal, no matter how small.  Put as much energy as you can muster into crossing something, anything off your to-do list. Feeling productive goes a long way toward making you feel like yourself again.

4.    Stretch.  Anxiety wreaks havoc on your muscles and stores tension in your cells.  You don’t have to be a limber, yoga monkey. Just stand up and stretch it out. Roll your shoulders and relax your neck.  Relax your jaw. I tend to grit my teeth when I’m stressed.  Rub your temples and relax your face. Tell your body to just let it go! (But don’t get that Disney song stuck in your head, or you’ll hurl yourself into another state of angst).

5.    Talk to someone.  For me, the best way to take the shame and sting out of an anxiety hangover is to confide in a trusted friend.  Acknowledging the struggle somehow seems to empower my ability to move past it. 



If anxiety is a recurring issue for you, or if it impedes your ability to live your best life, please consider reaching out to a mental health professional.

Family Service of Roanoke Valley Intake Office: (540)563-5316 x 3014

If you are in an emergency or crisis, please call 911 or one of these hotlines:

Carilion CONNECT: (540)981-8181

Lewis Gale RESPOND: (540)776-1100

Blue Ridge Behavioral Health Walk-In Clinic: (540)266-9200