During busy social periods like Christmas and New Year, it's easy to find yourself overdoing it when it comes to alcohol. With happy hours, holiday parties, and social gatherings, that one cocktail can quickly become three or four. Even if you're good at moderating your intake, the older you get, the harder those hangovers can be to manage. Over the past couple of years, I've found that even a couple of glasses of wine can leave me waking up the following morning with a raging anxiety hangover.
Headaches I can take, but the sinking feeling that I've done something terrible (even though I remember every minute of the night before) is not something I enjoy. Experts agree there is a strong link between alcohol and anxiety, and that's definitely something I've experienced since hitting my 30s. So I decided to look into ways of reducing those anxious feelings (without having to give up alcohol entirely), and one thing that came up again and again as a possible cause was dehydration.
Could it really be as simple as drinking more water? I had my doubts, as I've always been pretty good at drinking water or juice throughout the day anyway, but I decided to try properly tracking my water intake for a while anyway. A few apps I already had (like my Fitbit app and the WW app) allowed me to log my drinks, but I decided to download My Water Balance, which goes one step further. It allows you to log specific drinks, including alcoholic ones, and when you do so, the app will automatically adjust your plain water intake to compensate for the diuretic or dehydrating properties of other drinks (coffee, tea, and soft drinks are all included, too).
Let's just say this was a huge eye-opener. No wonder I was waking up with a dry mouth and feelings of dread. If you thought having a couple of glasses of water at the end of the night was enough to offset three glasses of wine, you're way off. For three months, I made an effort to only go to bed when I'd hit my lofty target of 2.5 litres of water per day. On days when I drank alcohol, the recommended intake would quickly go up, and I must confess I felt like a camel at times, storing away gallons of water. I also needed to get up and go to the loo in the night, often twice. But it was worth it, because those anxiety hangovers all but disappeared. I was genuinely amazed by how much of a difference it made.
Though we're all different (and my anxiety is very mild), I definitely recommend installing this app and upping your water intake if you know that alcoholic drinks can have adverse effects on your body or mood. Obviously the best way to avoid these symptoms is to avoid drinking entirely, but not all of us are ready to go completely cold turkey, particularly at such a busy time of year. Practice moderation, have a glass of water by your side at all times, and perhaps you'll wake up on New Year's Day with a clear head for once?