Does anyone out there suffer from this?
If so, you will know it is debilitating, depressing and can make you feel really bad about yourself as you internally beat yourself up over how you may have behaved, or if you have offended anyone and once your mind focuses on these negatives, it can spiral downwards pretty dark and pretty fast!
OK, how does it work?
The mind, (particularly the subconscious mind) has evolved over millions of years to do many, many things. One of these things it has evolved to do is to keep you safe, to protect you! One of the mechanisms that has come out of this evolutionary process is the mind’s propensity to prioritize negative thoughts.
So, it goes like this:
Whilst you were ‘under the influence’ the usual social inhibitors that we all have in place were relaxed by the alcohol, as that is what alcohol does! Relaxes inhibitions!
Alcohol also effects the way we process data, i.e., information, sequencing of events, complexity of things etc. and part of this process is the way that we lay down memories. They will be hazy, perhaps out of sequence, or perhaps not fully remembered at all!
Guess what? Not having full recall can produce anxiety as the mind has not fully created a full and sequenced record of events and the unknown element of this situation causes your subconscious mind to ‘fill in the gaps’ with a sort of worst-case scenario.
Also, anxiety can be produced if you DO have a reasonable recall and you remember that you may have acted out of character or conversely you may feel anxious because you DID show an aspect of yourself, your character, that you may not have wanted too!
So, if all the above is true, then why doesn’t everybody feel post drinking anxiety?
Well, rather like how people are affected by stress, we are all different and in the case of this issue, some people don’t dwell on things, or simply don’t care. Others are really sensitive and are affected by the situation.
Why does the mind concentrate on negative thoughts?
The reason for this is once again evolutionary. In any given day, our minds swirl with millions of thoughts, and our minds have to make a decision as to which ones are the most important to us and our survival. One way it does this is to make a beeline towards any thoughts that produce an emotional reaction, as the subconscious mind reasons that if there is an emotional response to something, then that something must be important to the person, and if it is important, then it must be connected to a person’s survival!
So, when people ruminate over what happened or may have happened ‘the night before’, the subconscious mind is getting all these ‘importance’ signals which makes it focus on them. If the mind cannot recall details, it reasons’ that the worst must have happened and build’s these notions into any memory or emotional construction that the mind puts together.
The result is alcohol anxiety!
The subconscious is only wanting to keep you safe. So, it is doing what it can to ensure that you don’t put yourself into a situation like this again. And or (depending on the situation) it constructs a series of things you can do or say to limit the ‘damage’ that it thinks that was caused whilst the person was drinking. A sort of ‘get out of jail free card’ for social situations. This behavior of the mind is linked to the way stress works (please see my blog post related to stress for more information)
So, what can be done about this?
Well, the first and most obvious is to stop drinking all together (which is what your subconscious would like as then there would be no danger that this situation will ever happen again!) But you may not want to do that.
If that is not an option, then what could be done is to book some time with a clinical hypnotherapist who will work out what the best approaches could be based on your personality and needs and will work with you whilst you are in hypnosis to combat any kinds of anxiety or stress caused by this situation. If you want to inbox me at email@example.com I would be more than happy to discuss bespoke treatments to help you cope with the issues and possibly to even rid you of these negative feelings for good! And as we live in a world run by technology, I can conduct hypnotherapy sessions either in person or online.
Part of dealing with the feelings ignited by post drinking anxiety, I usually recommend the use of what is known as an anchor.
What is an anchor?
It is a well-known and respected technique that anyone can use, even if you are not actually in a state of hypnosis!
This is what you do:
Take some deep breaths and focus on relaxing for a few moments. Perhaps go to a ‘happy place’ in your mind. Breathe deeply and naturally until you feel pretty relaxed. Take as much time as you want.
Then, remember a time when you felt fully in control, confident, invincible, and totally ready to take on the world! Really focus on that memory, bring that time into focus, make it clear and bold, build the feeling and the memory up until it is so strong and at its peak. Then squeeze your thumb and forefinger together for the count of 5 whilst you put all your focus on that memory. Then let go and think of something else entirely. Give it a minute or so then go through the whole process again.
Do this 5 more times. Not forgetting to have a rest between each session. Then, just check your anchor and allow the rush of confidence and power to flow through your body from your thumb and forefinger.
Once in the waking world and you feel you may need a ‘boost’, in this case if you feel anxious after drinking. Just gently squeeze your thumb and forefinger together and let the positivity flow!
I hope the above helps people, and if anyone wants some more treatment, not forgetting that the anchor is only part of a holistic and bespoke package of hypnotherapeutic techniques to help with this issue. Just contact me.
Trevor Bamford MA