Anxiety is essentially the body’s response to stress. But it is a primitive system and hasn’t quite caught up with the modern world. You might be sitting there, sweating bullets, enough adrenaline coursing through your body to kill a saber-toothed tiger, but all you’re doing is answering emails. It’s no wonder it can make you feel seriously off. Anxiety can cause nausea, headaches, trembling, palpitations, tearfulness, negative thoughts, panic attacks – the list of physical and mental symptoms is immense and different for every person. It’s really scary. It can hit you out of nowhere, or it can linger just under the surface and stay with you for weeks or months at a time. The worst part is that when the peak anxiety has faded – that’s not necessarily the end of the story. If you have had a terrible day with high anxiety, you will probably find that the next day you feel sluggish, sickly, run down, tired – almost as though you had downed a full bottle of Malbec the night before. We call it an anxiety hangover – and if it sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Denise says anxiety hangovers are painfully familiar to her. MORE: HEALTH Your toothbrush is probably covered in poo particles Your anxiety levels could be stressing out your cat Woman writes breakup letter to her foot before having it amputated ‘I’d say it’s maybe similar to the exhaustion those who have epileptic fits experience afterwards,’ she tells Metro.co.uk. ‘Panic attacks drain you, being constantly anxious is draining too. I last had a panic attack on New Year’s Day. I spiralled after. It had been a long time since I had had one, and I wanted to get through the year without one. ‘I didn’t even last a day! ‘An anxiety hangover feels like a big ball of regret, shame, disappointment, sadness and tiredness. ‘I often lose my appetite and my mood will be low. But I bounce back so much quicker than I used to, following having CBT and educating myself. I like to think of it as training my brain.’ (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk) Allie has similar experiences. She says her anxiety feels never-ending because of the lingering physical and mental symptoms. It can leave her practically bed-bound. ‘My anxiety attacks rarely come in one go; after the initial attack the symptoms can hang around for days, and can be compared to a hangover – or even a comedown,’ Allie tells us. ‘If I’m not working, I’ll lay in bed for ages in the morning, sometimes stretching into lunch. That is, if I get up at all. ‘And my mind feels like sludge – it’s harder to concentrate and the anxiety hangs over my head like an unwanted cloud, but not one I can cure with copious amounts of water. I wish.’ That’s the real kicker. With alcohol-induced hangovers you at least know that they are finite. Drink enough water, eat enough cold pizza and you will start to feel more human. Not so with an anxiety hangover. They can hang around for days, the cure and the cause both unclear. The fact that you didn’t even get a fun, drunken night out of it makes it all doubly unfair. Psychologist Hope Bastine says this unpleasant phenomenon is a simple matter of human biology. And it’s necessary. ‘The basic rule of thumb for any science is with every high, there is a low. And, the higher the high, the lower the low,’ Hope tells Metro.co.uk. ‘In the case of an anxiety attack, the sympathetic nervous system has become hyper-active. This means you are having a stress response to an event you perceive as threatening. ‘In science, we call this hyper-arousal. But when a stress response has been triggered, there is a feedback loop, that actives the parasympathetic nervous system which is the rest-and-digest state. This allows us the time and space to recover and heal from a bout of exhaustion. ‘So, the anxiety hangover we all experience is recovery period; it protects us from straining our immune system and subsequent illness.’ Laura is a type one diabetic, that can exacerbate her anxiety symptoms and make her anxiety recovery even more drawn-out. ‘I feel like I have a lot of physical symptoms the morning after I have had a particularly bad day of anxiety,’ explains Laura. ‘I’ll feel tired, run down, achy and often wake up with a headache – exactly like I do with a hangover from drinking. ‘Really anxious days can make my blood sugars go all over the place because of the extra hormones anxiety causes the body to release. Normal bodies produce insulin to deal with that but mine doesn’t, so it can be really tricky. ‘The only other time I really struggle with that control is when I have been drinking. ‘I usually just want to sleep it off and spend the whole day really struggling to concentrate on anything. It’s very draining, like my body has just used up every bit of energy by being anxious. ‘It’s also really hard to improve my mood as I get stuck in a cycle of feeling out of sorts and not wanting to do anything, so then everything gets on top of me and I get even more anxious. ‘I think the anxiety hangover makes my particularly anxious periods last much longer than they should because I just go round and round in this circle.’ The cyclical nature of an anxiety hangover can make it really hard to deal with. Having some coping mechanisms up your sleeve can be a big help. MORE: HEALTH Night owls are being held back by traditional working hours, says study Taking the contraceptive pill can affect the ability to read emotion, study says We all know about workplace stress, but let’s not forget self-employed stress Hope has some practical tips that you can employ when you are in the grips of bad anxiety to lessen the impact on the subsequent days. ‘Keeping in mind the “higher the high, the lower the low” concept, when you become aware you are having an attack, implement relaxation techniques to reduce the “high”,’ Beth suggests. ‘One very popular technique is to inhale for four seconds, hold for seven, and exhale for eight seconds. When repeated at least ten times, this will activate the parasympathetic nervous system and induce a relaxed state before you get too overwhelmed. ‘Remember, If you are having an anxiety hangover, your mind and body is telling you to look after yourself. Practice the art of self-care and you will bounce back sooner then if you tried to push through. ‘Ask yourself: what makes me feel looked after? Is it having a night in sipping a sleep tea with a good book?’ Although an anxiety hangover is unpleasant, it is your body’s way of recovering from the trauma of being acutely anxious. As much as we might want to, we can’t shake of anxiety with nothing more than a positive attitude and one yoga session. We need time, rest and self care to get over it. When an anxiety hangover hits, treat it like a normal hangover and listen to your body. If you need to hibernate in your bed with Netflix and a Dominoes, do it. Just remember to talk to someone about it – most of your friends will know exactly what you’re going through.