How to Cure Your Hangover After the Office Holiday Party: 13 Steps to Help You Maintain (Some) Dignity
The most wonderful time of the year is finally here — office holiday party season! The season of joy and magic, where all your hard work and company loyalty is rewarded with one night of access to an open bar and a seemingly-endless supply of mini-burgers. It's a shame that all of your bosses are here, so you can really only have one drink. Did you say one? You meant three. Or maybe four. Yup, five drinks, and then you are heading straight home.
Since almost no one imbibes as little as they plan to at the office holiday party, your mid-week office party is usually followed by a mid-week post-office holiday party hangover. This hangover can only be battled one of two ways: calling out sick, or sucking it up and coming in. The sensible thing to do is call out, of course. In fact, some researchers estimate that 64 percent of American workers have called out sick due to a post-holiday party hangover at one time or another.
But what if you can't? What if, due to an act of bad luck or incredible scheduling sadism, you have an important meeting the day after your holiday party? Or a conference call that you've had planned for months? Or a boss who is just not going to look too fondly on you calling out with the cocktail flu? Then you, my friend, are going to work with a hangover.
Now, no one likes going to work (or being alive) with a hangover. But there are a few measures you can take to try to hold on to what little dignity you have left after teaching all the interns how to do the Macarena last night. Read on, and discover the 13 steps that can make the difference between getting through the day, or forever being known as the woman who barfed in the middle of a sales meeting.
Before The Party:
1. Prepare for the Coming Storm
Listen, you know this is going down. Acting naive right now will get you nothing but the extra misery of begging a non-hungover co-worker to run out and buy you aspirin and a taquito tomorrow. So assemble an anti-hangover kit before that first shot of Sauza touches your lips.
The day of your holiday party, make sure that you've purchased:
- Aspirin (this will help with headaches and other aches)
- Alka-Seltzer (this will help with nausea)
- Pedialyte pops (this will help you rehydrate—it's better than Gatorade because it contains more sodium, which allows your body to rehydrate more quickly)
- Pepto-Bismol (this will help if your stomach is going absolutely insane and you feel like you will probably die right there in your office's communal bathroom)
- Dry shampoo (this will help when you feel like you do not have the strength to wash your hair tomorrow morning)
- A can of ginger ale made with real ginger, or some ginger tea (this will help with nausea)
Make sure that you do not buy Excedrin or Tylenol — their active ingredient, acetaminophen, can cause liver damage when combined with alcohol, and frankly, you're already dealing with enough problems here.
I'd suggest either buying two sets of these hangover essentials — one for home and one for the office — or getting them in travel size versions and keeping them in your bag. If you only get one set and leave them at work, you will absolutely find that you need them when you are at home, and vice versa. And no, that's not science: those are just the facts, because when you're hungover, the world is an ugly, hateful place that seeks only to destroy you.
2. Eat a Solid Dinner
Tonight is the worst possible time to try to cut corners and just eat appetizers instead of buying dinner. Eat a full dinner, and make sure that it includes fat and fiber, which will take longer to digest, and keep your stomach full for longer. This will help you absorb less alcohol, which in turn will make you less hungover tomorrow.
During the Party:
3. Drink Water
Your best option to avoid a hangover is to pace your drinking and make sure to not go overboard. Ha ha ha, just kidding. That ship sailed a long time ago, friend. But you can still drink a lot of water. Throw back a glass of water for every glass of booze you drink — it will keep you from getting dehydrated, and also might keep you from drinking too much alcohol overall.
4. Drink Light-Colored Alcohol
Dark liquors contain congeners, a chemical compound that is full of methanol. Methanol is the chemical that often gives hangovers their lethal edge. That time you drank Wild Turkey and then spent the next day curled into a ball, moving only to barf? Thank congeners for that. And stay away from them tonight.
5. Drink More Water and Take Two Aspirin When You Get Home
When you get home, drink even more water, and also throw back two aspirins — they'll help reduce inflammation, and block the body's production of prostaglandins, both of which may prevent you from having severe hangover symptoms tomorrow. If you think you'll be too out of it to remember to do this when you get home, set out a bottle of water and two aspirin on your nightstand before you leave for the party, and hope that Future You is at least together enough to notice them.
The Next Day:
6. Accept That You're Going to Wake Up Early
I'm sorry, but this is happening. But if it makes you feel any better, it's not just you — most people wake up way earlier than planned after a night of heavy drinking (often while still wearing your pants, shoes, or those McNuggets you picked up on the way home). This unfortunate side effect is due to something called "the rebound effect." Basically, the processes your body uses to metabolize alcohol can result in a night of very light sleep, especially in the second half of your sleep cycle.
Try to do anything you can to fight this — use an eye shade and a white noise machine, if you can — but also know that you're probably going to be getting by on minimal sleep today.
7. Take Another Aspirin (And Maybe a B Vitamin)
Hey, now that you're up, why not take another aspirin and have some water? You're going to have to fight your headache all day, so get used to it. And maybe throw a B vitamin while you're at it. Science isn't 100 percent sold on the effectiveness of taking a B complex vitamin after a night of drinking, but plenty of hard partiers swear by it, and it can't hurt.
8. Eat an Ham and Egg Sandwich
Some people will try to sell you a line about how you'll feel better if you eat a salad instead of eggs when you're hungover. Those people are the devil. They're also wrong! The eggs and meat on your breakfast sandwich are full of protein and vitamin B, which can help make you feel like a human being again, instead of a wayward World War Z extra. Plus, the carbs in the bread may help raise your blood sugar. Just make sure the sandwich isn't too greasy, and have a banana or a kiwi alongside it.
9. Hit the Water, Pedialyte, and Alka-Seltzer As Needed
Glad you bought those dumb popsicles now, huh? The Pedialyte pops should help you rehydrate, and their sweet taste may help satisfy any sugar cravings you have. Make sure you're also still drinking a ton of water, too. Coffee is a diuretic, just like booze, and considering that you probably needed several cups of joe this morning just to get out of bed, you should be matching your coffee consumption with water. If you feel nauseous, now is also a great time to pop your first Alka-Seltzer of the day.
10. Try to Take a Shower
I mean, you can skip it if you're dizzy, or feel so weak that you can barely stand. But if you're dizzy and weak, you should just stay home, presentations be damned. However, if you're avoiding the shower just because it sounds like a lot of work right now, drag your hungover ass in there. You don't have to wash your hair — you can just use the dry shampoo you got yesterday — but please, try to hose the booze-sweat off your body.
And if you really, really can't even muster that much effort (or if you woke up someplace, uh, unexpected this morning, and can't shower before work), try to at least swab down your body with some face wipes.
11. Wear a Nice Outfit
Showing up to work in sweatpants and a stained "Fairfield County Arbor Day 5K Fun Run 2007" shirt is a dead giveaway that you are battling a truly foul hangover. Keep up appearances and wear a nice outfit, even if the idea of wearing clothing with buttons and zippers sounds about as complicated as taking the LSAT right now. Dressing professionally will help hide your hangover, at least from a distance.
12. Accept That You May Feel Emotionally Weird All Day
Hangovers don't just make you feel like your physical body is crumbling into dust — they can also make your brain feel like it is going haywire. A 2012 study of young Dutch drinkers found that 8 percent of participants reported feeling anxious after a night of drinking. Some scientists believe that acetaldehyde — one of the chemicals your body creates while it processes alcohol — can cause anxiety. And these symptoms can be especially hard on those of us who already have a rough time with anxiety and depression.
So, try to take it as easy on yourself as you can today. Don't freak out and obsessively read over dumb texts or messages you sent last night. Try not to beat yourself up over typos, or small mistakes you made during a presentation. Know that this feeling is just a chemical reaction, not something deep inside of you, and that it will pass. Look at some kitten GIFs. Read The Onion. We're going to get through this!
13. Go Home the Second You Can
Don't be a hero. Cancel all your after-work plans, and don't listen to anyone who tries to rope you into some "hair of the dog that bit you" happy hour nonsense. Just go the hell home. The sooner you get to bed, the sooner this whole thing will just be a faint, unpleasant memory that you eventually draw on to write a blog post.