“There is no possible way it can be tomorrow already. I swear I was just… Where are my pants? Oh, crap. The quarterly review! Nope. No, no, no, no, no. They’re going to kill me. My heeeeeeeeeeeeead…”
Nobody plans for a hangover, but most people accept it as the likely outcome of a night of revelry and Jell-O shots. And the world doesn’t stop just because you’ve developed a Nosferatu-style distaste for sunlight.
If you’ve braved a heavy night before a day of work, you might be seeking an express route to feeling better and at least looking like you’re functioning in the office. We’ve thrown together some super effective advice to help you while you’re hanging at work.
But before we start, think about whether this is a regular scenario for you.
If it is, it might be a good idea to slow down. Drinking is fun until it isn’t. No one’s policing you, so be aware of your own body. Once you start feeling a little too far gone, put a cork in the drinking for the rest of the evening.
However, we all know the party sometimes takes you along for the ride. Here’s how to leave the ride without feeling too crappy for too long.
If you’re having a few drinks, the odds are that a hangover may be in your future. (I’m not the only one who gets hungover from one glass of wine, right?)
While you may not be able to completely avoid the uncomfortable symptoms (a magic pill doesn’t exist — yet), you can stop them from messing with your day.
For starters, hydration is king. Make H2O your number-one drinking buddy.
That’s not just about ordering your drinks on the rocks, even though watering down cocktails with ice cubes can help a little. Pairing each alcoholic drink with a tall glass of water is really the way to go.
The extra glasses of H2O will help you feel fuller (meaning the next cocktail may seem less appealing) and may also decrease your risk of dehydration. Dehydration can ruin your mood, mess with your memory, and make it harder to focus.
Bonus tip: Drink a glass or two of water before going to bed and another one or two when you wake up. Headache and dry mouth, you shall not pass.
A hearty meal before hitting the town will also bolster your stomach.
While it may not be feasible to get your hands on a heaping plate of mineral-rich asparagus (which may help prevent hangovers), whole grains will prep your stomach for a night of debauchery, and you can even get them from cereals.
Even better: Make a home-cooked meal or healthy snack instead of opting for bar food. That way, you can ensure your body is full of the right nutrients and reduce the chances of grabbing late-night pizza. (But any food is better than no food! And pizza is still pizza.)
Plus, research suggests a full belly can slow down your body’s absorption of alcohol.
Two drinks are better than five, and turning in early is smarter than staying up until sunrise, but getting lit and partying through the night can still be safe.
To wake up as the best version of yourself, go for clear alcohols like white wine or vodka, which don’t contain the congeners (a common cause for that raging headache) found in darker alcohols like whiskey and red wine.
It’s also helpful to #TreatYoSelf. Pricier brands may contain fewer congeners. Sure, happy hour specials on well drinks may seem like a good idea at the time. But you might have a happier 8 hours the next day if you can avoid the cheap stuff.
Alcohol isn’t always bad for you. Read more here.
The easiest way to mask a hangover is by looking like you’re awake and happy to be where you are.
Here’s what your morning process should look like:
- Wake up earlier than normal.
- Take a cold shower.
- Use redness-relief eye drops.
- Brush your teeth like a champ.
All this will rid your body of any post-party liquor smells, handle that boozy dragon breath, and provide a much-needed energy boost.
It may sound counterintuitive to wake up early when you feel like you haven’t even slept, but pushing through a hangover can be more effective than sleeping through it.
- You start the day in a great mood.
- You feel so enraged by your choice of alarm that you immediately shut off the alarm and spring out of bed.
It works either way.
For some extra TLC, rejuvenate by putting cucumber slices or presoaked chamomile teabags on your eyelids. It’ll de-puff your peepers and help you relax no matter how tuckered out you feel.
Bonus tip: Keep eye drops on hand and use them again in the afternoon, if necessary.
The contact lens crew might also want to rock eyeglasses for the day to prevent further irritation. Glasses also function as an effective disguise for a superhero secret identity.
(Seriously — how do they not know he’s Superman? He’s not even trying. “Ooh, I’m a journalist now.” Give up, Kal-El.)
The final step is dressing the part. It’ll put an extra pep in your step, make you feel more confident, and prevent your boss from having any inkling of last night’s activities. (See, Superman? That’s how you do it.)
At the very least, tell yourself you’ve got this — mentality is half the battle. But also be aware of when you don’t quite have it nailed. If you’re frequently talking yourself through hangovers, not drinking in the first place might be a healthier option.
The common symptoms of a hangover are:
- decreased motor skills
- sensitivity to light (and basically every stimulus)
It probably hurt just to read that list, and these uncomfortable next-day effects of drinking can be challenging to shake.
Alcohol interferes with hormone production.
You can judge how hydrated you are based on the color of your pee (clear pee-pee is happy pee-pee). Once you’re hydrated, it’s time for an energy boost.
Coffee is a great go-to for a hangover and, as a writer, I’d say it makes up roughly 95 percent of my blood content. The smell alone can snap you out of almost any stupor. If you’re too queasy for coffee, caffeinated tea is a great alternative that has low acidity.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. In this case, that often means reaching for a greasy egg sandwich or an oversized (and overstuffed) bagel for breakfast.
While these foods taste great in the moment — oooooh boy, do they taste great — heavy foods can weigh you down and increase stomach woes.
Other items on the “not today” list:
- more booze (sorry)
- fried foods (double sorry)
- anything that puts extra acids in your body
Though you may crave carbs, what your body really needs is fruit, amino-rich eggs, vitamin-packed oatmeal, and good ol’ H2O. Other good options: miso or chicken soup (why, I didn’t see you there, healthy sodium!), tomatoes, spinach, or toast with honey.
These foods will help you refuel, rehydrate, and store enough energy for the whole day. No afternoon booze nap for you — PowerPoint presentations wait for no one!
When you’re hungover and in a bad mood, it’s easy to forget things like common courtesy and natural behavior. These are key allies in covering up a hangover at work.
For example, don’t hide. Sure, if you need to work from home for a few hours, do it, but then face your co-workers and be professional. Your inner voice may be screaming, “If I open my mouth to speak, I’m afraid I’ll burp or vomit!” But you can get through.
Smile! Fake it till you make it! No one really cares that you went out and had a few too many drinks last night. Your employer just wants you to be present and alert while you’re on their time. So give them that, and you’ll appear polite and professional.
Hangover days are also a time to pay extra attention to your scent. Your breath and pores may retain a hint of booze no matter how much you scrub, brush, and gargle.
If you dislike your job enough that the advice in this section is impossible, we’ve got a few tips for finding a new job.
Congratulations — you just made it through your hangover (and this article) swiftly and strategically. *Golf claps*
However, no matter how much of a vocational hangover sleuth you are, drinking can have adverse effects, even if you avoid a telling-off from HR.
Binge drinking is bad for your health. Plus, it can interfere with your sleep, which has links to depression.
Drink in moderation, choose your tipples wisely, and take care of yourself. And when you’re in times of need, you always have these techniques.