How to survive a hangover at work
With the festive party season in full swing, there’s a good chance you might find yourself waking up for work feeling a little bit worse for wear. Being hungover at work can feel like the end of the world, but let’s face it, you’re the only person to blame here, so it’s time to man up and deal with the consequences.
The day before:
As the old saying goes ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ (if your hangover is a result of an impromptu after-work pint turned into ten, we’re afraid we can’t help you here), so if you know you’re going out that night, make a to-do list for the next day before you leave work - you’ll thank yourself in the morning when your brain is feeling like mush.
Make sure you’ve got something ready to wear the next day; ironing a shirt at 7am with a pounding head is certainly not where you want to be.
Getting home from your night:
If you can stomach it, try drinking a glass of milk before you go to sleep. Research has shown that milk can help your body to retain fluid for longer, as it is absorbed into the bloodstream at a much slower rate than water. It also contains a protein called casein, which can counteract alcohol and help with sleep.
Place a glass of water at the side of your bed for when you wake up in the morning. Although research has suggested that dehydration isn’t the main cause of hangovers (it’s more likely down to a toxic chemical called acetaldehyde, which builds up as a byproduct as our bodies process alcohol) keeping those fluid levels up could at least give you some mercy from the classic hangover headache.
When you wake up:
Your alarm goes off. Your mouth feels like the Sahara. You’re suddenly filled with a wave of regret. Those 1am Jagerbombs don’t seem like such a fun idea any more… Drink your glass of water and just take a moment to assess the situation. Am I still drunk? Do I feel sick? How bad is it really? Remember that you’re a responsible(ish) adult, and you’ve dealt with a hangover before. You can do this.
If you do feel sick, it might be best to get it out of the way now to save an embarrassing trip to the office toilets later on. Take a shower (a minty shower gel can help to perk you up), brush your teeth, and use some eye drops if you have some. Hungover skin has a tendency of being dehydrated, so don’t skimp on the moisturiser.
It’s a good idea to try and eat something before you leave the house. If you’re strapped for time or feel really sick, a simple slice of toast should do the trick.
When your body produces acetaldehyde, it protects itself with a counteractive chemical called glutathione - but this tends to run out pretty quickly. Eggs are packed with cysteine which is found in glutathione, making them great for fighting those hangover toxins.
We’d recommend taking a walk if you can. Even if it’s just part of the way. Walking will help to get your endorphins going and kick-start your body - It might also help to sober you up if you’re still feeling a bit tippled. Pick up a big bottle of water, a sports drink, and a banana on the way - you’ll need these later.
When you get to work:
Sit down. Take a deep breath. Give yourself a virtual high 5. You made it. The first thing you should do is assess your workload for the day - if you made your to-do-list the day before then this part should be easy. Today is about making the best of a bad situation… so it’s probably a good time to tackle the tasks that you find most enjoyable and will pass the time quickly.
Swap your morning coffee for the sports drink you bought earlier. Coffee is great for an instant pick me up, but what goes up must come down, so you risk feeling more tired in the long run. Sports drinks contain carbohydrates that release energy slowly over a longer period of time, plus the electrolytes will aid your hydration levels - it’s a win win.
A mid-morning banana is a great hangover pick me up. Dehydration causes a lack of potassium in the body, leading to tiredness and nausea. Although a banana isn’t an instant cure, it’s high potassium content can prevent your symptoms from lasting any longer than they need to. Hydration is key today, so keep sipping on that bottle of water - you should aim to drink this slowly and evenly throughout the day.
Although that double bacon cheeseburger might be on the brain, try and avoid the junk food temptation as the chances are it will just make you feel sluggish.
A trusty supermarket meal deal should do the job here:
Main - A sandwich will settle those carb cravings, plus wholemeal bread is a great source of detoxifying B vitamins.
Snack - Although fruit/veg is the most sensible option, we get that a bag of carrot sticks might not sound particularly appetising right now... Go for crisps over chocolate to avoid a sugar crash.
Drink - Research suggests that Sprite can speed up the breakdown of acetaldehyde, helping you to feel better faster. If fizzy drinks aren’t your thing then go for coconut water; it’s packed with hangover-friendly anti-oxidants.
Once you make it past lunchtime, you’re on the home stretch. We’re all familiar with the 3pm slump, but throw a hangover into the mix and this is where things can get really ropey. If you feel yourself slipping then take a little break and get some fresh air. Coffee could be your friend at this point... you should hopefully be finished by the time the caffeine crash hits. Remember to keep hydrated - that big bottle of water should almost be gone by now.
As the afternoon lulls on it’s tempting to start clock-watching. You’ll probably be feeling pretty drained by this point, so pass those last few hours by putting in your headphones and getting stuck into something that requires as little brain power as possible; anything that involves copying and pasting is a winner.
We could end by advising you to use this day as future motivation to avoid another mid-week night out. But to be honest, if you’ve managed to get through the day, you probably deserve a drink.