(broad)ject self #24: Self-Care When...You Have a Hangover

For the second time in three weeks, my (broad)ject self intro begins with “It was perhaps not my brightest idea to have a few more drinks than I usually have…” We’re house sitting and had our dearest friends over for dinner, I’m about to start this somewhat restrictive diet, it’s the long weekend, the wine was superb…But once again, I woke up bright and early on a Sunday morning with a to-do list a mile long and my only desire was to crawl back under the covers and wake up next week.

Remember hangovers in university? When you could drink and dance until 2am, stop at Pizza Corner for something to eat, Shoppers Drug Mart for a bottle of water, and be at the dining hall for poached eggs at 7am? (Just me?) But seriously, it’s beyond a cliché to talk about how the hangovers get worse as we get older, and yet we never learn.

Having better (or better yet, non-existent) hangovers means first drinking better booze. A couple of years ago I came to the decision that I wasn’t drinking stuff I didn’t like anymore because it was polite or convenient (or necessary). No more warm chardonnay from a box at wine & cheese parties for me. If the white wine wasn’t a Sauvignon Blanc, a Riesling, or bubbly, I’m not drinking it. And if a glass reveals it’s not my thing then just move on to club soda. I have a short list of wine, beer, and spirits that I enjoy, and if one of those options isn’t available, then I’ll happily drink water. It doesn’t necessarily mean spending more money, although it can, but instead being really intentional about what you’re putting in your body.

I think it’s also important to have a plan on where you want your evening (or day, who am I kidding?) to take you. One glass because you have to drive/workout/get up early? Two glasses because you really have to be in bed by 11? Or see where the night takes you because your mom has the kids and no-one will be sticking their fingers in your eyeballs at six am? Whatever it is, make your plan, tell someone else, and then stick to it. I’ve found on those nights when I can only have one, I’m actually better off having none because it’s easier not to drink at all and you don’t get tempted.

Whatever you decide, make sure not to make any rookie mistakes. Go one for one with water or club soda. Have something to eat before you start. Keep eating as the time goes on. Always say no to shots and never go to a second location that’s farther from home than where you already are.

Everybody has their own protocol when they get home, but here’s mine: wash my face, take out my contacts, take two Advil with a big glass of water, and set the alarm from 7.5 hours from now. When my alarm goes off, I try to wash my face again (because where does that mascara come from?), drink some more water, take some more Advil, and have breakfast. If things are going well, I’ll do some Yoga for Hangovers. Rinse, repeat. More water, more food, more stretching. If I follow that protocol, I can usually manage to avoid the deathly mid-afternoon nap, which starts out feeling so good and ends up feeling so bad when you can’t get to sleep on Sunday night.

It’s increasingly coming down to how I want to feel. At ease. Intentional. Useful. Rested. My time off is precious, doubly so when I only see David on weekends. I used to think that drinking made me fun and hilarious. Turns out, I’m already pretty fun and hilarious (not to mention loud), and all too much drinking usually does is prompt me to tell everyone how much I love them over and over again. Nobody misses that, believe me. For me, the obvious decision has been to stop drinking altogether, even though that means shouting “#notpregnant” every five minutes when I’m out with friends. Seriously, women in their 30s do sometimes not drink for other reasons…

And a quick side note, bringing together self-care and women in business: I learned pretty quickly that drinking at work functions wasn’t worth the free bar tab and saw more than my fair share of office party shenanigans. If you can help a co-worker or friend, particularly if she’s young and female, get home safely from such an event before things take a turn for her, you may not get the medal you feel like you deserve, but you’ll be doing her a solid.

Any hangover tips I missed? Sauvignon Blanc I absolutely must try? You know where to find me.

Self-caringly yours,

Sian