Hit the brakes on holiday hangovers

Living Well

It's that time of year – holiday parties and fun with friends and family offer many chances to overdo it. Maybe you don't usually drink too much alcohol, but the spirit of the season sometimes leads us to take part in "just one more toast."

While you'll enjoy it in the moment, the next morning, those extra sips might result in bleary eyes and a pounding head. So the age-old question is, how do you avoid a hangover? And the reason it's an "age-old question" is because there's no single right answer.

Everyone's least favorite advice is also the simplest way to avoid hangovers: Just don't drink any alcohol.

No, it's not the most popular option, but there are plenty of mocktails and non-alcoholic drink options that still feel festive. However, if you choose to drink alcohol, here are some good suggestions to keep the party going.

  • Pace yourself. Start the night with a plan to only have one or two (maybe three) drinks over the course of the entire evening. And stick to that plan no matter what tempting concoctions are placed in front of you. (Or whatever peer pressure you might face from the office party planning committee.)

    We know the best-laid plans can go south quickly. Even if you go into the night planning on partying a little hardier than usual, there are steps you can take to help cut off that hangover before it starts.
  • Hydrate. One thing that most experts agree upon is that dehydration is a leading cause of hangovers. There's no way to prevent the process, but you can certainly counteract the dehydrating effects of alcohol by drinking plenty of water. Drink extra water before you go out for the night, and keep doing it throughout the evening.

    One rule of thumb that's worked for us is to have a glass of water for every alcoholic drink you take in. The key is to stay aware of how many alcoholic beverages you enjoy compared to how much water you drink to help fight off a throbbing head tomorrow.
  • Go to bed at a reasonable time. If you're enjoying the holiday spirit, you might stay up later than usual. Oh, who are we kidding? You're definitely going to be out later than usual. So try and get a relatively normal amount of sleep and give your body a chance to reboot.
  • Don't drink your dinner. Drinking alcohol can fill you up quickly. But this doesn't mean you shouldn't eat. And even though you might not feel like a big breakfast, don't skip out on eating a good meal the next morning to help fuel the day, and help kick-start your body's metabolism.

What if you didn't read this reminder in time, and stayed out too late anyway? Well, there's no time machine to help you make different decisions, so let's deal with the unpleasant reality of a hangover.

First off, fight the urge to drink a lot of coffee. Because the caffeine could actually make your hangover symptoms worse. Caffeine narrows blood vessels, which increases blood pressure. If your head is already pounding, this could make the pounding worse.

Additionally, coffee can have diuretic effects, which could make your body more dehydrated. This further narrows your blood vessels, increasing your blood pressure and the aches.

Instead, give your body what it needs, even if you can't imagine tipping another glass. Drink water to rehydrate your body throughout the day. A lot of people swear that sports drinks or electrolyte beverages work quicker, but there are too many differing opinions on whether or not they actually help. It's best to stick to pure H2O for fool-proof results.

You also need rest to recover. It's probably not the best idea to call out sick the day after an office party. But if an extra half hour of sleep might make you a more productive worker, see if you can negotiate a late arrival.

Finally, if you have the day off, try and relax. Part of the recovery might be a nice sleep mask to keep out that pesky sun.

Look, holiday parties are a wonderful thing. So, go enjoy yourself -- just do it responsibly. Eat, drink, laugh and be merry … with moderation and the next day in mind.

From all of us at FSAstore.com, best wishes for a happy holiday season!

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