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Office Life

How to handle a hangover at work

Your closest friend called you in a panic after a touchy texting conversation with a could-be boyfriend. Or your brother finally landed that dream gig he’s been grinding toward for years. Maybe your co-workers wanted to celebrate the success of a difficult project has reached an end. Whatever the cause for happy hour half-off cocktails that lead to $1 beers at midnight, there’s no way to avoid a hangover sometimes.

While it’s important to prioritize professionalism and your responsibilities over drinking, everyone will experience the far-too-early wake-up call for work after a night of boozing. If you find yourself in this predicament and you want to put your best foot forward (ahem, without face-planting), how do you disguise your symptoms?

In preparation for the headaches that are bound to happen, let these pros teach you a trick or two.

Start your day with hydration — and don’t stop

Your four (or six or eight) years in college and graduate school might have already taught you the fine art of chugging water as soon as you wake up after binge drinking, and with age only comes the need for more fluids.

As health advocate, author and nurse, Dr. Lynn Anderson Ph.D., N.D., C-IYT, ACE explains, at the first signs of your painful haze, your best defense is to double-up on water and juice, ASAP.

And as hard as it is, you should also force yourself to move and seek the healing powers of vitamin D.

“Hydration helps to squelch a headache and the tired lethargic feeling you get from a hangover. Eat plenty of healthy foods and get some sunshine and fresh air on your lunch break,” she suggests.

Give your manager a head’s up (maybe)

So, it it appropriate to discuss your hangover with your boss? Much with every borderline-inappropriate conversation, experts say the answer lies in how comfortable you feel, the culture of the office and how long you’ve been employed. If you’ve been working under the same management for a long time, consistently delivering, and earning gold stars during review season, Dr. Anderson advises adopting the age-old best policy of honesty.

“Everyone has an occasional excessive indulgence. Most bosses will give you some slack for an occasional indulgence. Just remember in life moderation is the key to balance and balance is the key to success. Be grateful and show appreciation. Your boss will be impressed with your maturity,” she says.

On the other hand, though? If you’ve only been employed for a short while or you office tends to fall on the stiff end of corporate policies, industrial-organizational psychology practitioner and career expert, Amy Cooper Hakim, Ph.D. advises hiding your self-inflicted illness.

Because you haven’t had time to make a solid impression or the act itself could be frowned upon, you risk your reputation by admitting how many shots you downed a mere few hours ago.

“As a grownup, it is your job to come to work and to perform your job in a professional and responsible manner. Just like we shouldn’t let personal relationship issues impact our job functioning, we should also not let having one-too-many drinks the night before impact our work performance,” she says.

Turn to busy tasks instead of strategy

Depending on your industry and current workload, Dr. Anderson suggests organizing your tasks for the day around your hangover symptoms, instead of trying to power through to-do list items that you frankly don’t have the mentality capacity to execute fully.

“This might be a good day to take care of basic housekeeping. Organize your desk and your work flow so that the next day at work you can work at top capacity. This will demonstrate to your boss that you are grateful and responsible,” she explains.

Know your limits

So how hungover is too hungover? While you can probably fake your way through a few presentations and responding to emails, if there’s an important client meeting you don’t want to bomb or you can’t even hold water down, Hakim says to take the sick day. Because it’s better to save yourself — and your team — the embarrassment, you’re actually taking the higher professional road.

Hakim also notes if your job requires any sort of technical skill that could put others in danger, you shouldn’t ever show up only able to deliver 50%.

Take the BRAT approach

Throughout the day, you’ll need pick-me-ups that conceal and manage your hangover. While water is already a must, Hakim also suggests an office-friendly plan that won’t raise too many red flags from co-workers. The BRAT diet consists of ‘banana, rice, applesauce and toast’ — all of which will settle your stomach without irritating it.

It’s also smart to double fist coffee and Ibuprofen, which Hakim says reduces your headache and any body aches caused by the over consumption of gin, vodka, tequila, wine, beer — or whatever it is you downed last night.

Remember it’s okay — every once in a while

If the only feeling more painful than your piercing headache is the guilt in your stomach, Dr. Anderson encourages professionals to let it go. Though consistent days where you’re off your game might be reason to let you go or pass you over for a raise, being human is part of being a professional.

Bottom line? Bottoms up happens sometimes, just don’t let it bottom out your career.

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Lindsay Tigar is a seasoned lifestyle and travel writer. When she's not busy writing, she's collecting another passport stamp, taking a boxing class or trying new foods. A full collection of her work can be found at lindsaytigar.com.