If you're Googling how to cure a hangover, chances are, you had your work Christmas party or a festive get-together with friends last night and are now feeling slightly worse for wear.
Naturally, the simplest hangover cure is simply not drinking as much - that said, with the best will in the world, mindful drinking can go out of the window at this time of year. Christmas is known as "silly season" for a reason, and with 101 events and mulled wine on repeat, it'd be a small miracle not to overdo it at least once.
Fear not, though - you don't need to default to Christmas survival mode just yet. To save your sanity (and ours), we've enlisted the help of some of the best doctors, nutritionists, and psychologists in the business and asked them to share their top tips for how to cure a hangover. Not just that, but they've shared tips for safeguarding your mental health this December, too.
Buckle up - your festive season will never look the same again. Don't miss our guides to sober celebrities who have given up alcohol for good, how one writer found trending Myrkl hangover cure pills, and how one sober curious staffer got on halving her alcohol intake, while you're here.
How to cure a hangover: 10 top tips for boosting mind and body
1. Drink plenty of water
Yes, we know this is an obvious one, but you'd be amazed at how a. easy it is to forget to do and b. helpful upping your agua intake can be.
You all know that hangovers are one of the worst side effects of the festive season. But did you know? Many of the unwanted effects, such as - headaches, sickness, and dizziness - are a result of dehydration, or so shares nutritionist Lauren Windas.
Top tip: Drink water in between each alcoholic drink, a glass before you go to sleep, and have - yep, you guessed it - a glass next to your bedside if you've been drinking. "Basically, keep drinking plenty of fluids and limit your caffeine intake", recommends doctor Luke Powles, clinical director for Bupa Health Clinics.
2. Don’t drink on an empty stomach
Another obvious one but drinking alcohol on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster. If you've got a night of festivities booked in, do make sure you eat a nutrient-dense meal, too. "This will help to slow down how quickly your body absorbs alcohol," explains doctor Powles.
Aim for a balanced meal or snack with carbohydrates, healthy fat and protein an hour or so before you start drinking to make sure your body can absorb the alcohol.
3. Avoid drinks high in congeners
Ever heard of them? Us neither. Congeners are by-products of alcohol and occur when it's distilled or fermented. "They tend to be in alcohols such as whiskey, tequila, and cognac," shares Windas - so steer clear of drinking lots of these. Colourless spirits such as vodka and gin, on the other hand, have lower levels of congeners.
Why is it best to avoid? "Some studies show a correlation between drinks higher in congeners causing more intense hangovers," she explains.
4. Up the electrolytes
As a Senior Health Editor, I have to try a lot of wellness products for a living. One game-changer for me? Drinking electrolytes post a night of drinking.
Electrolytes work by replenishing your body's minerals, such as sodium, magnesium, potassium, and more, making them a seriously effective (and cheap) hangover remedy.
You can buy these in handy soluble tablets from health stores like Boots and Holland & Barrett. If you're already hungover and haven't got any to hand, coconut water is also naturally high in electrolytes and available at most stores.
5. Practice mindful eating (and drinking)
While, sure, Christmas is a time for joy and celebration, for many, it's also filled with food anxiety and guilt, explains Windas.
"The way many people approach eating and drinking during the festive season and then restrict in January is reminiscent of the classic binge-and-restrict cycle," she points out. Her advice? Practicing both mindfully. "This - as the name suggests - involves making an active effort to be present while eating or drinking. Try putting your knife and fork down between bites, tune into physical sensations, and pay attention to the thoughts you have about food."
Why? Simply, because it can help you to understand your eating behaviours better, empowering you to tune into hunger and fullness signals. Neat.
6. Prioritise your sleep
We all know sleep is one of the most powerful anti-aging tools and boosts everything from metabolism to brain function, so it's no wonder it's on the expert's list of "things-to-do-lots-of" this Christmas.
Psychologist Charlotte Armitage recommends ensuring you're in a good sleep pattern for the entirety of December, but if this simply isn't possible - we're looking at you, work Christmas party, and your school friends reunion - then Windas recommends planning some extra shut-eye in bed ahead of full-on social occasions.
Power naps FTW. Sleep is also one of the most powerful tools for curing hangovers - interestingly, one study published in Nature and Sleep Science concluded that those who slept less after an evening drinking were more likely to have worse hangovers.
7. Turn your phone off more
Something we should all do more of regularly, but that has the potential to safeguard your mental health this Christmas season (especially if you're hungover).
"At this time of year, social media becomes prime for comparison and showing off, and so taking a holiday from Instagram for even a week can help you refresh. Remind yourself that the world is bigger than your phone and everything that goes on it," says Michelle Elman, author of The Joy of Being Selfish.
Try this: She does a digital detox every year at this time of year - why not give it a go yourself? "It's a great way to give your mind a break. The amount of reading I get done in those two weeks is unparalleled," she shares.
8. Get some fresh air - but don't push yourself too hard
There's an urban myth that you can exercise off a hangover - while fresh air certainly helps, one of the worst things you can do the next day is exercise excessively, shares Powles. "While a bit of fresh air can help, nothing more than a gentle stroll is enough to feel the benefits. Your body needs to recover – so rest and rehydrate."
9. Set boundaries
This one's important. Rather than spending your festive period with loads of people who aren't that important to you, try and surround yourself with those you a. feel comfortable and safe with and b. have healthy, interpersonal interaction with.
"This is extremely important for any period of potentially poor mental health," shares the psychologist.
10. Know it's ok to bow out
Another important one that we're not too good at but should do more of? Saying no. Ever found yourself at a social event that you really - and we mean really - don't want to be at? We all have. Next time, rain check before you go.
"Before saying yes to an invite, insert a filter that asks yourself "do I actually want to go?"," recommends Elman. "So often we have a kneejerk reaction of checking our diaries and saying yes without actually considering if we want to attend. It's also OK to decline an event to spend an evening alone. Making sure your diary includes rest time is good time management," explains Elman.
Fatmata Kamara, Mental Health Nurse Advisor at Bupa UK agrees, and also adds that if you’re not feeling up to attending festive plans – it's okay to say no to this, too. "Pushing yourself to do more than you are able to take on can lead to burnout and fatigue over the Christmas period, making it harder for you to enjoy the festivities," she shares.
If you do end up going to an event that you didn't want to be at, it can be a sure-fire recipe for drinking too much and ending up worse for wear. Word from the wise.
Shop MC UK's go-to hangover aids now:
These so-called "hangover banishing" food supplements contain probiotics and L Cysteine. It's vegan-friendly, too. Read how one staffer got on trying Myrkl, here.
Electrolytes are one of the simplest ways to up your hydration levels - and no, they're not just for runners and athletes. Simply mix this powder blend from wellness brand ARTAH into water and you're good to go.
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Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Senior Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, nine-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She's won a BSME for her sustainability work, regularly hosts panels and presents for events like the Sustainability Awards, and saw nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.
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