Hear me out, some hangovers are great—here's why I'm having the Perfect Hangover Day

I've found the secret to stopping overthinking

Breakfast At Tiffany's Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly

It’s Sunday morning, and I am hanging. Maybe you are, too?

I’ve suffered from terrible hangovers for as long as I can remember, which, Mum, if you’re reading this, was 18 (everyone else, let’s put that number closer to 15).

Nausea, vomiting, the dreaded hangxiety, you name it, I get it - and as recently as two days ago. No, I don’t have a problem, honestly! I even wrote a piece about being sober-curious, which I still am, but not today. Today, I am luxuriating in lethargy. Live, Laugh, Lethargy.

Every now and then, though, I am blessed with a Perfect Hangover Day. I’m talking about the kind of hangover when you’re just the right amount of IDGAF, which, as a lifelong anxious overthinker, is a gift in itself.

A friend once described feeling especially cavalier on some hangover days. I suspect Maya Jama did, too, when she got a lion tattoo (she’s a Leo) while hungover on holiday last year. Ditto my colleague Jadie, who got a piercing the morning after the night before.


Spontaneous tattoo trip to Tomb Tattoo today 🤪❤️🇿🇦 Big up Bruce

♬ original sound - Maya Jama

Perfect Hangover Days, which will hitherto be referred to as ‘PHD.’ on account of the exact science it requires to achieve one, are rare. So rare, in fact, that I’m going to scrap my earlier statement and say there is no perfect method to achieve one. We are all at the mercy of the Hangover Gods, and sometimes they deign to look down on us favourably.

There are some commonalities, though, such as being around friends and, less achievable, going on holiday the next day. “The perfect hangover time is when you’re about to go on holiday because it doesn’t matter; you can do whatever you want and start drinking again,” says another colleague of mine, Treasa Burns. Many agreed that age is a determining factor, and my on-the-cusp millennial friends say that PHDs get rarer as you get older.

At one point, I thought that only drinking Espolon tequila was my failsafe, but alas, that has been proven untrue (though I remain dedicated to this spirit). PHDs are not to be confused with what TikTok calls a ‘Rot Day’ (111.8M views). A PHD is less about rotting in bed all day and more about escaping the ever-racing thoughts that come with being human.


♬ November Rain (Acoustic) - My Music 87

As a chronic overthinker, alcohol usually exacerbates my anxiety, but very occasionally—today being one such day—I am given a day pass from my own mind. But there are rules. I cannot be too hungover, which would, of course, be unenjoyable; neither can I be not hungover enough, meaning my overactive brain would be nudging me out the door by 10 am. For a truly Perfect Hangover Day, I have to strike the right balance. I like to think of it as my quiet, one-woman revolt against the onslaught of wellness culture.

As Chartered Psychologist Dr Mark Rackley tells me, “alcohol is a depressant, not a stimulant, like coffee. Its effect on the brain is to sedate it and slow it down.” Dr Becky Spelman, a Psychologist and Founder of Private Therapy Clinic, agrees; “Alcohol’s depressant effects on your central nervous system can slow down brain activity, reducing racing thoughts and anxiety.” She explains that when you’re hungover, your body is dehydrated and tired, which can dampen cognitive processes. Also, the physical discomfort caused by crapulence can divert attention away from overthinking, prompting you to rest, relax and rot, she adds.

But are there other ways to achieve this gleeful ‘no fucks’ attitude? “There are much healthier ways to take the edge off in life!” encourages Dr Becky, who suggests mindfulness (that old chestnut), deep breathing or meditation. “To manage overthinking, you need to slow down your thoughts,” says Dr Mark, who also predictably recommends mindfulness, journaling, and using rational self-talk to challenge your ‘what if’ thinking. “To stop being an anxious over-thinker, always challenge negative thoughts by asking yourself if they are rational or if there is evidence to support them,” recommends Dr Becky.

Anxiety tweet

(Image credit: X via @miasommar)

Take, for example, a recent spiral of mine after a night out that resolutely did not result in a PHD. I was convinced I had angered everyone within my general vicinity, and no one would ever talk to me again, let alone invite me out. If I had practised what the experts said, I might’ve asked myself what proof I had that I was a complete terror and if I had ever behaved in this way in the past or ever fallen out with friends after a night out.

The answer to all the above is no. Maybe I am a terrible person, and my friends have made peace with that, but I can say with complete certainty that I’ve since been invited out, which brought me to this piece and my current PHD.

It’s not a perfect science, and I’m in no way advocating self-medicating anxiety with alcohol. Still, Perfect Hangover Days do exist, and if they don’t happen for you, now you know how to quieten the hangxiety. Cheers to that.

Mischa Anouk Smith
News and Features Editor

Mischa Anouk Smith is the News and Features Editor of Marie Claire UK.

From personal essays to purpose-driven stories, reported studies, and interviews with celebrities like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and designers including Dries Van Noten, Mischa has been featured in publications such as Refinery29, Stylist and Dazed. Her work explores what it means to be a woman today and sits at the intersection of culture and style, though, in the spirit of eclecticism, she has also written about NFTs, mental health and the rise of AI bands.