When you’re drinking on a weeknight, you never think you’re going to drink to the point of having a horrid hangover the next day. So, you agree to happy hour... with the promise to yourself that you’ll only drink a very responsible two drinks and then leave the bar. After your third, you swear you’ll stay for just one more and get in bed the second you get home. Before you know it, it’s 2am and you’re somehow at the third bar of the night. Worst of all, you now have to be at work in 6 hours. You’re going to be hungover. It’s going to be hell.
Now, all you really have to do is get by without tipping people off to the fact that you poured an insane amount of cheap liquor down your gullet the night before. If you make it to the end of the day, you can go home and pass out face down with your clothes on. And if you follow these instructions, you might avoid certain death in your cubicle because you decided not to drink any water between shots of Jameson and Jaeger the night before. (Seriously man, what were you thinking?)
Get it together before you leave the house
Brush your teeth as soon as you wake up. Believe me, it will change the entire trajectory of your hangover. Then drink a whole glass of water, swallow down a couple ibuprofen, and take a shower. No matter how much you want to wallow, shower; it will give you new life. Get ready like you normally would so that you don’t look like a scrub. (This means no sweatpants, no wrinkled clothes, and under no circumstances nothing you were wearing the night before. Nothing on your body should even remotely smell like something you’ve slept or partied in.) Dress like a normal person going to work, do your makeup as you usually would, wear normal shoes. Don’t wear your glasses instead of your contacts if you usually wear contacts to work. You get the idea. Also, consider sunglasses. Use them to hide behind during your commute, and all the way until the last socially-acceptable moment once you get to the office.
Eat something and hydrate
Grab something to eat on the way into the office. Grease is key. Maybe an egg sandwich or something like it. I like eating a big stack of pancakes with bacon, because when I’m hungover, I usually am ravenous for protein. Spring for a burger if you want, and no, it’s not too early for that.
Liquids are key, too. You want to rehydrate and regain some sort of water/sugar balance. A more accurate way to market Gatorade would be a grimy hungover person struggling through a commute to work. Gatorade will help you restock on electrolytes with a minimum amount of effort. Some people live by Emergen-C. Others prefer Pedialite, which is apparently just as useful to derelict adults as it is to sick children. More than anything, coffee is your friend. Lean on caffeine to get you through this day.
Remember to keep the energy coming; snacks will help you throughout the day. If you’re feeling a rabid bout of hypoglycemia coming on, grab a soda. The sugar is a good pick me up. Things that are high in protein are a great snacking choice too; nuts are always an easy option. If you find that you’re craving food in the middle of the afternoon, it’s probably because your body needs it.
Be on time. You should always be on time, but make an effort not to run much later than usual. That is, no later than something you can blame on traffic or missing the bus/train. Set yourself an alarm the night before —hell, set it while you’re still at the bar— and give yourself plenty of time to get moving as you’ll probably be moving reaaaaal dannnnng slooooooooow. (The effects of alcohol withdrawal and dehydration are real! You can practically feel your brain expanding against your skull!)
Do the things you have planned throughout the day. Don’t skip meetings. Don’t ghost on calls. Follow through with all your responsibilities and commitments. If you need to take an early lunch, do it. If you need to fake a call, do it. If you need to find a quiet place to lay down for a few, do it. Anything you need to make it through, as long as you do it discreetly.
Fly under the radar
If you are really in a bad spot, do everything in your power to avoid extended conversations. Especially conversations with bosses and other important people (ie. the ones that hold your job in their very hands). You know that thing you do when you see someone you don’t want to talk to coming your way? Suddenly, wow, look at your phone! You have an extremely important text message! There’s a very important phone call that you need to be on Right Now! Faking it will help you make it through the day. Feel free to take this an extra step if necessary and feign an incoming phone call from a family member. “Grandma, is that you? Why are you screaming? WHAT’S WRONG?”
Headphones will be your new best friend. Pop on those noise-canceling bad boys, put on something soothing if you feel as though you need to be held, or some deep house if you need to be motivated, and just keep moving. Or, don’t play any music on at all. Your helicoptering coworkers will see that as a sign that you are working on something and you can’t talk. Little do they know, you’re watching soothing YouTube videos of Ospreys flying home to roost.
Oh and if you have to puke, no judgement here. Just do it on a different floor, preferably one where you know the fewest people.
Take breaks when you can
If you can make it past lunch, you’re almost there. The lull of the mid-afternoon is where it can get extremely dicey. You may find yourself falling asleep and hoping for a quiet and painless death. Take a walk and get some air when you hit that part of the day. Get your blood flowing. Go out for a coffee even if you think you don’t want one. If you really need to get escape, I suggest picking up and/or faking a smoking habit so you can go outside at regular increments. (Note: This is a last resort. Don’t develop a smoking habit because you’re regularly hungover and need an out.)
Don’t fall for the “hair of the dog” trick
This probably goes without saying, but drinking away your hangover is a tactic that should only be used for tailgates, brunch, and the weekend. There is nothing like a spicy spicy bloody mary to get you back to feeling normal, but there is a time and a place. And the office is not it. On top of that, if you’re still drunk — and I mean, “Don’t light a match anywhere near that person sweating out alcohol because you’re going to set the office ablaze” drunk— don’t let on that you are. In the most extreme cases, take a personal day. But bear in mind that taking a sick day when alcohol is the thing that has you down for the count is a bad look. Also, it’s weak. Don’t be a baby. You’re not a baby. You’re an adult, and you have grappled with a hangover before. Don’t let the hangover win.
Keep it to yourself
As much as you want to whine to your fellow happy hour comrades, don’t run around excessively kvetching about your terrible hangover. You can commiserate with the people you were out with at the beginning of your day, but leave it there. Don’t go moaning and groaning about how your late-night libations have come back to bite you in the ass to people who responsibly showed up to work perky and sober. Complaining never made anything easier for anyone and you don’t want to give anyone a reason to resent you. Even if you had a real banger of a night out on a Tuesday, you’re still a professional, goddamnit.
Just push through. The pain of a hangover is, as with most of life’s great challenges, temporary. You can do anything for one day, even stave off waves of nausea. The fact that you even made it into the office to begin with is a huge success. Congratulations, you did it.