Whenever I’m trying to recover from a raging party or a six-pack of gin and tonics, my body craves Taco Bell. Burritos, quesadillas, refritos—it hardly matters as long as the beef is mostly made of soy byproducts and warmer than goulash. Despite the instant-gratification-endorphin-rush of fast food, by mid-chalupa I typically recognize that I’m really just compounding poor dietary choices instead of effectively curing my hangover. Alexandra Spunt, writing at Good’s excellent wellness blog No More Dirty Looks, compiled a list of 10 ways to bounce back from a bender that are actually healthy. Obviously Taco Bell isn’t on Spunt’s list, but drinking kombucha tea, lying down for a massage, and popping some omega-3 vitamins certainly are. Here a few of her other pointers:
Have sex or just a good cuddle. We’ve said it lots of times: Physical contact releases oxytocin and other happy-making hormones. And feeling cuddly and warm about the world beats out feeling glum and self-punishing. The trick is you have to do it with someone you like because, most of the time, sex with someone you don’t like is probably not going to help anything—and definitely not your hangover.
Do some exercise—but just a little bit! The camps are divided on this, but here’s our take: If exercise makes you feel better then you should do it. Again though, hydration is key here, and it is important that you not overdo it. Exercise increases circulation, helps elimination, and releases a cocktail of mood-boosting hormones. The few times I’ve forced myself to do it with a hangover, it’s totally helped. From a psychological point of view, if you’re a bit of a type A, it will also let you feel more OK about taking the rest of the day to chill (which we encourage).
Have a banana/blueberry/kale/lemon smoothie. Antioxidants. Potassium. Natural sugars. Vitamins. Digestive enzymes. These are things that actually really help heal a hangover. Get thee to a green smoothie. It has to be made fresh though, not one of those plastic bottles of green stuff next to juice in the grocery store.
Maybe after you’re composed again—no longer nauseous, no longer headachey, no longer ashamed—you might even consider shooting for another hangover. “There are some great reasons to have a hangover,” Spunt argues:
You needed a break anyways. You haven’t taken a sick day in months. You can’t remember the last time you watched daytime television. There’s nothing you have to do that can’t wait until tomorrow. You still haven’t watched Country Strong. Sundays are for rest anyways. Nothing important ever happens on a Tuesday. In other words: Let yourself off the hook. Besides, the only person mad at your hangover is you.
Image by andronicusmax, licensed under Creative Commons.