Food & Drink

The Unspoken Rules of Getting Through a Hangover at Work

Mark Yocca

How fun was last night? So fun? We bet it was. But today you are reaping what you began sowing right around Martini number five. Hangovers might be self-inflicted, but that doesn’t make them any less head-throbbingly frustrating and painful. That is even truer when you have to experience a hangover’s unpleasantness at the office. Some hangoverologists claim there are magic fixes to fend off the worst symptoms. But if you’re hungover on a weekday, chances are you just have to punch the clock and grit your teeth. Here’s what you should remember if it happens to you.

Don’t Talk About the Hangover

The first rule of being hungover around your coworkers is that you don’t talk about being hungover around your coworkers. Talking about anything isn’t likely to feel very good, and waxing poetic about your nausea isn’t going to win you invitations to play on the intramural dodgeball team.

Don’t Act Like You’re at Home

Yeah, you probably should have stayed home where nobody could see you curl up into a ball and loop episodes of Perfect Strangers on Hulu. But you didn’t do that. You put your sunglasses on and decided to face the world. And that means you’re going to have to abide by normal office decorum, which doesn’t always mesh well with the outward manifestations of a hangover—like watching ‘90s television in the fetal position during regular business hours.

Forget the Desk Lunch

Take every opportunity you can to not sit in your posture-correcting chair staring at Google Docs. Going out into the world for a real lunch is not unreasonable employee behavior, and you should take the full time you’re allotted to find something fried to eat.

Ignore People for as Long as Possible

Because there’s nothing anyone can do to help, do your best to pretend you aren’t there. Put on some noise-cancelling headphones and try to tune everything else out.

Don’t Delude Yourself Into Thinking You’ll Be Productive

Showing up is more than half the battle if you have a horrible hangover. It is one of the few circumstances when it’s totally acceptable to set low expectations.

No, You Haven’t Had Enough Water

Whatever you think is the right amount of water to drink following a few too many cocktails, it is probably double that. When you have to get up to go to the bathroom every 25 minutes, then maybe you’ve had enough. Until then, keep hitting the water cooler.

Know When to Pull the Plug

You should know when to declare defeat. If the hangover proves so bad that you’re on the verge of actually throwing up, it’s time to just say you’re sick and go home. You won’t be doing anyone any good staying at your desk. Unless you are literally an emergency room doctor, there is almost certainly no emergency so great that you can’t call out sick.