10 Things to Do When You're Hungover at Work

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It happens to the best of us. You tell yourself that you’re going for a friend, that you won’t be staying long and that one more drink couldn’t possibly hurt… right? Then you wake up the next day, crumpled on the bathroom floor with a parched throat and a throbbing headache. You realise it’s only a Wednesday and that you have to go to work. Today is not going to be a good day.

Now, before you curse yourself and pray for the end of the world, remember that the only thing standing between you and your bed is getting through the next eight hours. And by following these tips, you may just be able to beat your hangover – without anyone even noticing you had one.

Here’s what to do when you’re hungover at work.



1. Clean Up Your Act

The first thing you should do when you wake up with a hangover is to take a shower. Doesn’t matter if you don’t feel like it or if it will make you late for work, just do it. Get rid of all the evidence from last night by lathering odious amounts of bath gels; shampoo your hair twice if you have to. Remember: it’s always better to smell like a walking bath soap than a drunken homeless man.

Another very important step is to brush your teeth. Don’t scrimp on the mouthwash, and gargle until there is absolutely no whiff of alcohol on your breath. Put on some nice clothes and make sure you look presentable. Dress and act the same way you would do as if it were any other work day.

Also, sunglasses are your best friend. They conceal those dark circles and bloodshot eyes in an instant – but be sure to take them off once you get to the office so as not to draw any unwanted attention.


2. Stay Hydrated

When suffering from a hangover, it’s very important to keep yourself hydrated. But instead of reaching for your usual cup of coffee, consider swapping it with something more substantial, like Gatorade, for example. Sports drinks help the body replenish lost electrolytes, which usually happens when you go on a drinking spree.

If glugging Gatorade isn’t your thing, have a soda instead. According to Chinese researchers, one particular carbonated drink might even be the ultimate hangover cure. In a study analysing 57 different drinks, Sprite helped speed up the job of an enzyme that turns acetaldehyde (which causes your hangover) into acetate (a molecular ion responsible for most of the benefits of alcohol).

If you think drinking soda in the morning is bad for your health (first of all – it’s a little too late for that, don’t you think?), try coconut water. It has a lot of nutritional benefits and is said to be even better at replenishing electrolytes than sports drinks.

Don’t think you can handle any more drinking? Chewing on a banana works wonders, as well.


3. Stock Up on Some Snacks

Speaking of bananas, it’s also a good idea to stock up on snacks when you’re nursing a hangover. You probably won’t be craving for anything heavy for the next few hours, but you will need something to munch on to get you through the day.

You can never go wrong with peanuts or almonds which are chockful of healthy oils. It’s sure to keep hunger at bay and give you the energy you need to last until lunchtime.


4. Load Up with the Right Fuel

There’s a reason why people believe eating greasy food is a great hangover treatment. It’s because the fat in our meals coats the stomach lining, which slows down the absorption of alcohol and delays intoxication.

Not to burst your bubble, though, but this only works if you eat greasy food before an alcohol binge fest and not after. In fact, having a fatty meal can worsen your hangover because it lags digestion, making you feel even more sluggish. So, try having a nutritious breakfast, instead – your body will thank you for it!


5. Take a Chill Pill

For instant relief against headaches and nausea, pop the recommended dose of ibuprofen, but take the non-drowsy option. The last thing you want is for your boss to find you snoozing on the job (you might as well have come in drunk). Also, try to take your medicine after you’ve had a decent meal, just to make sure that it works properly.



6. Bring Extra Clothes

Bring extra clean clothes to be exact. Your body goes through unpredictable changes when you have a hangover; you can be freezing cold one minute and then blazing hot the next.

To make sure you don’t get caught stuffing tissues down your pants or using them to wipe sweat off your body, bring an extra set of clothes. That way, you won’t have to worry about smelling like a rotten fruit.


7. Keep it to Yourself

While it’s tempting to tell your closest officemate about last night’s alcohol-induced debauchery, do yourself a favour and just don’t. Not only does this damage your reputation but it also puts your colleague in a very awkward situation.

As much as possible, keep conversations short but cordial. When co-workers and managers ask if you’re feeling unwell, tell them you have a migraine or that you had a rough time sleeping. Never be too specific with your answers, and if you feel bad about lying, be comforted by the fact that you’re technically telling them the truth.


8. Take a Break

When you’re hungover at work, moving away from your desk to get lunch seems a lot like trying to climb Mount Everest. It’s an unimaginable task, and attempting to do so will undoubtedly lead to a horrible death or, in this case, unemployment (which is kind of the same).

However, being away from your stuffy cubicle could be just the break your body needs. Breathing in fresh air and getting a bit of sunlight can speed up your recovery better than any aspirin ever could.


9. Talk to a Friend

When you do go out for lunch, ask a trusted friend (ideally someone not from the office) to accompany you. Yes, you will be subjected to a barrage of ‘I told you so’s, but a friend can also assuage any exaggerated fears that might be going through your mind.

When you’re hungover, you tend to overthink about what other people are saying about you. Talking to someone you trust will calm your worries since you can count on them not to sugar-coat the truth.


10. Stay at Home

There are times, of course, when – despite your best efforts – you really can’t go to work. And it’s not because you didn’t try; it’s because you’re so insanely hungover that standing up like a normal human being feels supernaturally impossible.

When this happens, you are entitled to take the day off, but don’t make matters worse by inventing an illness. Your boss might get suspicious of your sudden sick leave, but it’s unlikely that they will question you about it. Take the rest of the day to recharge and be sure to bring your A-game the next day.



We’ve all made poor decisions that have, in one way or another, jeopardised our employment. And while there’s no quick and easy way to recover from these mistakes, what’s important is that we learn from them so that we always work towards creating better versions of ourselves today and in the future.

Have you ever gone to work with a hangover? Share your survival stories with us by commenting below!