It’s 2022, and we still haven’t discovered the cure for hangovers. It’s just as well … why should we deserve immediate relief from our poor choices? The consequences are a pretty straightforward reminder of the delicate nature of our health and the abuse we voluntarily put our bodies through. That being said, a gal’s gotta live a little … and hangovers happen.
In our quest to move past the feelings of discomfort that a hangover brings—for example, by indulging in coffee or super heavy, greasy food (which is a myth, by the way)—we were curious to know if launching into a full-blown health and wellness day is the key. Can working out help solve the hangover blues? We asked holistic nutritionist and founder of Soul Wellness Method, Shauna Faulisi, to weigh in.
When it comes to working out with a hangover, Faulisi tells us that it depends:
“How bad is the hangover?! It really comes down to listening to your body. No matter what, you’ll want to drink at least a liter of water upon waking (you should really aim to do this every day anyway), especially if you’re a caffeine person. Hydrate before you caffeinate.”
Even though reaching for a strong triple espresso beverage of choice can make you surge into a state of alertness temporarily, we don’t want to add more stress to our adrenals or compound the dehydrating effects on our already parched body. Water first—that means before sweating, too.
Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, so having a bit of it if your head is pounding can be really helpful. Careful not to overdo it, though, and keep your water intake up so you don’t do the opposite of the goal and dehydrate.
“As for working out, moving your body and letting it sweat can be really beneficial in rinsing out the night before. I recommend low-impact workouts post-night out, because bouncing around hungover is not so fun. And we’re not at our strongest when we’re tired, so your HIIT workout won’t be your best. I’m all about leaning into where you’re at in that moment. Hangovers aren’t all the time, so there’s no sweat (pun intended) in taking the day off.”
Honestly, excellent news. While a half-assed workout may be better than no workout, pushing your body when it’s in a state of total depletion is not the way back to equilibrium. Let the body rest and restore before bringing your body back into a stress state, because we want to avoid triggering harmful inflammation. Alcohol is an inflammatory substance, so being gentle the morning (and day) after is important.
“Some people love to go for a run or sit in a sauna and really do well with that. It ultimately comes down to being truthful with yourself and checking in with what your body is really needing,” Faulisi explains.
She also points out that the post-drinking blues are a real thing. Oftentimes we suffer a bit of an emotional hangover as well—we feel embarrassed and worried about what we said the night before when we weren’t being our natural selves, and of course, alcohol is a downer that depletes our serotonin. We may feel a little masochistic the day after, wanting to work out hard to sweat ourselves into a headache in the sauna to punish and purge. Avoid that route and listen to your body, as Faulisi tells us.
On that note, she also hones in on the fact that “one workout has the power to decrease depression and anxiety, [which we know] can come in guns-a-blazing the morning after.” If a little movement is calling your name, do it. But try not to utilize it as a form of self-flagellation.
“I’m all about it, unless it’s one of those [hangovers] where you want to lie in bed and eat pizza—and as a nutritionist, I approve of that too! Personally, I love some water, sunlight, fresh air, and a good flow-y yoga class, or Pilates with just enough release of sweat. Keep the rest of the day low-key and chill.”
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