How to Cure an Emotional Hangover

I am a morning person.  So, most days, I wake up feeling excited and energized about what’s ahead.  (This is also thanks in part to the fact I’m an easy sleeper; something I don’t take for granted.)

However, twice in the last few weeks I’ve woken up with what I call an emotional hangover. From the moment my eyes opened, I felt sluggish and exhausted, with an aching head.  

Alcohol played no part in it.  The night before I had wrestled with a problem or had an emotional encounter with a loved one.  The subject matter was heavy, intense and complex. No resolution was identified and the weight of it stayed in my head, body and heart through to the next day.  

I felt stuck, awful and raw.  I knew I didn’t want this to be where I made my home for the day.  

Through some personal trial and error, I crafted my cure for an emotional hangover.  

  1. Name it to tame it.  I knew I couldn’t totally resolve the underlying issue immediately, but I had to acknowledge the reality of how I was feeling so it didn’t control me.
  2. Get moving.  Exercise has a way of clearing the mind.  It took a lot of effort to get started, but once I did, the fog noticeably lifted.
  3. Set my course.  More important than a typical day, I had to be clear on how I wanted to show up.  I didn’t want to give power to negative feelings, so I set a specific intention about how I wanted to interact with myself and others.  
  4. Create space.  Recognizing tasks would take longer and more effort today, I had to prioritize the tasks that needed to get done and that required a lot of mental exertion.  Deferring what I could helped to create pockets of quiet time to maintain what energy I had.  
  5. Check my logic.  Days like these, my emotions can overtake my reasoning.  To ensure that I didn’t create any further complications, I pushed making important decisions to tomorrow and when I couldn’t, I gained support from a trusted friend to be sure I was thinking clearly.  

I’m grateful that I don’t wake up most days in a glass-half-empty-mood.  At the same time, I know it is not reasonable to think that everyday will start as joyfully as I’d like. At least now, I have a clear recipe to turn that negative energy into something that is generative and positive.  
Here’s hoping our emotional hangovers are few and far between!