Last night Thom and I attended a Jack Johnson concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl and this morning I woke up with a fun hangover. First, if you don’t know who Jack Johnson is and you love music, you need to look him up. Second, if you haven’t experienced a fun hangover in a while, maybe it’s time you indulged. After all, it’s SMART to occasionally push our boundaries and get out of our comfort zones. Doing something unexpected, out of the ordinary, and especially fun every now and then is a sure prescription for ongoing happiness and good health.
But what do I mean by a fun hangover? And if it’s so good for us, why does it come at a price? If you are anything like me you haven’t experienced a good old-fashioned hangover in a very long time. Hopefully, by the time we reach our midlife, most of us have learned (sometimes the hard way) that overindulging in alcohol (or?) is seldom worth the price the morning after. I’m not talking about a headache after the occasional splurge of a couple of glasses of wine. I’m talking about that, “oh my God” feeling that some of us might have experienced waking up and vowing to never “do that again!”
In contrast, a fun hangover is waking up feeling disoriented and maybe tired, but still saying, “Wow! That was fun and worth every minute.” The thing is, fun and unusual activities can disrupt our day by keying us up mentally and physically. Then when we do eventually go to bed, often later than planned, we frequently don’t sleep as well or deeply and feel it the next morning. But like I said, the difference between a fun hangover and a traditional hangover is the acknowledgment that it was worth every minute.
Still, I do find it helpful to come up with a few “cures” to help counteract the effects in the most positive ways possible. That’s why this morning I am using some of my own cures and thought they might be helpful reminders for others. They are:
- Sleeping in if possible. Thom and I didn’t get bed till almost midnight last night and that was easily a couple of hours later than usual. Even then I didn’t sleep as well because my brain was keyed up and excited. Fortunately, we both had the option to sleep in a bit later. Giving ourselves permission to do that (if possible) is a good idea.
- Tell yourself you probably got more than enough sleep to have a good day. My research into Prof. Ellen Langer a couple of weeks ago confirmed that if people “think” they got enough sleep, they usually did far better cognitively. Plus, other research suggests that most of us actually sleep more than we think we do even when it isn’t as deeply or as long as we would hope. Remember that our minds often determine the course of our day so we serve ourselves well when our self-talk is positive, encouraging and uplifting.
- Coffee. I’m a coffee drinker and even though I don’t need it to “sober up,” the caffeine jolt did help jumpstart my brain.
- Stay hydrated. Most of us could probably use more water than we typically drink. But unlike an old-fashioned hangover where drinking water was critical to feeling better, it isn’t always as obvious after a fun and active day. By hydrating well we fuel our body in a positive way.
- Write in your journal. While the last thing your groggy mind might want to do is pull out your journal and start writing, I find it incredibly clarifying. Of course I do this, hangover or not, five days a week, it really helps to get my brain processing and focused in an intentional way.
- Give yourself a break regarding exercise. Anyone who attends outdoor music concerts knows that it isn’t just a place to go and sit and listen to music. The venue we attended in Santa Barbara is an outdoor “bowl” up on the hillside. Not only is parking a challenge, especially if you are frugal enough to want to find your own inexpensively, just walking to and from the facility is a climb. Plus, after you find your seat, there is an overlook at the very top that covers the city and offers an amazing panorama—oh, and that’s where the bathrooms are too. After walking up and down, and up and down, many times, I felt that I could relax this morning and not do my normal morning walk. My dog Kloe, who spent an energetic time playing with other dogs at the dog sitter, was also experiencing a fun hangover of her own. She seemed more than happy not to take a long walk this morning as well. Of course, I am also aware that some people will benefit more by getting active. If your fun was more mental and emotional than physical, getting outside and moving your body in a healthy way will be extremely beneficial.
- Eat right. The morning after a fun hangover it is always SMART to refuel in a healthy way. I’m incredibly fortunate that my husband Thom makes me a smoothie every morning to get the day going and it was VERY important to me today. I think it is good to remember that filling our bodies with heavy carbs or sweets “the morning after” is probably not the best way forward.
- Stay grateful. I think the single most important cure for a fun hangover is practicing gratitude for the experience. Sure I might not be feeling as “spry” as I sometimes do in the morning, but all I have to do is think of all the elements that made yesterday special to me. Thinking about the beautiful evening in a spectacular setting, spending quality time with my husband, and hearing and seeing an artist that I’ve always wanted to see in person made the day full and wonderful. Replaying those experiences in my mind, instead of complaining about how tired I might be feeling, is far more helpful and rejuvenating.
I’m well aware that those these aren’t exactly earth shattering cures. Most of you already practice them on a regular basis. But like so many things I share here on SMART Living they are good reminders of the elements that make up a good and healthy life. And instead of warning you to stay comfortable and complacent in order to avoid a hangover in the future, I instead want to encourage you to fill your life with as many fun hangovers as you possibly can.
Okay, your turn. Do you have any cures for a fun hangover to add? Please list the comments below.