Life hacks for making the most of your holidaying (and to hopefully not losing days to a hangover)
By Freida Dario-Santiago
IT’S A GIVEN. Unless you are a total Scrooge, you most likely will be having a bit more alcohol this month, maybe even three or more months’ worth your normal consumption.
Why else do you think it’s called the Christmas spirit?
Nights out on Boracay are LIT-proof – if only you could remember them half the time! But thanks to social media and CCTV cameras, those #facepalm moments are forever immortalized, adding insult to injury, quite literally for many a party animal [I can almost hear my friends snickering at my saying so!].
Celebrating the festive season on Boracay could either be a very wholesome affair, but for many island residents, it could also get as toxic as Manila (minus the “kill me now” traffic jams) with the slew of Christmas parties, visiting friends and family that come home from all over the world to converge on the island for the holidays, and the full-on days-to-nights get-togethers leading up to New Year’s Eve, not to mention the “first and last night” syndrome that needs no explaining.
So without beating around the bush, let’s get down to some tried and tested life hacks that could make or break your holiday season (and could spell the difference between having a jolly time or ending up like road kill… before you even reach the road).
Besides, if there was such a thing as a hangover cure, its inventor would surely be richer than Mark Zuckerberg. The next best bet is to try to be smart before you get drunk and stupid.
Ten Commandments for Surviving the HoliDAZE: Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat!
Alcohol is not a meal. We’ve all “been there, done that” in “forgetting” to have dinner.
Eat a balanced meal before stepping out. Whether it is a dinner party or not, you will most likely have a few sips before getting your turn at the table and by then, it might be too late. Arm yourself before heading to war by having a slow-burning and balanced meal (some protein, a few carbs, some fat) to regulate your body’s alcohol absorption. Red meat is a pretty decent choice because, according to Jason Burke, M.D., creator of Hangover Heaven, it has a high concentration of protein and B vitamins, which help process alcohol byproducts in your body.
Another rule of thumb is to nibble as you drink. Go for high protein food like cheese and nuts.
About that burger & fries before hitting the sack, doctors say that drunk binge eating solves absolutely nothing (except for your guilt for drinking too much, then again, you’ll hate yourself the next day for pigging out).
New research suggests that eating after heavy drinking offers no guarantee that you’ll be hungover-free the following morning. Instead, embrace your inner Minion and have a “BA-NA-NA!” Potassium depletion is one of the biggest culprits that cause nasty day-after headaches, fatigue, nausea and thirst.
If you’re reading this, you are most likely past your 20s, and gone are the good old days when you could party the night away, pass out, get a decent night’s sleep, and wake up as fresh as a daisy. As we age, our post-alcohol sleep quality goes downhill.
That’s why you’ve got to plan for the worst by setting yourself up for a good night’s sleep, and hope for the best, that you wake-up refreshed (instead of looking fresh from the grave). How? Simply make your bed welcoming for when you get home, and prepare your sleeping environment before heading out. (Think: clean sheets on a made-up bed, blackout curtains, blinds, a sleep mask, ear plugs)
Elizabeth Kovacs, Ph.D., Director of the Alcohol Research program at Loyola University Chicago, says that getting good sleep each night leading up to that party will reduce the impact one night of drinking will have.
Everyone has his or her own relationship with, and tolerance for alcohol. But during the excessive BER season punctuated by Christmas parties, you might do well if you have exactly two drinks. If you are a person who has found that zero drinks, or one drink, is the right number for you, then that is the number to stick with. For everyone else, try two.
In any case, knowing is half the battle, so count those drinks because each drink counts.
Repeat after me: “Water please”
If you’re wondering what the best hangover cure is, unfortunately we don’t have one. Best advice is to hydrate yourself with water throughout the night and before bed. In fact, as you set-up your bedroom for the aftermath, be sure to place a glass at your bedside (away from your phone).
As you live it up like it was the last night on earth, dehydration creeps in like a creepy stalker, and if you don’t keep it at bay, that sucker will mess your world and bring on the headache from hell.
The rule of thumb: alternate between one drink and one glass (not a sip, a glass) of water. Aside from rehydrating, it’s a good way to cheat yourself by filling you up with water rather than the equivalent alcohol.
Sweat it out
Whether you do this on the dance floor or commit to a fitness goal for the following day, sweat is not only detoxifying, it forces you to rehydrate and replenish your body with much-needed vitamins, minerals and electrolytes. (Think: pedometer / step-counting, running, yoga, swimming)
Cutting yourself off early is the smartest thing you can do for yourself (and for your friends – if you’re a bad drunk).
The rule of thumb: A ballpark estimate to cut off from alcohol (so most of the alcohol in your system has been metabolized before you even get home and try to sleep) is at least four hours before you go to sleep. That might seem like a long time to go without a drink at a party, but take into account how much time it takes you to get home, unwind, and then hit the sack, allowing your body ample time to processes what you’ve already enjoyed.
If you still want to have a good time and avoid being a party pooper, cutting off could be knowing when it’s time to start nursing your drink (after two maybe?), and slowly tapering off from there the rest of the evening. But if you’re an “all or nothing” party troll, set a time, and knock yourself out until 30 minutes or so to your cut off time, before you turn back into a pumpkin.
Because by the time 4 a.m. rolls around and you’re stumbling through McDonald’s ordering a vodka on the rocks with fries, it’s all over.
Clichés are passé
If you believe in drinking clichés such as “liquor before beer, you’re in the clear” and “brown before clear,” (or the other way around) will save the day, perhaps because it works for you, you’re one lucky fool (could be genetics, or your age). But what it really just comes down to is your body’s consistency & tolerance and knowing what works for you, then sticking to it like your life depends on it.
The rule of thumb: Nothing good ever comes from mixing alcohol. Stick to your poison of choice (if it agrees with you and you’re not yet on a first name basis with Jack, Johnny, Jameson and Jose).
Exit stage right
So you’re drunk, slammed, hammered, sh*t-faced. The least you could do is to try to save your dignity.
As Nobel Prize novelist and self-confessed alcoholic Earnest Hemingway said, “Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”
The worst things you can do at this point are:
Great ideas, empty promises. The muddled mind is indeed, full of good intentions, amazing ideas, and a whole lot of bullshit. Everything you said you’d do tomorrow, not happening.
Texting. You only text three people when you’re wasted: Your ex, a sexy or sketchy stranger, your worst wingman. Save yourself from wanting to “Ctrl + Alt + Delete” your life.
Crying. Depending on how drunk you are, this can happen without provocation. Someone could just look at you funny and then game over. “WHY DO YOU HATE ME? NO, I’M SERIOUS, I KNOW YOU HATE ME AND, LIKE, IT’S FINE. I JUST WANT TO KNOW.”
Fighting. Ask yourself how many times you’ve been broken-up with and you’ve got no clue why.
Calling Mom. Especially after that fight. Yes she knows you’re drunk, and she’s not happy you called.
That “one last” shot or drink (you know the one).
Find the door, and go home.
If you’re sober enough to still comprehend what’s going on, these before-bed tips will give you the best chance of safely sleeping through the night.
Pop these and only these:
Ibuprofen: Take a small dose to prevent the onslaught of a hangover headache. Stay away from Tylenol or acetaminophen-based medicines as they can damage your liver when mixed with alcohol. Stay away from sleeping medication.
Pick one to replenish lost nutrients: Vitamin B supplement or multivitamins. Thiamine, folic acid and magnesium sulfate can help as well.
Instead of raiding the fridge, go for high-fiber foods like vegetables, fruits and crackers. High fiber foods will slow the digestive process some, meaning it will also slow the absorption and processing of alcohol. Again, another great source of vitamin B is a BANANA!
Have one last small glass of water before bed, then fill a glass to keep on your nightstand in case you get thirsty later. Don’t drink too much water or you’ll just wake up through the night to go to the bathroom, time you could be sleeping.
Go to sleep.
(READ: Leave all two-legged housemates in peace.)
Finally, put your phone on silent or on airplane mode so notifications don’t wake you. If you can, turn off your alarm and plan to sleep in.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Cheers and good vibes!
How to Get a Decent Night's Sleep After a Night of Drinking by Patrick Allan: www.lifehacker.com
10 Mistakes You Make When You’re Drunk by Ryan O'Connell: www.thoughtcatalog.com
Point of no return
Now if you get carried away with all the fun, just get yourself safely back to your hotel or resort. If you don’t think you can manage, ask for assistance from the staff or security at the bar or club you find yourself in, or find a safe well-lit spot where you can gather yourself (preferably rehydrating with water), and wait for a security guard or roving beach police that can escort you to the road and help you into a tricycle. If you think you might forget your hotel, take a card with you before leaving your accommodations or write the name and location on a piece of paper or save it on your phone.