Christmas is often a time for family and friends, for charity and for gift giving. It’s going to be more difficult this year, but there’s still a lot of celebrating to be done, with retail reports showing more spending than ever on festive food and drink in 2020. This means that Christmas is also a time when your personal health and wellness can take a hit: people are less focussed on the routines that keep them healthy and happy and keener to engage in fun but unhealthy behaviour.

Today we’re taking a look at one of the consequences: the Christmas hangover. Hangovers are common at Christmas, especially as there are people who rarely drink during the year, but during the Christmas celebration. Take note that this can make December a difficult month for anyone who abstains, for any reason, and it’s worth taking a moment to think about how you talk about drinks and drinking to make sure you’re being considerate of them.

Avoiding the Hangover

One of the best ways to survive a hangover is not to get one in the first place. Keep track of how much you drink, and try to avoid your host refilling your glass before it’s empty – this makes it hard to keep count. Set yourself sensible limits, and drink water, or at least a soft drink, between alcoholic drinks. Most of the discomfort of a hangover comes from dehydration, and keeping hydrated the night before will help you feel better the morning after.

Dealing with a Hangover

If your preparations don’t succeed then you might find yourself dealing with a Christmas hangover. The most important thing you can do is deal with that hydration issue. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it encourages your body to shed it’s fluid reserves. When you drink you need to use the toilet more, you even sweat more, and that dehydrates you. This causes the headaches that characterise hangovers for lots of people – the lack of water actually shrinks your brain!

As you lose water, you also lose electrolytes – these are the salts your body keeps dissolved in its fluid supplies, and are used for lots of important tasks, from regulating fluid balance in your cells to ensuring nerve and muscle function and even maintaining a regular heart beat! When you rehydrate you need to make sure you’re topping up your electrolyte levels too. If you use rehydration tablets hangover symptoms will clear up faster because you’re rehydrating more efficiently than simply by drinking water!