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Is a holiday hangover a real thing?

January 10, 2018

By Susan Chance, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

Here we are in the second week of January– many people had extended time off the last few weeks in December, so theoretically most people should be well rested. So why are so many of us tired at this time?
It turns out that holiday hangover is a real thing. Unlike a regular hangover, which is caused by too many cocktails, a holiday hangover is caused by too much of many things.

At this time of year there are a lot of celebrations, and the foods we celebrate with are typically high in salt and fat. We all know that these things aren’t good for our waist lines, but the salt also makes our hearts work harder.

At this time of year we love to indulge in holiday cocktails. While we enjoy communing with the spirits, those cocktails add to both normal hangovers and holiday hangovers. We say cheers to the fun and fellowship over and over again. After all, that is part of the celebration, and we enjoy winding down with a festive libation.

But we don’t stop there, oh no, how can we? There are so many holiday treats. Clients/Vendors send holiday treats to work. Then there are the treats from co-workers/employers. The more treats we have, the more we want. Research has shown that when we eat sugar, opioids and dopamine are released, which causes a high. Just as with drugs, our systems release less dopamine after a time, and we need more sugar to get that same “high.” Most people don’t say no, after all, no one wants to be rude or ungrateful.

Then there are the family gatherings. Most families are not like a Norman Rockwell painting. There is the Uncle who drinks too much and behaves inappropriately, or the cousin who takes a strong stance on politics who decides the family dinner table is the right place to tout those politics. Or perhaps everyone is well behaved, but you spent a lot of time traveling to all of the festivities, sometimes in another city or state, and maybe you had to pack up a car load of people for each trip.

It is also cold and flu season, and even those who are sick don’t stay at home because there is too much to do. While this is the season of giving, germs are not on anyone’s wish list.

Add to that the fact that retail facilities and radio stations start playing Christmas music so early. Linda Blair, a psychologist in Great Britain, claims that too much Christmas music is actually bad for your health. So how is it that those tunes, most of which are happy and peppy, and are created to bring joy, can instead be harmful?

According to Blair, the music is a reminder of the stressful chores that have to be done before the holiday. She says that the music can irritate people if played too early, and I for one can attest to that! The article reported that Best Buy started playing Christmas music on October 22; it seems we can no longer at least make it through Halloween without being bombarded by Christmas.

We can do an awful lot of running without taking time to rest. The day starts early because there is so much to do, and it ends late because of the celebrations. We don’t eat right, and we aren’t sleeping enough or maintaining our normal schedules. We can be stressed by family or sad to say good bye.

We all know that feeling of coming back to work after being off for any extended amount of time.  Add in the stress of the holidays, and that equals tired, exhausted employees.  Do your best to brighten the mood at work and ease employees back into the new year.

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