The Emotional Hangover

The Emotional Hangover


by Alexandra Brueckner

An emotional hangover can happen when a person experiences strong emotions and feels further aftereffects. For instance, what about the exhaustion that comes after an argument or a stressful life event? Or around the holidays being around family and feeling too many obligations knocking at your door?

I know that when this has happened to me, I experience repetitive thoughts, obsessing over what I said wrong, what other people said, and I mull over and let the thinking marinate too long.  There are some things that help me get through this experience. Even though it is very difficult to get through and tolerate some of these feelings and thoughts after an emotional event, I do a few things:

  1. I first rest. I lay down and close my eyes and take a nap. My body is drained, I may have a headache, and I feel tearful.
  2. I take a shower if I have the energy. The sensory experience of allowing the water to wash over you, cleansing your energy and literally cleaning your body, using soaps and products that have smells you enjoy can bring you out of your head. If you need to cry, then do so. You’re in the shower, so your face is already wet!  I also keep the lights off when I take the shower and I’m in this exhausted state. I might light a candle to have some light, or I’ll crack the door a little bit to allow light in.
  3. Eat something comforting and easy. I like hot cereal like Cream of Wheat or Oatmeal, but you can choose anything that might be easy to prepare. I’m not saying to eat away your emotions, but if you’re hungry, why not have something nourishing and comforting?
  4. Watch a comedy or something silly. Or something sci-fi or fantasy. This might help to bring you into another world.
  5. Check online forums. There are various online platforms that you can access from your phone or computer. If you’re alone and no one’s available to talk, going online to a free forum or even Facebook group is easy, and you can read the experiences of other people who might be struggling with similar issues or who can offer support anonymously. Even though it’s virtual reality, there are real people behind those forums. Life is about connection and relationships. I am open to fostering all kinds of relationships that are supportive and healthy.
  6. Play an easy game. I play Soduko on my phone. I do the easy to medium ones so I feel accomplished when I win.
  7. Listen to a meditation or music you love. I had been listening to Chanticleer and their Christmas music. It’s choral music, and there are a few pieces that ease my mind.
  8. Remember that everyone experiences strong emotions and has life challenges. I forget sometimes because I see lovely pictures people post on social media and think everyone else is happy or has their life together perfectly. It is an illusion of the internet. Don’t believe the hype. Those same people who post happy pictures have also had struggles, loss, and might also be battling problems. Or perhaps they have overcome them and are proud. Try and be easy on yourself. Please!


See NYU’s:–nyu-researchers-.html

See Judith Orloff’s article:

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