• Monique West, LCSW

Cure Your Emotional Hangover In 3 Steps


We have all experienced or heard of a hangover when you have drunk too much alcohol. A wild night out can lead to an onslaught of difficult symptoms the following morning. A Hangover from drinking can lead to nausea, headache, sensitivity to light and bloating. Emotional Hangover is also a real phenomenon you can experience emotional hangovers from encounters with negative people and toxic environments. "Emotional Hangover" has been studied by New York University researchers they found that our brains process information to create and hold on to memories. Associate Professor Lila Davachi stated that "How we remember events is not just a consequence of the external world we experience, but also strongly influenced by our internal states- and these internal states can persist and color future experiences.

When we encounter critical people and difficult environments we hold on to the internal emotional experience we have to learn how to recognize that we are in a space of being emotionally hungover and take steps to cure it. Signs of being emotionally hungover can include:

  • Increased aggravation, frustration and anger.

  • Having a low fuse.

  • Feeling sad and despondent.

  • Body Fatigue and muscle tension.

  • Heightened irritability.

  • Feeling more critical of self.

  • Irrational Guilt.

  • Increased Self- Blame.

  • Wanting to Self- Isolate.

  • Feeling paranoid or mistrusting of others.

Here are 4 Steps to Curing Your Emotional Hangover:

1. Identify that you are in the emotional trenches

In order to cure your emotional hangover you have to first identify that you are triggered and emotionally activated. There is no way to move past this without first acknowledging you are in a temporary emotional ditch. Identify the varied emotions you are experiencing. The trigger for these emotions and accept them as your current reality. For example if you feel yourself feeling self critical and raw with emotions. Sit down with yourself and ask "where could these feelings be coming from?" You may be able to identify that after you attended your family's Christmas dinner or after that phone call you had with your mother you noticed a decline in your moods and increased anxiety. The next steps is to acknowledge that this event is triggered you and acknowledge that this feeling is temporary and isn't based on your self worth or the essence of who you are. Finding a few verbal affirmations or mantras may be helpful in having you recognize that these feelings will de-intensify.

2. Call a trusted person or speak to a professional

It is important to recognize that in order to detox from an emotional hangover it is imperative to have a support system to offer love and positive words to help you through feeling emotionally stuck. Although you may feel like self isolating challenge yourself to reach out to a friend or licensed therapist and let them know what is going on with you and ask them to help you see this emotional experience in a different way. Self isolation can increase feelings of sadness and low self worth. Join a support group or online group to help bolster social supports.

3. Get in touch with your creativity.

Having your emotions channel into a creative outlet can help you re-center and neutralize intense emotions. Put your emotions into anything that may add some lightness and playfulness to your emotional self. You do not have to a great painter or artist to experiment. Instead of just brooding on the event you’re reliving, use your memory for good to create something more colorful. You can find low cost classes on groupon for dance lessons, painting classes, ceramic making, cooking classes, etc. Paint, draw, write a poem, strum a guitar, etc. Do what feels good for you. Focus on letting it be an outlet for your energy, rather than a challenge to create something perfect or you can even just color in a coloring book.

Emotional Hangovers are an unintended side effect in life as we encounter stress and difficult people. How we cure our hangover, however, is completely up to us. You can choose to take matters in your own hand and add some light and playfulness to your emotions! Contact a licensed therapist if you feel that you are experiencing ongoing depression and anxiety. You can find a licensed therapist in your zip code and insurance network by visiting: www.psychologytoday.com

#emotional #hangover #lonely #relationships

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