Emotional Hangovers Are a Real Thing — Here’s How to Cure Them

Many of us (unfortunately) know what a hangover is and have experienced one. After a long night of drinking, we wake up feeling sluggish, dizzy and nauseated and have a sensitivity to light or sound. But it’s not just alcohol that can make you feel awful the next day — emotions can have the same effect. So what is an emotional hangover?

Well, as someone who has experience numerous emotional hangovers, let me explain.

An emotional hangover occurs after a serious or traumatic event. It can also occur after an argument, a difficult day at work or a breakup from your partner/friend. However, my emotional hangovers usually occur after a long day of “peopling,” or socializing.

Let me back up a bit. As someone who struggles with severe social anxiety, leaving my house is often a chore. And so, when I get home, I often crash. My thoughts are clouded, my feelings are nonexistent and I am — literally and figuratively — burned out. Oh, and the next morning? I feel drained and exhausted. I am in pain. (Literally. My bones throb and my joints ache.) And I am moody and, well, off.

On paper, the reason for this is simple. As Dr. Judith Orloff, author of The Empath’s Survival Guide, wrote in Psychology Today, emotional hangovers are the “energetic residue left over from the interaction,” and without an outlet, this energy affects your physical well-being. They can make you feel tired, foggy or ill.

But just being aware of the issue doesn’t make it any better. It doesn’t make it any easier, and the “aftermath” is still hard. But there are a few strategies I have found helpful when dealing with my own emotional hangovers.