Holiday parties are among the highlights of the winter season, and these parties tend to involve drinking alcohol.
If you’re not careful, you might overindulge in festivities, leading to a hangover the next day. This can become a problem, especially if the next day is a work day.
Caron Treatment Centers recently released survey results from 2,005 adults age 21 and above, suggesting that it is quite common to drink excessively, suffer from a hangover and miss work after a holiday party.
In fact, 64 percent of Americans have either called in sick or know someone who did because of a holiday party hangover.
And 74 percent of holiday party attendees drank more than three alcoholic drinks or know someone who has at a holiday party, which is considered above a moderate alcohol limit.
Drinking out of moderation could be a sign of substance abuse or depression, which are major mental health issues.
The workplace can already be filled with stress and competition, so missing work or having impaired functioning in the workplace just adds to a negative workplace atmosphere.
Sometimes alcohol can lead to destructive behavior, which is even worse if the holiday party involves co-workers.
Survey results showed that most people who have attended holiday parties noticed behaviors such as arguing and aggression, excessive use of profanity, drunk driving and inappropriate disclosure of private details.
Dr. Harris B. Stratyner, the vice president of Caron Treatment Centers and New York regional clinical director, said in an email that hangovers can be terrible for mental health because dehydration leads to an “alcoholic migraine.” Serotonin levels also decrease, which leads to depression.
“Drinking too much alcohol can affect your mental health and harm your status in the workplace, because you can come off looking immature and having poor judgment,” Stratyner said.
“Employers and colleagues will start to question your judgment, therefore leading them to question your reliability to meet deadlines and do your job well.”
He suggested only drinking a maximum of two alcoholic drinks at work-related events. And if you can’t drink in moderation, that is a major red flag.
“I would say that having a hangover and missing work after a holiday party is a sign that you have a problem with alcohol,” Stratyner said. “Anytime alcohol interferes in your life, you have a problem with alcohol. You have now interrupted the way you earn your living.”
Many employers have to make cuts as it is, so looking irresponsible and foolish by over-drinking at a holiday party is not a wise choice. Unfortunately, he said it is quite common for people to overindulge in alcohol during the holidays due to holiday stress.
“People tend to self medicate because they want to relax, escape or manage difficult emotions that may come up,” Stratyner said.
However, alcohol tends to cause more problems than it solves. He suggested engaging in healthier ways to relieve holiday stress, such as shopping early and online, planning a potluck holiday dinner so everyone contributes, and avoiding alcohol and drugs (especially while driving). He recommended exercising consistently, and focusing only on positive past holiday memories.
Rosalie Moscoe, a registered nutritional consultant practitioner and author of “Frazzled Hurried Woman! Your Stress Relief Guide to Thriving ... Not Merely Surviving,” said in an email that hangovers can lead to lower self esteem, especially if people are perceived poorly in the workplace because of their lack of control.
Besides a hangover, an excess of sweets and alcohol can also lead to hypoglycemia, which is associated with mood swings.
She said that for people who are already struggling with substance abuse, holiday parties can be a trigger because of the acceptability of profuse amounts of alcohol.
It can be tempting to drink more at holiday parties because of all the additional holiday stress that piles up, including financial stress and dealing potentially with unpleasant family members.
Nerina Garcia-Arcement, a licensed clinical psychologist, said in an email that if holiday parties involve co-workers, sometimes it can be an awkward situation.
People are anxious about how they should be acting. They might think that drinking alcohol will relieve any tension, stress and anxiety about the situation.
People who do decide to overindulge in alcohol can suffer side effects of hangovers like low energy level, concentration and attention problems and changes in mood.
Garcia-Arcement said that overdrinking one time and suffering the consequences at work might not be a dealbreaker for employers. However, if it’s on a consistent basis, this could be a sign of serious mental health issues and you could lose your credibility at work (or your job).
Caron Treatment Centers. Hungover at Work During the Holiday Season? Web. Dec. 3, 2012.
Stratyner, Harris. Email interview. Dec. 3, 2012.
Moscoe, Rosalie. Email interview. Dec. 3, 2012.
Garcia-Arcement, Nerina. Email interview. Dec. 3, 2012.
Reviewed December 4, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith