Five ways to avoid a Christmas hangover, according to science

  Last updated February 14, 2018 at 9:33 am


With the Christmas party season in full swing, for many that means boozy get-togethers and over-indulgence, but it is possible to have fun while staying in control says a QUT psychologist.

Professor David Kavanagh from QUT’s School of Psychology and Counselling has put together a guide to avoiding the Christmas hangovers and is seeking participants for a study which aims to help people reduce and control their drinking.

“For most people, the holiday season is a long-awaited opportunity to take a break from work, stress and commitments and spend time socialising and relaxing with friends and loved ones,” Professor Kavanagh said.

“Yet it can also be a time of year that brings a certain anxiety with it – anxiety that the silly season might just become that little bit too silly, or that the times of fun and frivolity might also end up being punctuated with mornings of fogginess, headaches and regret.

“However, with a little conscious effort and forward-planning, it is possible for the holiday period to be the merry, festive time it is intended to be, sans the hangovers, poor sleep and guilt.”

Professor Kavanagh said a team of psychologists at QUT had devised the following five tips to ensure you can enjoy the festive celebrations without going over the top:

1. Track your drinking

Keeping a running record of how much you drink is a simple and surprisingly effective way to keep tabs on your habits and highlight when you might need to curb your intake. There are plenty of user-friendly apps around to help but otherwise good old pen-and-paper is a trusty go-to.

2. Plan for temptation

If you have a boozy work party coming up figure out a plan beforehand. Where is your ‘silly’ line? How many drinks would you like to stick to, to be able to feel good the next day? How will you make sure you stick to that limit? This will help you be less likely to fall into the “I’ll see how I feel” trap and make decisions you might regret later.

3. Alternate your drinks

While we might want to throw ourselves into the festive season at full speed and leave work miles behind, our drinking pace doesn’t have to follow suit. At the next event, try alternating between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. It will slow your drinking down and the extra hydration (especially from water) will likely help minimise any hangover.

4. Avoid shouts and top-ups

The holiday season is notorious for peer pressure but try to opt out of shouting drinks. If you can’t avoid it, get yourself some water on your round to slow things down. Avoiding top-ups helps you keep track of how much you’ve had and makes sure your drinking stays at your pace, not anyone else’s.

5. Plan some alcohol-free days

Instead of viewing the whole holiday season as a ‘write-off’, consider it an opportunity to balance out the indulgence with some TLC (Tender Liver Care). Outside of the big social functions and events, schedule some successive non-drinking days to help your body recover. If you’ve got a lot of events on, consider driving to some so they’re not all big drinking events. Your body will thank you.

“Keeping on top of drinking habits isn’t always easy, particularly at this time of year,” Professor Kavanagh said.

“For those seeking extra support or wanting to make a change to their drinking, QUT are currently running a research trial offering a free phone-based approach to help people reduce and control their drinking.”

To find out more or to volunteer, call 1300 300 164 or e-mail

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Lisa Bailey

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