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Emotional Hangover

What is it? 

An emotional hangover is when an individual feels emotionally and mentally fatigued after a distressing event.   


When does this happen? 

  • Social Interactions: Social interactions are events and situations where an individual talks to or gets together with other people.  Some examples are celebrations, meetups with friends, company parties, or daily interactions with other people at work, home, or in the community. These can vary in the length of time, the amount of people involved, type of setting it’s located at, and the amount of stimuli (i.e., sounds, smells, temperature, etc.).   
  • Relationships:  Relationships can include friendships, romantic relationships, platonic relationships, professional relationships with co-workers and bosses, school relationships with classmates, and family relationships. Within these relationships are the possibility of moments of disagreements, break-ups, tension, or conflict.  
  • Distressing Events or Situations:  Distressing events and situations can be big or small; however, the impact is what leads to the emotional hangover.  Some examples are a stressful day, a challenging situation, a crisis that needed attention, an uncomfortable or awkward situation, or an unexpected task, to name a few. 


Things to consider: 

  • Recovery: Emotional hangovers leave a residue of emotions, so one helpful strategy is taking care of yourself afterward. This can include maintaining hygiene tasks of sleeping and eating meals, scheduling times of solitude, engaging in healthy tasks that provide comfort, and being compassionate towards yourself. 
  • Preparing for the future: Identify what activated your emotional hangover and create an action plan for moving forward. Then, reflect on what you would like your limits and boundaries to be.   
  • Consider therapy: Change is difficult and so is responding to unexpected situations. If you would like assistance, a therapist can help you to process, recover, and move forward so that you have improved mental health.   



Don’t wait to get the help you need. If you would like to take the next step towards finding a therapist, contact Ethera to get matched with a provider. 


About the Author:  Robyn Tamanaha is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, writer, and podcaster. She has a private practice in Irvine, CA and is the creator and host of the podcast Books Between Sessions.