From a brisk jog to hair of the dog, we all have our go-to hangover cures. In an ideal world, hangovers wouldn’t exist, of course, but in a slightly less ideal world, they would be confined to Sundays. The story would go a little something like this. You had a few too many glasses of prosecco at the gala (or tequila shots at the dive bar), but no matter how awful you feel, at least you have absolutely nothing on your agenda today other than slowly recover.
Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in. Hangovers, like most things, refuse to show up when they’re convenient and manageable. Hangovers, like that skater you met on Tinder, show up consistently when and only when you drink too much. I know, it’s cruel and unfair, but the sooner we accept the reality, the sooner we can do something about it.
Of course, well all know deep down that the only thing that really cures a hangover is time. But when you wake up in that deep pit of pain, nausea, anxiety and despair, you’ll do anything to climb out a little faster.
And even though you can’t really cure a hangover, it might be worth trying. It’s like placebo effect: going through the act of the hangover cure is oddly soothing in itself. And since so many hangover symptoms are psychological, you need all the soothing you can get.
In that spirit, let’s dive into the wild world of hangover cures, by artists and for artists.
1) A morning swim, Zelda Fitzgerald’s hangover cure
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Hangover (1889).
We can’t all live in Bali, but if you’re near a beach or a pool, make like Zelda and go for a dip. Most famous as the wife of Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda was also a writer, a painter and a ballerina—and a bit of a boozer. Around 11am, Zelda would start sipping on vodka lemonade, which carried her straight through the afternoon, ballet practice and a night out on the town. Her secret? A morning swim to perk her up—and wash away the smell of vodka sweat.
While we definitely don’t advocate the rest of her routine, her hangover cure is actually one of the best. Exercise might help jump-start the detox process, and cold water is literally and psychologically cleansing. For obvious reasons, it’s hard to feel heavy and depressed while you’re splashing around in the ocean under a clear sky. But even a dip in the pool, in the tub, or worst case, sticking your head under the faucet, can leave you feeling like a brand new person. It’s amazing what a little water can do.
2) Sex and an avocado, an barman’s hangover cure
Next time you’re getting ready for a night out, stock up the fridge with avocados and hop on Bumble. In 1961, American researcher Frank M. Paulsen published a study of hangover cures collected from random people around the U.S. Some of them are completely disgusting—eat a whole raw onion like an apple—and others sound delightful—take the day off and go fishing. But our favorite has to be #91, as told by by a bartender of 15 years, so he should know.
The cure? Go to the store, buy a perfectly ripe avocado, peel it, salt it and eat it. Then, have sex: “nothing in bad taste, not fast, not vulgar. Take your time.” But only once! After dozing off for a bit, take a long, hot shower, shave (“use that sexy lotion”) and you’re ready to head off into the office or the studio.
For those of us that use sex, as well as booze, as fuel for our creative practices, this cure is like killing two birds with one stone. And there’s a pretty good chance that it’ll work. With all those healthy fats, avocados are a healthier way to stave off that ravenous hungover feeling than a greasy diner breakfast. And orgasm helps regulate your appetite, emotions, digestion, mood, and even helps your body’s natural detox process. It also boosts your levels of feel-good endorphins, and helps you relax by flushing cortisol, an inflammatory stress hormone, out of your system.
No lover on hand? No problem: giving yourself a hand works just as well.
Close-up of Tracey Emin’s My Bed (1998).
In the infamous My Bed, Tracey Emin literally aired her dirty laundry in the name of art. The condom wrappers, vodka bottles, cigarettes and stained underwear were much more than just trash left on the floor after a rough breakup: they represent portals into her private inner universe. But for our purposes today, one item stands out: a bottle of Orangina. We don’t have to search far to divine its purposes; there’s an empty bottle of Absolut right next to it. Even in her shattered state, Emin was apparently lucid enough to try to cure what must have been the mother of all hangovers.
Hers is a sugary twist on an old classic: some form of juice is one of the most cited hangover cures in the book. Some people swear by tomato (or make it a Bloody Mary while you’re at it), while today, we’re more likely to be chugging whatever $15 green juice Gwyneth Paltrow most recently vetted.
Needless to say, Emin’s 90s is about as far from Goop culture as you can get, hence the sugary soda. But actually, you can probably do just as well with an Orangina as with a Moon Juice. Both will deliver some Vitamin C and sugar to help stave off the hangover hypoglycemia and the weakness and wobbly body that comes with it.
4) Wake and bake
Film still from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
When you think arty, bohemian lifestyle, alcohol will always be the number one substance that comes to mind, but weed is a close second. It’s not just the Bob Marley and Baudelaire that liked to hit the bong; plenty artists, writers, poets and musicians throughout history have been weed aficionados. Modigliani was apparently a smoker, although, to be fair, the man ingested pretty much everything that crossed his path. From Shakespeare to Queen Victoria, from the ancient Greeks to Lil’ Peep, everyone and their creative grandma is puff-puff-passing these days, or so it seems.
That’s probably because since legalization in many U.S. states, weed culture has become much more mainstream. Media outlets that never would’ve touched marijuana 10 years ago are now publishing guides and recommendations. Health stores aren’t shying away from carrying CBD products, and health professionals are prescribing medical marijuana right and left. There are blogs, forums, and even podcasts like Stoner, where creative people discuss their weed experiences.
This new explosion in weed culture includes the art world, of course. More artists than ever are opening up about how marijuana affects their creativity. Even Artsy published a story looking into the relationship between art and weed.
If you’re an artist who already dabbles in weed, why not kill two birds with one stone—use weed to kill your hangover while getting in the zone? I don’t have much hard, but weed people claim that weed makes a great hangover cure.
Using another substance when you already overdid it with one doesn’t sound like the best idea, but hear me out. You don’t want to overdo it, but a couple hits first thing in the morning could be just the thing to lessen your worst symptoms.
The effects of the marijuana could help calm your nausea and stimulate your appetite, so you can eat something nourishing to help jump-start your recovery. It’ll also relax your body, soothing muscle aches and overall feelings of shittiness. Finally, if you’re someone that’s calmed by the effects of weed, smoking could help alleviate your feelings of anxiety and overall doom, letting you pass out so you can sleep off the rest.
However you spin it (don’t even get me started on the spins…), art and booze are a match made in tipsy heaven. We’ve heard that behind every great male artist, there’s usually an even greater woman—but there’s probably also a small lake-full of whiskey. Sure, I’m kidding, but only half. Maybe it has something to do with artists being naturally uninhibited and liking to test the limits of life; maybe alcohol is just the tortured artist’s medicine of choice. Maybe it’s a little bit of both. But true or not, the boozy bohemian stereotype isn’t going anywhere.
Which brings up the question: how do these boozy bohemians get around to creating their brilliant works of art? If you’ve ever had a hangover, you know that “productive” is the last thing you’re going to be that day. If you can manage “not a comatose lump,” that’s already a major accomplishment.
But believe it or not, some artists use their hangovers as fuel for the fire. Or so they say—maybe they’re just lying to themselves as an excuse to keep getting wildly drunk all the time. We’ll just have to take their word for it.
For German artist and illustrator Yeye Weller, the best moment to make art is hungover in bed, no distractions, just a keyboard and a pizza. And he’s not the only one; I have an artist friend who’s gone on the record saying that the floaty, hazy hungover feeling is the only time she can think straight. If only we could all be so lucky.
Even if you’re not quite ready to mine the depths of your hungover despair for creative inspiration, you might be able to use art to soothe your pain. Both looking at art and making it is majorly cathartic—there’s even an app for it. If not curing your pain, it will at least distract you from it for a little while. I’ll leave you with a quote by William Faulkner:
I think that — that anyone, the painter, the musician, the writer works in a—a kind of an—an insane fury. He’s demon-driven. He can get up feeling rotten, with a hangover, or with—with actual pain, and—and if he gets to work, the first thing he knows, he don’t remember that pain, that hangover—he’s too busy.
Sounds great, except for that little bit about “actual pain.” It seems to me that anyone that’s ever had a hangover would know that the experience is the epitome of “actual pain.” Is he implying that our headaches, nausea and self-loathing are just an illusion? Has Faulkner actually ever had a hangover? Regardless, this is a method I’ll be trying out in the near future—probably this weekend.
Images via @sarahbahbah, WikiArt, Tate, Pinterest, @primaryprojects