Introverts: Here’s How To Combat That Drained Feeling After Too Much Peopling

by Nikkya Hargrove
Originally Published: 
An illustration of a stressed-out introvert woman sitting and thinking

The only hangover I’ve ever had that made the room spin right there in front of me was during my junior year in college when I got shit-faced drunk in Mexico. I was in the company of good friends, who after a night of drinking, talking, and more drinking, put me in a cab, threatened the taxi-driver —in Spanish — and informed him of what would happen to him if I did not arrive safely to my host family. They sent me on my way, head heavy and stomach churning.

The next morning I wished I’d not finished that last shot of tequila. But my body wasn’t the only thing feeling the effects — I was emotionally exhausted too. Because as an introvert, making small talk the night before with friends and strangers alike had drained my energy as well. I was not only dealing with a hangover, the alcohol-induced kind, but also an “introvert hangover.”

Studies show that 25%-40% of the population identify as introverts, a personality trait that has a scientific base. One theory from psychologist Hans Eysenck says that, “introverts are those that have naturally high levels of arousal. Because introverts tend to experience chronically high arousal levels, they tend to seek activities and environments where they can escape from overstimulation. Because of their naturally high arousal levels, they are more alert and take in more information from the environment.”

For some people, making small talk, having weekly dinner parties, chatting on the phone (duh, why not text), and just being around people are enjoyable activities. I call those people extroverts. I am not one of them. Yes, I fit into the stereotype of that writer who can spend long stretches alone. And I need to, in order to function and replenish my energy reserves. A simple Google search will yield over 600,000 results to define what an introvert hangover is. Simply put, it is the exhaustion that follows someone (an introvert) during and after socializing with people or social burnout.

If everything (even the little things) is getting on your nerves, you’re struggling to make decisions, can’t think clearly, and most overwhelmingly, have an intense desire to be alone — you may be suffering from an introvert hangover. So, what do we do to recover?

Here are five tips.

Listen to your inner voice.

That voice is not there to exhaust you; it’s telling you quite the opposite. When you feel the need to leave a social situation, when that little voice says, “I think you’ve had enough,” agree with it and remove yourself from that social situation. You will know when it’s time to leave that party, your kid’s playdate, well, you get the point. Don’t ignore that urge.

Turn off the cell phone.

I know, this one is easier said than done — but the day after, when you feel depleted, answering that phone call or that text message is taking away valuable energy that you need to regroup. So, go ahead and turn on your do not disturb. Emily Shaw, a writer with Introvert, Dear, says, “The world of phone calls and texting was not created with introverts in mind. I’ll be nose deep in a book, or thinking about something important, and then ding!” In short, don’t let your phone ding as you recover from your introvert hangover.

Carve out alone time.

It might come down to even adding your own name into your Apple calendar. This part is essential when it comes to replenishing your energy reserves. No matter what you have planned, cancel it and prioritize your solitude. If you have kids, ask if someone can take them for a short break — or at the very least, get them occupied with something while you sit in silence for a few.

Writer and self-described introvert Shawna Carter says, “If I pack my social calendar too full, I’m likely to experience an ‘introvert’ hangover because I didn’t leave time for myself to be alone and recharge my mental batteries.” Prioritize yourself, your energy, and you will thank yourself for it.

Each week, my wife and I give one another time “off” – time away from the responsibilities of our family. My day is Saturday, every single week, to sit in silence and be alone for a few hours if I choose, but that time replenishes my soul.

Holly, mom of one, gives us a taste of what has helped her over the years: “When I’ve been with other people, I need to build in some recharge time using sensory tools. The first choice is always walking in nature (alone) without music or talking on the phone or a podcast. Nothing but me, the birds, the breeze, the bugs, the leaves. I focus on the smells, the sounds, the sensations. I swing my arms with reckless abandon. Sometimes I sing loudly. Always I breathe deeply. Occasionally I chant. If some version of that is not an option, I try to find 10 minutes to lie on the floor on my back and listen to a Tibetan chant or Chakra Healing bowls (Youtube). I let the vibrations offer a system reset. Showers with favorite smelling soap help in a pinch. Breathing in that fragrance that has soothed me for years.”

One mom of four, Christina, offers a few ideas of what she does when she is feeling depleted because of people, “I have found that I often need to sit in a quiet room and do what I love to do–read–with zero interruptions. With four kids and four animals and a husband, I don’t get that often, but even a quick five minutes of absolute silence helps. Another good option for me is to take a walk outside. The key item for me is the silence, though outside noise isn’t too bad.”

What a gift to breathe in all that you need to replenish those energy reserves of yours.

Take a nap.

This is something I’ve never done. I rise with the sun and I go to sleep every night before 10 pm — some nights, nine! But I’ve heard from others that taking naps gets them through their days. It can mean a world of difference for you as you recover from your introvert hangover.

Introverts are often insomniacs. In one study conducted by The Sleep Foundation, researchers found that introverts “get poorer quality sleep, and experience more nightmares and periods of wakefulness. They also reported feeling more tired and less alert during the day.” So, take that nap so you can recover.

Take a drive…alone.

That detour after dropping the kids off at school, taking the long way home after work, or taking a drive just because can soothe the introvert’s soul. I like to drive, maybe because it’s something I have control over (I also like being in control).

Courtney, mom of three, shares, “I try to steal a day or afternoon for myself whenever I can, to go to a museum or a movie or something for some alone time without the kids. But since those moments are hard to come by, I try to make the most of the opportunities that happen every day. Like solo car rides after I drop the kids at school. I put on my favorite music and I daydream or visualize myself achieving goals or celebrating something. Sometimes, when I get the rare moment home alone, I have to convince myself to not always do chores. But instead in those moments choose to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee. Or watch or read something I enjoy for a half hour. I also stay up later than everyone else just to get that hour to myself from 11-midnight. Even if it often leaves me exhausted the next day. Night owl for life.”

The moral of the introvert story is to take time, listen to your body, and do what is right for you, no matter what others say — and they will have something to say if you leave that party early. But they’re not the ones who have to deal with the “hangover”, so let them stay behind and chat the night away.

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