How To Identify An Introvert Hangover

Have you ever experienced the feeling of sheer exhaustion after the holiday season or another period of intense socialization wraps up? Do you find yourself on edge and irritable on days when you haven't had the opportunity to spend any time alone? You might be an introvert. The word introvert is commonly used to describe a person who is shy, socially awkward, or withdrawn. Many times, this is not actually the case. An introvert is simply a person whose energy is depleted by socialization and recharged by solitude. This is the opposite of an extrovert, whose energy is recharged by socialization and drained by solitude (via Introvert, Dear).


An introvert doesn't necessarily dislike other people or socializing; they just pay a price for it, energetically. This is thought to be caused by owning a brain with extra dopamine receptors, according to Therapy Changes. When an introvert pushes through and continues to socialize past the point of exhaustion and overstimulation, they might experience something akin to the hangover that occurs when a person drinks too much alcohol. Here's how to know if you're experiencing an introvert hangover and what to do about it. 

What does an introvert hangover look like?

An introvert hangover, also referred to as social burnout, social fatigue, or social exhaustion, often starts with a feeling of general anxiety or irritability. However, it is much more than just feeling a little tired or on edge. If social interactions are continued, physical symptoms like headaches or migraines might appear. Eventually, you can find yourself feeling incapable of connecting to other people and may even spiral into a full-blown anxiety attack or depressive episode.


If you suspect that you're an introvert but aren't completely sure, you may wish to verify by taking a Meyers-Briggs based personality test at 16Personalities. The first letter of your personality type will stand for either introverted or extroverted. Once you've identified yourself as an introvert, you'll know that prevention is the key to avoiding social burnout. Knowing why you struggle with extended socialization can make it easier to accept and easier to explain to others why you need breaks from the action. 

How to recover

If it's too late for prevention and you've already reached a state of social exhaustion, try not to panic. You will recover, and there are steps you can take to make that recovery quicker and easier. First, remove yourself from any social situations, even if that means stepping outside or excusing yourself to the restroom. Close your eyes to remove as much external stimulation as possible and concentrate on taking deep breaths from your belly. Place your tongue against the roof of your mouth. In your mind, count slowly to four on your inhale, hold for seven counts, then count to eight on your exhale. Repeat this four times and notice your body relaxing (via Healthline).


If you are able to, clear the rest of the day's schedule and spend it alone. Read a book, create art, binge a show, lay in bed and listen to podcasts, exercise, or spend time doing anything that feels restorative to you. If you're at work or on childcare duty, immediately schedule alone time for as soon as possible, even if that means asking for help from someone else. Once you've recovered, make a plan to incorporate preventative recovery time into your regular schedule (via The Happiness Clinic).