Suffering From A Vulnerability Hangover? How To Recover From Letting Your Guard Down

If you've ever found yourself in a situation where you allowed yourself to be vulnerable, you'll know it can be exhausting and scary in the aftermath. Vulnerability comes in many forms, and some examples of this include sharing creative work with others, telling a person how they really make you feel, or posting an opinion to a large audience that you would normally keep to yourself. These acts of vulnerability can leave us off-center, tired, and reeling a bit afterward. This sense of dread and exhaustion that comes to us after exposing a part of our inner selves is called a vulnerability hangover.


Research professor Dr. Brené Brown explains that a vulnerability hangover is a feeling of shame that we get directly following a moment of emotionally putting ourselves out there (via It can make us feel achy and weak to have taken this risk, but it's actually proof of great strength. If you've ever felt the hangover that comes from being vulnerable, you are not alone, and there are steps you can take to recover.

Is there a way to avoid a vulnerability hangover?

Vulnerability hangovers happen because at the moment we decide to be vulnerable, we are opening ourselves up to judgment and criticism. Sometimes our intent, when we bare our souls to others, is to connect on a deep level. When we do this there is always a risk that something will go wrong. Our anxiety about being honest with others, while not being comfortable, is normal. It takes strength to be vulnerable and sometimes that can take a toll on our mental and physical health.


A large part of the anxiety comes from knowing we have little control over the end result when we put ourselves out there, as there is always a chance things can go wrong. Knowing this and following through with the task anyway is a sign of courage, not weakness. Because this takes so much energy, the vulnerability hangover is your body recovering from such a leap of faith.

As long as you keep taking emotional risks, which is a good thing, there's no way to avoid vulnerability hangovers altogether. But you can learn to deal with them.

How to recover from letting your guard down

The first step when working through a vulnerability hangover is to pause what you're doing and find a physically or mentally safe space. Choosing Therapy recommends giving yourself permission to be present and honest with yourself. Once you've done that, you can become more fully aware of what causes your vulnerability hangover. 


After giving yourself reflection time, work to find a reset. By meditating on the situation and taking relaxing breaths in a quiet room, you'll have the mental space to be able to move forward in your day. Finally, because vulnerability is actually a good activity to take part in, each time you feel the need to criticize yourself, take a breath and escort those thoughts out of your consciousness. Remember that being honest with yourself and others is a very brave act. 

As you move forward after a vulnerable event, seek people who welcome your ability to be vulnerable and who will help you see the big picture of your life. True friends will love to share creative endeavors with you. When you do cultivate these important relationships, you will start to feel built up rather than depleted. This will help you to extinguish the sting of the vulnerability hangover.