The Introvert Hangover

The Introvert Hangover: What It Is and Top Tips for How to Cope

1) How to recognise an introvert hangover

You’ve had a busy day, or week, or year and you’re feeling exhausted. Not just a bit tired, but really tired. Your brain is foggy. You find making any decisions practically impossible. You have little or no patience – everything is getting on your nerves. You have a strong need to be alone. You’re feeling anxious. You may be struggling to find the right words. Even the thought of having to talk to anyone is just too much. You may well be suffering from an introvert hangover. And yes, this is a real thing!

It doesn’t sound great, and it isn’t. I should know. I’ve had many an introvert hangover over the years, but I didn’t know what was happening to me until recently.

However, because generally you won’t have other symptoms typical of thinking that you are ill such as a sore throat, a temperature a rash or vomiting you may doubt that there is anything wrong with you and feel that you’re skiving and you need to keep going.

Please learn to listen to your body and work with it. If you get all, or any, of the above signs is it is your body’s early warning system telling you to take action. Introvert hangovers are not inevitable. There are many strategies that can help you maintain your energy levels.

2) What causes it?

Simply put, an introvert hangover is caused by spending too much time out in the world without prioritising quiet time to restore your energy. Remember that introverts are drained by social interaction and stimulating environments – even if they are having fun. Without time out your battery will be totally flat and that introvert hangover will be all but inevitable.

If you spend all day at school or at work surrounded by others, you may not have the opportunity to escape to a place of peace and you will likely be exhausted by the end of the day. The same can occur if you are with a group friends or at home, particularly if there are people visiting. It can feel impossible to carve out the quiet time you need to feel human again. Time to recharge is a necessity for you to be able to function, not a nice to have.

3) How to manage it

Firstly, understand that you are a finite resource with a certain amount of energy. Think about what drains and restores you. How about making a list? As for what restores you, it may be daydreaming, listening to music, reading, doing your hobbies or doing some exercise. It doesn’t always have to be things that you do alone. You will know what works best for you.

Secondly, be aware of what you have coming up each week. Think about when you may need to boost and protect your energy. Schedule in time to pre-charge before, or recharge after events. Make these energy boosting sessions non-negotiable and put them in your timetable as you do other commitments.

Thirdly, don’t ignore your body’s signs that it’s all too much. An introvert hangover is very real and will leave you pretty much incapacitated until you are able to rest.

And finally, it can really help if you communicate to others what’s happening to you. Your friends and family will realise that it’s nothing personal. They will learn to respect your need for quiet time to boost your energy. Everyone will benefit when this happens.

4) Bonus: Quick energy boosters

You may not always be able to get away for the restorative quiet you need – which is another reason to plan ahead and have it scheduled in. However, sometimes your battery running flat will sneak up on you and you’ll need a quick boost to tide you over until you can have time to recharge.

Here are a few suggestions, some of which you may instinctively do already:

  • Leave the room, even if it’s just escaping to the bathroom for a few moments of peace.
  • Take some deep breaths.
  • Your phone can be really useful here; how about escaping because you “need” to make a call or send a message?
  • Utilise headphones. Stick them on even if you pretend to be listening to or watching something on your phone.
  • If you’ve got a bit longer, how about taking a quick nap?

I suffered from introvert hangovers for years from my teens onwards. I would get to a point where the only thing that was going to make me feel better was going to bed. Sometimes for an hour or two. Sometimes for a few days. While I knew I wasn’t actually ill, I also knew that I absolutely had to stop. After my rest time, I would feel completely normal again: full of energy, clear-headed and motivated. This helped validate the fact that what I was experiencing was an actual thing and that I truly did need the time to rest.

While I can still push myself too far, I am becoming much better at recognising and managing my need to rest and recharge. I understand that is it not selfish but essential. It’s not just me who benefits, but those around me too.

What’s going to be your first step to manage your energy?