What Is An "Introvert Hangover"? Experts Explain How To Spot One Before It Wrecks You
How’s your social calendar looking these days? With summer on the horizon, and that little ray of sunshine icon finally making an appearance on your weather app, it’s likely your weekends are about to get jam-packed with plans. If you’re an extrovert, then you’re probably pumped for barbecues, afternoons by the pool, and long weekends at the beach, but if you’re an introvert, just the mere thought of penciling in events can be exhausting. Imagine waking up the morning after a long night of cheers-ing margarita after margarita with friends; that’s what an introverted hangover feels like, only instead of a few rounds of margs, you’re recuperating from an overabundance of social interaction.
Introverts can be truly fascinating people, because while many of them certainly thrive off of "me" time and introspection, being introverted isn’t necessarily synonymous with being socially anxious, or loathing all social interactions. Being introverted just means you have your limits when it comes to how much time you’re spending with others.
According to clinical psychologist Michael Alcee, Ph.D., an introvert can generally be defined as someone who requires a very specific amount of social interaction, balanced with “a regular supply and connection to their inner energy." Without that balance, he tells Elite Daily, an introvert may become seriously "drained and unmotivated," which more or less describes exactly what an "introvert hangover" is: a feeling of being drained and mentally checked-out after a lot of socializing.
What's more, says Dr. Danielle Forshee, LLC, a doctor of psychology and licensed clinical social worker, is that how an introvert prefers to recharge is a very subjective thing: "Each introvert knows based on a subjective feeling when it’s time to exit the party and go home," she tells Elite Daily, and only they know "how much gas is left in their gas tank of being able to extend energy in energizing others."
When it comes to identifying those signs of when an introvert is on the brink of a hangover, though, those are practically universal. If you're still not sure when to call it, here are a few tell-tale signs your introverted nature is telling you to retreat and recharge.
You've Lost Interest In What's Going On Around You
Oftentimes, this sign of an impending introvert hangover can easily be spotted mid-conversation with a friend, family member, or acquaintance. Alcee describes the sensation as an internal "edge and restlessness" that kind of washes over you like a light switching from "on" to "off." One minute you're interested, even involved in conversation, and the next, you're completely over it and checking the time.
It sounds kind of harsh, doesn't it? But, for introverts, this really is one of those classic situations of, "it's not you, it's actually me." When this happens, Alcee tells Elite Daily, introverts "don't really care anymore what the person is saying, even if it's an area of usual interest."
If that's the case, then do yourself a favor and either thank your host and dip out early, or, Alcee suggests, there's no shame in stepping away for a second to take a mental break. "Whether that means going for a quick breath of fresh air outside or going to the restroom (even if you don't really have to go!)," he says, the goal is clear: get out.
Even The Decor Is Starting To Irritate You
Is it hot in here? Did the lights just get brighter? It might sound a tad irrational, but when you're an introvert who's reached the socializing limit, don't be surprised if everyone and everything starts to irritate you, including the ambiance of a room. According to Alcee, it's a kind of "nagging feeling" that makes you take notice of details you might otherwise pay no attention to, like if the lights or noise levels of the room all of a sudden feel "really turned up."
When your atmosphere becomes overbearing, so to speak, Alcee tells Elite Daily a solid plan of action would be to scope out what he refers to as "introvert sanctuaries," aka secluded spots you can regroup in, and spend a few minutes there checking in with yourself. "It could be a quiet part of your office building or school (the art building was always a good spot in my college days), a local library, or just the closing of your door," he says. "Keep on the lookout for a variety of introvert sanctuaries and nooks where you can refill the well."
You're Cranky AF
Have you ever seen those Snickers commercials where some celeb is super hangry, and all it takes is a bite of chocolate to transform their mood from down in the dumps to just plain delightful? That's kind of how introverts feel when too much social activity gets the better of them, Alcee says.
In order to get back to your most optimal self, he suggests taking a step back from the crowd and redirecting your focus on one person, instead of trying to keep up with the entire group. "Find a way of moving from a larger group and zeroing in on one person to have a more inner-oriented conversation," Alcee tells Elite Daily. This way, he says, you don't necessarily have to duck out of the entire party early, and you'll have the opportunity to spend quality time with someone you ordinarily wouldn't talk to.
You Start Checking Your Social Media Mid-Conversation
According to Robert Glatter, M.D., an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, Northwell Health, many introverts tend to have a love-hate relationship with social media. On the one hand, they can find it daunting, because outlets like Instagram and Facebook are kind of built on that unspoken "pressure to conform," but on the other hand, social media often gives introverts the illusion of social interaction, without actually having to engage in face-to-face conversation.
"[Social media] can allow for introverts to control conversations without distractions, eye contact, and fear of being trapped or cornered by someone in an awkward social situation," Glatter tells Elite Daily. So, if you start reaching for your phone at a party, it's not necessarily because your bored; it might just mean you need a break from the socializing going on IRL, and Kylie Jenner's latest Instagram story is the perfect escape at the moment. It's really NBD, as long as you're able to find balance between these two types of socializing.
You Feel Physically Drained, Too
Too much social activity can be physically draining for someone who identifies as an introvert, so when you think about what an "introvert hangover" really entails, it can happen in just about any context where other people are involved. "When introverts stay at that party too long, or are inundated with group meeting after group meeting, that good 'social connection' moves toward becoming toxic, [similar to] the way alcohol can," Alcee tells Elite Daily. This often translates to introverts not only becoming cranky and irritated, he says, but also disoriented, fatigued, and oversensitive to light and noise. Sound familiar?
You might end up muddling through the rest of your best friend's rager, but when all social activity stops, nurse the physical side effects by sleeping in, drinking some tea, putting your feet up and just losing yourself in a Netflix binge. Trust me, your mind and body will thank you.