Just like hangovers result from drinking too many alcoholic beverages, the introvert’s hangover results from too much external stimulation.
We all know that anytime we overdo anything; work too much, play too hard, or even socialize too often, we suffer burnout and breakdown. That’s because the dopamine in our brains likes to reward us with a rush of good feelings when we are in a positive environment, enjoying all the stimulating input coming at us. And when that stops or becomes too much, well…
Depending on how adept an individual is at handling that euphoric buzz determines the extent of the resulting hangover. While extroverted people may go out and seek additional stimulation to cure their hangover, introverts will not. That’s because introverts draw their energy from internal processes, not external stimuli. In other words, they don’t get the same thrill from people-oriented interactions the way extroverts do. It’s not that reserved people don’t like to have fun, achieve their goals, or have relationships; they just prefer different levels of stimulation.
On a daily basis, we humans interact with family, co-workers, friends, and strangers, usually not giving those interactions a second thought. But, if you find yourself feeling drained and uncomfortable, or tired of pretending to be outgoing just to appease those around you, then here are some guidelines that may go a long way in helping you hold on to your sanity.
· Don’t overbook yourself: If there’s an event you want to attend, try to make that happen on a day where you don’t already have a lot going on. You may not feel as overwhelmed if you go out on a Saturday after you have rested all day vs going out on a weeknight after a long day at work.
· Plan recharge time: Get in the habit of blocking out time for yourself on a regular basis to recharge and keep your spirits up. Having more pep to put toward highly stimulating activities means you may suffer less from that socially induced hangover.
· Know you are not the only one: Look around and you may see others who are also quietly standing by themselves. Try approaching them the way you like to be approached, with a calm introduction and a warm smile.
· Never feel bad about walking away: After you’ve had enough conversation and sensory input and you feel its time to go, take yourself to a quieter place. Politely say your goodbyes before the activity cuts too far into your alone time that it becomes difficult to process what you have absorbed.
And finally, learn to manage your energy skillfully and embrace who you are. Introverts have a lot of gifts to offer this world. Look forward to your next social gathering even if you don't know when it might happen. That way you'll feel confident when an opportunity presents itself.