I am a major introvert. I have always been one for as long as I remember. It wasn’t until I was older when I had first heard the word ‘introvert‘ & learned what it meant. Pretty much all of it hit the nail right on the head.
What Is An Introvert?
Usually, people automatically think that an introvert (as opposed to an extrovert) is someone who is very shy, quiet, & likes to keep to themselves. While that is the case for a lot of introverts, especially me, it is not always true.
There are introverts who do enjoy talking to people and going out. But it’s when they hit their social limit that it feels like everything has been drained from them.
Signs of an Introvert
In the U.S., about 1/3 to 1/2 of all people are introverts. You don’t have to have all of these traits listed below, but they are a general guideline:
- You prefer time to yourself – whether it is just relaxing, cleaning, or doing something like a hobby, you enjoy that alone time. Times like this are crucial to your health and happiness. Introverts also enjoy working alone as opposed to in groups.
- You keep a small circle of close friends – High-quality relationships are very important for introverts. I personally have a small circle of very close friends that I enjoy being myself around. I don’t feel the need for awkward small-talk, which is completely dreadful for an introvert.
- Feel drained by social interactions – don’t get me wrong, I enjoy hanging out with people or going places, but it drains all the energy from an introvert. Afterward, I NEED to escape to relax and recharge & oftentimes end up with that ‘Introvert Hangover‘ the next day.
- ‘Zone out’ or go into their own head to rest – sometimes you’re in a situation that you can’t get out of but have already hit that social limit. To others, it looks like you’ve checked out of the conversation or lost focus.
- Daydream or work things out in your mind – this is due to introverts have a very active inner thought process. We like to have all the research done before we pursue anything.
The Science Behind Introverts & Extroverts
A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience discovered that introverts have larger, thicker grey matter in their prefrontal cortex. This is the area of the brain that is associated with abstract thought and decision-making. Extroverts have thinner grey matter. This suggests that they tend to live in the moment.
This video explains how dopamine (the reward-seeking chemical in the brain) has a hand in the difference between an introvert and an extrovert. Both have the same amount of dopamine present in their brains, but it’s more active in the brain of an extrovert.
So, what is this dreaded introvert hangover I mentioned above? Introverts have a social interaction limit. So when that limit has been hit, we tend to check out & need to recharge our batteries, so to speak. It is actually very exhausting.
For me sometimes, it feels not much different from a hangover after drinking too much, even without drinking alcohol. Sometimes I just need a day or two (or more) to be alone and to do my own thing. You can get the body aches and fatigue. I tend to want to sleep all the next day after spending a lot of time with people because I feel like a zombie.
Introvert Hangover Symptoms
- Body aches
- Feeling irritable or annoyed
- Flat & sometimes even depressed
- Feeling over emotional
Although introverts love spending time with friends and family, we still need time for ourselves to reflect & process. Oftentimes this leads to guilt because we can’t understand why we feel this way, even though we were having a good time. Because introverts hate small talk, we tend to feel anxious about certain things we said or did during those conversations http://affectivebrain.com/?attachment_id=5776.
Introvert Hangover Relief
- Schedule time alone – this one is most important. You can’t use a phone with a dead battery. You have to charge it, which is what time alone is doing to you. Cancel anything that’s non-essential so you can enjoy yourself more if/when you do reschedule.
- Take a nap/Meditate – I personally feel like a zombie the next day so I want to sleep sleep sleep. Introverts can feel drained emotionally & physically because it takes a lot of energy to be social, even more so if you are an empath.
- Hydrate & eat healthy foods – that coffee & junk food may make you feel better at first, but that crash will get you later. Drink plenty of water and get some good, healthy food into your body.
- Do something that you enjoy that helps you relax – read a book, play a game, get out in your garden, paint, take a long walk…whatever you enjoy doing. Introverts learn more about themselves this way as well. I like to put my headset on & play Xbox, but I make myself appear offline so I can be with myself in my thoughts or listen to music.
It’s not always easy to avoid the Introvert Hangover. Don’t fill up your schedule with so many social interactions and then not take time for yourself. Sometimes saying no, even though it’s hard to do, can be a tremendous help. It takes a bit to find a balance, but you have to prioritize your own needs to stay happy and healthy.