Sometimes I feel like the most ‘introvert’ thing in my life is this one. Introvert hangover.
You can call me a quiet one, a shy one, a sensitive one, a loner, an empath, an anxious one – and these labels are parts of my nature. But you can find extroverts and ambiverts that behave just as such.
But an introvert hangover, well, that’s our thing.
At least that’s how I feel lying in bed and staring at the ceiling the next day after a particularly loud and long gathering. (Or any gathering of more than 4 people, really.)
Sometimes it takes half a day to get over it, sometimes – a couple of days, sometimes – when my mental health is particularly vulnerable – up to a week.
There are pros and cons to being an introvert, and that one is definitely one of the latter.
Or is it?
You can’t be serious, you’re probably thinking, how a hangover can be anything near good?
But it can, for sure, it can be good for you – if you know how to use it. If you know how to embrace your introversion and take this time for yourself, for your own mental health and self-care.
Sounds good enough to try?
What’s An Introvert Hangover
Let’s begin with the basics: Our brains.
Studies have shown that introverts and extroverts experience the world differently due to the difference in brain function.
Extroverts are more tuned into dopamine-rewarding system that provides a person with happy chemicals for achieving good things like food, friends, money, etc. Introverts, in turn, “prefer” acetylcholine that rewards them for staying calm and focused.
It doesn’t mean introverts don’t feel good from dopamine rewards (and vice versa).
It’s just that our brains are more sensitive to it.
That’s why loud noises or prolonged social stimuli exhaust us quicker. Unlike that extrovert friend of yours that could spend a whole night partying and only feel more energized in the morning.
Their brain is high on dopamine while yours is simply overwhelmed with sensations.
And that’s where an introvert hangover comes into play.
It’s called hangover for a reason – because, let’s be honest, physical sensations are pretty similar to the usual, post-alcohol one. Except maybe for stomach problems (although nausea is not uncommon).
Everything else is pretty much the same:
- Concentration problems
- Heightened sensitivity
- Loss of appetite
And probably much more individual ones.
Doesn’t look fun, does it?
Your nervous system, that’s just wired up after too much stimuli, needs time to relax and cool down.
An introvert hangover is basically your brain telling you to stay calm and quiet while it works on restoring your energy. Unfortunately, it isn’t always possible.
That’s why it’s always a good practice to plan things beforehand and make sure you have enough time to rest the next day after a party or family gathering. Just like with usual hangover, you know?
Always allow your brain (and your body) some time to come back to its senses.
How It Can Be Helpful
Now to the most interesting part. How on earth something so bad can be good?
But, as with many other things in your life, everything depends on your perspective.
Of course you can think how awful it is and secretly wish for your introversion to disappear. It’s easy to forget that your behavior is a part of your biology, eh?
You can’t change yourself in a wink of an eye.
But even if it was possible, don’t you think being an introvert has its own perks, worth all the bad days and social awkwardness?
Don’t blame yourself for being yourself. Think of it as a way for your mind to tell you it’s time to focus on your needs as an introvert.
It’s time to turn back to your inner world and find connection with yourself, the one that was lost in the midst of social chaos.
There are many ways to get through an introvert hangover in the most pleasant way possible, but here are my own tips, feel free to try them out!
Listen to Yourself
I’d say it’s the most important step. Acknowledge what’s happening.
Even though I realized I’m an introvert long time ago, it hadn’t occurred to me that socializing and fatigue are related. I’d been thinking it’s just physical tiredness, and my introversion has nothing to do with that.
Can’t say the realization turned my life upside down.
Can’t say it even changed anything.
But at least now I know why I feel how I feel after a particularly long meetup with friends or a couple of days with my lovely but extremely active niece.
And only when you know why something’s happening, you can figure out how to deal with it.
Same goes for mental health as I mentioned in my post on dealing with bad days; to be fair, same goes for practically anything.
Don’t ignore your fatigue and the need for loneliness, they won’t disappear on their own. It’s always better to accept what you feel – and make it a starting point for finding the remedy.
Have a Good Night’s Sleep
One of the main functions of sleep is to restore your energy – and that’s exactly what you need right now.
You must be exhausted anyway, so I don’t have to convince you on that one.
Although one thing I’d like to point out is that late meetups often stretch out far into the night. And here it’s up to you whether you want to stay and get the most out of it or get back home and feel better in the morning.
I’d been that last person to stay for a long time. I didn’t want to miss something while asleep, so as long as one of my friends was staying, I’d be there too.
Took me a while to realize my own sleep is important as well.
And no, even though naps can be a great source of energy, they can’t can restore a full night’s sleep. Similarly, no amount of caffeine can make your fatigue go away.
So, don’t rely on energy boosters and head to bed as soon as tiredness takes over.
Stay at Familiar Places
I’m gonna talk about it a lot, but you have to minimize the amount of unfamiliar things in your surroundings.
Your brain got overwhelmed with all the new information it had to process – and the last thing it needs is something new. You took your time exploring the world and people around, now it’s time to rest.
Being at home is so relaxing exactly because it’s the place you know the best. There you don’t need to check twice where your bed is and whether you have food.
Same goes to other places you visit regularly like work, school or even that coffee shop you stop by every now and then. If you can enter a room and know where most of the things are, your brain already feels more relaxed.
Fun fact: when you bump into things, it means your brain is used to your surroundings. To the point where checking the hallway for possible chairs isn’t deemed necessary (even if now you wish it was).
Create Relaxed Atmosphere
Yes, yes, I’ve been chirping about how a place itself can make you feel safe and relaxed – but a bit of help never harm!
Of course you can’t drastically change your workplace, coffee shop or any other place that doesn’t belong to you in one way or another.
Still, it’s possible to bring more peace into your day by intentionally surrounding yourself with things you enjoy. Soft music, favorite food, pleasant scents, beautiful pictures – there are many ways to bring a smile to your face.
And if you are at home, well, you know better how to make it cozier.
Grab your favorite puzzle or board game, bake some deliciously smelling cookies, relax in the bathtub, or just stay in bed with a cup of hot chocolate and your favorite book!
Stay With Familiar People
Again, you have to stay away from everything unknown and unpredictable, including people.
It may be hard outside of home, but as an introvert you already know all the best ways to avoid unwanted company, right?
Talking to someone you know and love won’t be as exhausting – but still not very pleasant. (After all, talking as a whole is not our biggest strength.)
Texting is better. Always. Texting is always better. Period.
But even that can be quite tiring, so the best way to get through an introvert hangover is to…
Take Your Time Alone
There are introverts of all kinds and shapes but one thing is universal: we all love solitude. Some prefer to keep their alone time short or spend it with loved ones, while others stay on their own for weeks on end.
But we all need to recharge through that peaceful time with ourselves and ourselves only.
It’s as important as socializing itself.
Even if your day is packed with duties and meetings, take a break. Breathe out and spend some time in your inner world.
Five minutes, ten, half an hour – it’ll be enough to get some of the lost energy back. That’s how an introvert’s brain work, and that’s why it’s not just a whim or bad mood. It’s your natural need.
Another problem may appear if you live with someone else – but that one is easier to handle.
Pretend that you’re asleep.
Alright, no, just kidding (or am I?).
The proper way is to talk and explain. Or, if you have doubts about whether the person understood you, mention that you don’t feel well.
It should give you at least a bit of that loneliness you crave.
Find Time for Something You Know And Love
Actually, you should always have a bit of time for that – but right now especially.
After all the stress and overstimulation, wouldn’t it be great to get immersed into something as warm and familiar as a blanket for your mind?
And again, see, another familiar thing for you to find! I wasn’t joking when I said I’m gonna mention it a lot.
Make your day as predictable and calm as possible, and it’ll bring your peace and confidence back.
And what can make you feel more at peace than one of your favorite movies, a book from childhood, or a game you know so well you could win with closed eyes? Or maybe you have a recipe you’ve been itching to try once again? Or a place in your neighborhood you really wanted to revisit? Or, well, you got the idea.
It can be anything as long as it’s something you enjoy and know already.
Try Something New – But Keep It Low Key
But, surely, there’s always a place for something new.
And I know a few people that just don’t enjoy coming back to the things they already tried. (Are they all introverts? Well, that’s a good question.)
Trying something new is always exciting, and thrilling, and unpredictable, and, and, well, not exactly what you need right now. (Not speaking for everyone though – if that’s your cup of tea, you go!)
But if you don’t feel like rewatching your favorite episode of The Office for seventh time, of course you can try something new too. Just don’t take big steps in one go, okay?
Try a new book. I bet you have a whole list of authors and novels you wanted to check out. Today is a perfect day to start! (And if you don’t feel like reading, try audiobooks.)
Same goes for movies, or series, or YouTube videos, or, frankly, any kind of modern (and not so) art. Even if you don’t have a list, for sure you’ve heard or read about things that caught your attention.
And what do you think of board games? They’re an easy, relaxing, and fun way to spend time on your own, so if you have one already, start another round. Otherwise, check my list of best board games for introverts – they’re all different, I’m sure you’ll find something to your taste.
But remember to keep it calm, steady, and familiar.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with that buzz of excitement – it’s a great feeling, but today you have to take care of your already overwhelmed mind first.
Self-Care, Self-Care, Self-Care
If that isn’t obvious already.
Self-care should be a consistent part of your day-to-day routine (and if you want to find out more, check my detailed post on self-care here).
But on a bad day you have to push it to the top of your priorities. Because on a bad day you and your well-being is a top priority, and that’s exactly what self-care is about.
You have to take care of yourself and your needs.
Previous points touched upon the things we as introverts need – alone time, connection with ourselves, peace and quiet.
But only you know what you need as a person.
Maybe you have a friend whose presence makes you feel better? Maybe there’s a place you like to visit when things get too hard to handle? A piece of music to listen? An ice cream flavor to revive childhood memories?
There are many options, many things that can help you personally as well as more general, more usual stuff you can find on the internet (hey there).
Take care of yourself, and the day will turn better and brighter.
Gradually Come Back to Your Usual Schedule
Now, to the last one: Don’t rush to get back to your usual routine unless you feel that you’re ready.
An introvert’s mind needs time to calm down and rewire, and sometimes it may take more than one day. (Just like a usual hangover can leave an aftertaste for a day or two.)
And it’s okay!
It all depends on how your brain works and how much stimulation you had to get through.
I’m fresh from the winter holidays, and Christmas celebration this year (involving my little niece and not-so-little puppy) left me “hanging” for days. Not all the way to the 31st – but it took me some time to unwind.
Of course winter holidays is a more suitable season for a few days of rest than, say, any other time of the year. And that’s why I’ve been mentioning ways to deal with an introvert hangover outside of home.
If it disappeared in a day or even less – great! But if it didn’t, apply my methods and come back to your full-on mode gradually.
Eventually, you’ll come back to your usual, wonderful, introvert self once again.
What do you think of these tips? Let me know in the comments – or head to my winter bucket list for introverts! It’ll give you a few (21, to be precise) ideas on how exactly to spend your day!