If you’re an introvert you are also very creative, highly sensitive, and cerebral. In other words, all the things that make you brilliant also make you more prone to feeling overwhelmed and depleted.
The good news is that full-on burnout can be avoided. The first step is to look for the signs.
Read on for 21 clear signs of introvert burnout with effective coping strategies below:
Let’s dive right into it.
1. Low Energy Level
You may feel tired even after resting or not doing very much and even more tired than usual after social interactions.
Severe burn out could even be a period of complete exhaustion and lack of energy
This may be a reminder that you need to realign and rebalance.
2. Lack Of Motivation
This is linked to the lack of energy you experience when you are burnt out but extending beyond just physical energy levels.
Lack of motivation is when you mentally have no inspiration, desire or will to do the things you require doing as well as things you enjoy doing.
If you have a serious case of introvert burnout you’ll probably even lack motivation within your precious alone time, you may even feel like you don’t have the energy or will for activities you usually find enjoyable.
3. Negative Or Pessimistic Mindset
You tend to look at life in a way that makes you feel negative emotions and that’s not usually like you.
Your perspective is focused on what is going wrong and what can go wrong.
If you feel stuck in a fearful and negative mindset this can be a sign of introvert burnout.
4. Feeling Disconnected Or Disassociated
If you’re feeling disconnected from reality and unable to stay present, this is a big sign.
Feeling out of place and actively detaching completely so much that you struggle to function is burn out.
This is when you’re feeling unclear about who you are and disconnected from your mind, body and spirit.
5. Physical Symptoms Imbalances And Sicknesses
Stress is one of the main causes of a weakened immune system which can make you more susceptible to illness and slower in physical healing processes.
Stress can also disrupt the body’s hormone systems which are responsible for regulating so many of our vital bodily and emotional processes (such as mood regulation, growth, sleep, and metabolism).
Physical symptoms or imbalances in any of these areas could be linked to the stress you are experiencing as a result of introvert burnout.
With burnout you may find you have a shorter fuse, an uncharacteristic temper, or disproportionate reactions to the experiences and people in your life.
7. Social Burnout
You might feel like you’ve lost your ability to keep up your social life or you pretend you want to socialize just to feel functional.
Or you have an even lower tolerance for small talk and chit-chat becomes unbearable. then you are probably in a state of introvert burnout.
8. Mental Fogginess
Lack of clarity or mental fog and confusion can be a sign of introvert burnout.
This can be a result of mental exhaustion, it may be that your mind takes the deep rest that it needs by slowing down thoughts and mental processes.
This can make you feel as if you are foggy in contrast to the usual pace of your mind.
9. Social Anxiety
A very obvious sign of introvert burnout is social anxiety and increased levels of anxiety in general.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a given that an introvert will have social anxiety. An introvert simply prefers and thrives in being alone or in quiet calm spaces. Otherwise, social exhaustion with burnout can set in.
When they choose and when their social battery is charged, they are completely capable of confidence and conversation the same way as anyone else.
If you’re experiencing introvert burnout you may find you develop social anxiety when overwhelmed. If you usually do experience social anxiety it can become more intense due to burnout.
If depression is something that affects you in general then introvert burnout can likely trigger depressed feelings, for no apparent reason, due to common signs of a lack of physical, mental, and emotional energy to interact with life.
However, for some, not everyone, introvert burnout itself can lead to depression. It’s very important to value your well being all the time.
11. Lack Of Focus And Concentration
This can be one of the first warning signs of burnout. Struggling, or becoming unable to focus on interactions, conversations or your daily tasks can be a challenge when you are experiencing introvert burnout.
Again, this is due to the lack of energy and motivation that is caused by overextending yourself.
12. Problems Relating To Others
This is such a common sign of introvert burnout and it can be very frustrating to experience, you could feel like you can’t relate to people around you.
It can be tricky to explain what you are going through as a lot of people or society, in general, seem to value extroversion as a desired and valid way of being.
Work, friends, or family may prefer an explanation as to why you’re feeling burnout and they may not understand.
Don’t let this stop you from communicating what’s true for you and taking care of yourself even if you feel misunderstood. Find Strategies to Heal Relationship Burnout – Backed by Science.
13. Sleep Issues
Even though you’ve spent most of your day sitting at the table sharing drinks and laughs with your friends, you somehow feel spent.
Introvert burnout can cause trouble sleeping, early waking, or difficulty getting up despite having slept a reasonable number of hours.
When we hear the word ‘exhaustion,’ most of us will probably imagine body aches and pains. But this is not like that.
Feeling unable to be refreshed after a weekend or a night’s sleep and it has become a pattern. This is exhaustion.
No longer really caring about your work performance because you don’t have the energy to care or having trouble connecting with others is an example of introvert burnout.
It’s all due to an overstimulated brain that cannot perform at its best unless you give it a moment to power down and regain internal balance.
16. Easily Irritated
When your mind feels like it’s about to shut down completely, even the smallest request or disturbance can get on your nerves pretty easily.
It’s like pouring a few drops of water into an already full glass. It will spill.
The bottom line is that introverts are not irritable, bitter, or passive-aggressive by nature.
If they display such attitudes, they probably feel overwhelmed and need some time to reconnect with themselves.
17. Difficulty With Decisions
With a brain that is overstimulated, even simple decisions like what to eat for dinner seem impossible to make.
On top of that, when you’re dealing with introvert burnout, the chances of making hasty or even ‘bad’ decisions are somewhat higher.
Long story short, best not to make important decisions while under the effect of an introvert hangover.
18. Easily Distracted
When your brain is overstimulated, and your mind is all over the place.
Dealing with introvert burnout, something as simple as a notification alert is enough to distract you from what you’re doing.
Even if you’re reading or watching a movie you like, you will notice that you tend to zone out or lose your focus the minute your phone buzzes.
Perhaps a quick nap could help you recalibrate and recharge.
19. Headaches And Migraines
Given that your body and mind share a strong link, introvert burnout is often accompanied by a wide range of physical symptoms.
Some of the most common ones are headaches and migraines. Once again, your brain is telling your body that you need to power down asap.
20. Escapist Fantasies
Finding yourself daydreaming or fantasizing scenarios of moving away or quitting work that increase to the point of becoming intrusive.
These fantasies distract you and make it difficult to focus on your work in some way.
21. Addictive Behaviors Arising Or Resurfacing
When all the above factors are combined and experienced it can trigger the desire for escapism. This can result in unhealthy coping mechanisms resurfacing or forming.
If you’re experiencing this level of burnout it is imperative for you to commit to doing everything you can to heal your burnout and of course, seek relevant professional assistance if you feel it’s necessary.
If you identify as more of an introvert than an extrovert, you’ll know that means you are more energised by spending time on your own, or in very small intimate groups of people you trust.
It doesn’t mean you’re a hermit or dislike social situations — you just often need time to recharge alone after them.
This alone time is sometimes called an “introvert hangover” because after a lot of social stimulation, whether in a small group or a noisy overstimulated context, an introvert’s nervous system gets overwhelmed.
An introvert hangover isn’t exactly a bad thing. For most, it means alone time curling up with a book or a film, or doing a relaxing hobby like drawing.
What Is Introvert Hangover?
Introvert hangovers are essentially side effects an introverted personality encounters as a result of too much socialization.
In other words, an introvert or social hangover is that drained, rundown, wrung out, foggy feeling you get after you’ve socialized too much.
It may also occur if you’ve been too overstimulated for a moderate or extended period of time.
Identify situations to avoid introvert hangover:
1. Plan To Have Alone Time
As introverts, we need time to recharge to be our optimal selves. It’s not selfish to plan and protect time that’s just for you.
Scheduling alone time on a regular basis will help keep your energy levels up. This means you’ll have more energy to give social events and high stimulation activities.
The more self care to keep your energy levels up, the less frequently and/or less likely you’ll be to suffer from a social hangover. Learn To Do More With Less.
2. Don’t Overbook Yourself
Despite what we may have been led to believe, we all have control over our own schedules. You don’t have to agree to go to every event or activity you’re invited to.
If you already have a family party on the calendar for Saturday afternoon, it might not be beneficial to add a night out with friends Saturday night.
Instead, ask your friends about going out a different day or a different weekend. This will leave you with a lot more energy and significantly fewer social hangovers.
3. Modify Events
When there are activities that we genuinely want or need to be at, consider modifying these events. You will get the most out of them without draining yourself in the process.
For example, if you are at a concert and paying to see the main act, you may be coming from work, consider going late to the concert and skipping the opening acts.
Sure, you’re not getting the full value of the ticket, but preserving your energy is in your best interest to fully enjoy what you’re actually paying to see.
Similarly, if you’ve got a busy weekend and it’s possible to go late or leave family reunions early, do it! Self care helps you put yourself first and get a quick recharge.
What Introverts Drain?
The introvert burnout feel of emotional exhaustion can be from lower amounts of dopamine.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that affects mental and physical health. It helps control certain functions by sending signals between the body and the brain.
Sometimes called the “feel-good hormone,” it’s associated with positive emotions like bliss, euphoria, and concentration.
Dopamine plays an important role in a range of body functions, like:
- Feeling pleasure — like eating your favorite foods or even during sex — your brain releases dopamine.
So what does this have to do with socializing?
Since extroverts have a more active dopamine system, they’re more excited by the possibility of a feel good reward. Dopamine actually reduces the cost of effort spent.
Introverts have dopamine, too, but it’s not as “turned up” as that of an extrovert. An introvert just isn’t as “hooked” on pursuing the things that an extrovert will chase.
Why Do I Feel Socially Burnt Out?
A form of extreme mental and physical exhaustion comes when introverts don’t have enough time to recharge after being overly stimulated from social interaction.
If you think about it, this actually makes a lot of sense – it’s not “just me”.
While an extrovert can approach an event objectively, an introvert has a lot more going on internally.
Here are examples an introvert has going on internally:
- They notice all sorts of details
- Are self-conscious about themselves
- Self-conscious of the mistakes they are making
- Draw a lot from their long-term memory bank when speaking
All of this is emotionally exhausting, so it’s no surprise they need to take some time to regroup afterwards.
Why Do Introverts Get Exhausted?
Extroverts tend to chase rewards — hard.
Whereas, introverts tend to turn inward.
An introvert will tend to research a topic simply for the joy of learning something new. Job-wise, they seek a calling that is more than just a paycheck.
They desire depth and intimacy in their relationships, a connection that is mind-to-mind and heart-to-heart, rather than an abundance of casual acquaintances.
Having a less active dopamine system also means that an introvert may find certain levels of stimulation — like loud noise and lots of activity — to be punishing, annoying, and tiring.
It explains why the introvert in the bar scenario is ready to escape after a short while.
Introverts are already over-stimulated mentally, they are mindful of their ever-draining mental batteries in certain situations.
Since many introverts spend a lot of time pretending to be more outgoing in a world that favors extraversion. This can take its toll, emotionally, mentally and physically.
So what causes introvert personality traits to meltdown? It varies from introvert to introvert but here are a few.
- An open-plan work environment with constant noise and distractions
- Unstructured meetings that are all talk and no decisions
- Enforced ‘fun’ at work and team-building activities
- Thinking aloud problem-solving processes
- Networking events and conferences
- Large family gatherings where the introvert is not understood
An aware introverted personality will be sure they’re sufficiently charged before engaging in these situations and will have their escape plans ready.
Introvert Burnout At Work
Introverts, as a personality trait, are the most focused and productive when they have a quiet workplace to isolate themselves from others in their work life in order to concentrate.
Introvert personality traits tend to prefer working on a project independently rather than on a team. At the same time, they usually dislike having to present information to others, especially if they’re not given adequate time to prepare.
Many entrepreneurs tend to have introvert personalities. Here are some Main Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Experience Daily Stress.
Employee burnout usually happens when they feel drained by work that requires a lot of interaction with many people during the day, constant meetings, or working in a noisy or busy work environment.
Avoid burnout by taking breaks for a short period of time on your own when you have the self awareness that you feel restless or feel anxious.
Introvert Burnout Symptoms
Introvert burnout is a state of mental and physical stress that is a result of overextending yourself.
For an introvert, burnout can occur due to too much social interactions without time to recharge. Burnout itself can lead to a cycle of stress without relief.
The stress-response cycle is a physiological response to perceived danger, causing our bodies to produce stress hormones.
Being unable to discharge the accumulation of hormones while persistently adding to our stress can also lead to burnout.
Signs of burnout can include:
- Emotional exhaustion
- Decreased performance
- Physical symptoms such as headaches
- Alienation from work related activities
We live in a noisy, overstimulated, fast-paced world. Conditions in which extraverts thrive, but for the roughly half of the population who are introverted, those same conditions are cause for dismay, if not worse.
If you’re feeling like your brain is scattered and finding it hard to concentrate, you’ve had overstimulation. Everyday tasks seem way more daunting because you’re already overwhelmed.
Everyday activities, like giving a presentation at work, or even going to the grocery store can be overstimulating for an introvert.
The reason is that we introverts process more information at a given time. We’re taking in so much that our brain gets overloaded and this can lead to burnout.
How To Avoid Introvert Burnout
There are no surprises here. The highest requirement to avoid introvert burnout is to get some calm, peaceful time alone. This may involve some slight lifestyle changes and some may wish to seek professional help.
1. Alone Time In The Midst Of A Crowd Or Event
If you feel overwhelmed in the middle of Aunt Maggie’s family dinner with a bunch of chattering (extrovert) family members accelerating the energy levels, practice self care.
- Start carrying some dishes back into the kitchen
- While there, perhaps stay for a few precious minutes and rinse the dishes
- Load them into the dishwasher
- Find a less noisy corner
- Have a quiet conversation with just one person there
- Go out to the veranda for “a breath of fresh air” (and quiet)
These are ways to escape from the profusion of noises in the dining room and also an opportunity to be alone (sort of) for a couple of minutes to deep-breathe and regenerate.
2. Work And Leisure Rhythms
Work is another issue where you can set boundaries and practice self care. You may not be able to do anything about all the scheduled meetings, but:
- Make sure you go outside at break times for fresh air and solitude
- Walk to the lunchroom to get another hot drink
- Once home, be serious about boosting your energy and mood
- Read a good book
- Quietly watch a favourite program
- Play a musical instrument
- Walks in nature
- Work with your natural energy cycles, hustling to get things done when energy is high, and using times of lower energy to restore yourself
3. Choose A Compatible Life
An introvert probably shouldn’t choose an occupation where they have to interact with people every minute of every day. That said, we don’t always have our ideal job, so:
- Satisfy the need for some alone/silent time while doing work tasks maybe a medium-term goal to pursue
- Larger social circles require more time to nurture them. To have a friend, is to be a friend, and that’s important. So balance time to nurture the friendships and still have sufficient alone time
- Even in intimate relationships, an introvert needs some time without the significant other around: like, really alone
If introvert burnout has you feeling you require personal support with professional help for your mental health don’t hesitate to contact a mental health professional.
Also, finding like minded people to be around can help as they will understand your requirement not to be around other people all the time.
Introvert Burnout Recovery
This point about guilt may be the most important of all. Introvert burnout recovery requires you to set boundaries and can hinge on one very important thing – recognise that your needs as an introvert are 100% valid.
Feeling guilty has no place in your recovery plan. It can only lead to higher stress levels and depression and anxiety issues.
A world where everyone acted as an extroverted “life and soul of the party” would be unfulfilling.
Now more than ever, our introverts of the world can help a noisy, too-fast, overwhelming world regain harmony through:
- Their willingness to listen more than speaking
- Being calm when other people are over-excited
- Acknowledging the validity of occasional solitude for everyone
An introvert doesn’t seek rewards to the same degree that extroverts do. Is this a bad thing? In my opinion, no. It’s actually the introvert’s superpower.
Final thoughts here, introverts and extroverts alike can carry the torch for this message by affirming the healthiness of the drive to be alone, and showing them ways to do it — with no apologies.
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