After too much time cooped up with too many people, your head starts to buzz, your brain sort of hurts (or appears to stop working entirely), your heart pounds, maybe your palms sweat. Are you having a panic attack? Have you had a few too many cocktails?
Nope, according to IntrovertDear's Shawna Courter, you just might be suffering an 'introvert hangover.'
In the reassuring post, Courter describes her own experiences with the unpleasant aftereffects of too much socializing, recalling a family reunion that left her hiding, mute in a darkened room. If you're an introvert, you'll recognize the feeling she's describing instantly, but she offers this helpful explanation of the condition in case you need help explaining it to the extroverts in your life:
Introverts have a more limited ration of energy available for socializing, compared to our more extroverted counterparts. When we push past those reserves, we hit a tipping point where we go from being "fine" to "definitely not okay." An "introvert" hangover is, simply put, a withdrawal into oneself brought on by overstimulation.
What's the cure?
If you experience these symptoms, should you rush out to buy Gatorade and Tylenol? Nope, traditional hangover remedies will do you no good. The only cure is to get yourself some solitude, Courter explains.But depending on exactly how overwhelming your recent social experience has been (and the extent of your own introvert tendencies), you might need quite a lot of it.
Reacting to Courter's piece for the blog Science of Us, Jesse Singal comes out as a fellow introvert hangover sufferer and shares his own recollections of frantically trying to avoid close friends and new acquaintances without offending them. He points out that some commenters on Courter's piece need an entire day of recovery time.
"I might need a whole day to myself to recharge after a party, and really feel like I was hung over: headache, nausea, fatigue, the whole shebang," says one, while another writes: "I often need the next day to recover which is why I try really hard to never schedule two days of socializing back to back."
How to socialize safely
How can you avoid the dread 'introvert hangover'? Just like with alcohol, enjoying responsibly and in moderation is probably key. Know your own tolerance and pace yourself appropriately. Building a little alone time into your schedule before upcoming events might help too.
But with social stimulation, unlike cocktails, you can't actually always control how much you take in if a party invitee decides to bring along six noisy friends, for instance, or you're car-pooling with someone with a much greater appetite for crowds than you. (I've found that carpooling is generally a terrible idea for introverts.) Courter and Sengal don't seem to have a solution to offer for these cases -- and neither do I -- but at least now you have a term for how they make you feel.
Have you ever experienced an introvert hangover? What was it like?