For introverts, being alone is like food, sleep, or any other type of replenishment — you can’t go too long without it.
There’s no doubt about it: Introverts love alone time. And it’s not just about relishing an evening alone — introverts need regular solitude to function. Alone time is when we quietly process life, enjoy unaccompanied activities (like reading), and recharge our batteries away from life.
For introverts, being alone is like food, sleep, or any other type of replenishment — we simply can’t go too long without it. The adverse effects start to show up in how we think, act, and move through life.
If you’re an introvert who’s been feeling extra tired, stressed, or “off” lately, think about the last time you had time — quality time — for yourself. You might need some peaceful isolation stat.
Here are some of the common signs it’s time to withdraw and recharge.
9 Signs You Need Some Alone Time as an Introvert
1. You feel really tired or extra anxious.
Since introverts get their energy from being alone, too much time around people is incredibly draining, and over time, it can take a tremendous toll. Social exhaustion might show up as severe fatigue, extreme anxiety, crying more often, or resentment.
When I’ve overextended myself and not carved out time for myself (alone), I get a lot of extra tightness in my neck and shoulders, my anxiety heightens, and I can’t relax until I’m by myself for an extended period. This is a sign I need to shut off the computer, sign out of social media, and have a weekend at home with yours truly.
Even if you’re not physically around people, it also counts if you’ve spent too much time at work, in your email inbox, or out and about. Any type of interaction with others can require a lot of energy. Alone time might be just what you need to reset.
2. Little things set you off, like someone asking you a simple question.
Irritable and feeling fed up with any little thing? Maybe you’re overextended and need a serious break.
As an introvert, when I haven’t spent enough time alone, I might accidentally snap at — or become short toward — a loved one for something harmless and straightforward, like asking me a question. Or I might get really frustrated, to the point of wanting to cry, about not finding a parking spot at my favorite coffee shop.
Often, it’s because I’m trying to process my day and my “people meter” is off the charts. A little (okay, a lot of) time to myself is usually the golden ticket to rejuvenate — and not come off as a jerk to those around me!
3. Even small to-dos feel like monumental tasks.
Most people need downtime to do something “meaningless,” but for introverts, it’s essential. If everything feels like a chore and you just can’t get things done, it’s probably a sign that you’ve been “on” for too long.
Take a break — alone! Veg out on the couch, read a good book, go on a Netflix binge, or do something else with no other purpose than to relax and enjoy.
4. You’re suddenly more clumsy or forgetful than usual.
Clumsiness can be a sign that there’s too much going on in your head. According to CalmClinic, clumsiness is more likely when your mind is distracted and overwhelmed. Clumsiness can be a symptom of anxiety, which can be more common in introverts vs. extroverts, because an anxious person is caught up in their own thoughts and worries.
If you’re forgetting to walk the dog, where you left your keys, or a critical work date — or dropping things and bumping into walls more often — it’s probably time for a break. Your body and mind are likely signaling that they need some rest. And how do introverts rest the best? Yep — by spending time alone.
5. You’re not excited about things you usually enjoy.
Are you having trouble feeling inspired at work or when it comes to your creative projects? Or maybe you love your friends dearly, but that upcoming lunch date has you feeling exhausted rather than anticipatory. These are all good signs that an introvert needs that crucial alone time.
When you’re mentally and emotionally drained, it’s common to lose interest in things you usually enjoy — especially when they are related to being social. At that point, the toll on your energy outweighs the joy you get from the fun activity.
Take some time to yourself. Once you’re refreshed, you’ll be ready to venture out again. (But if you still lack excitement about life after plenty of alone time, it could be something more, like depression. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a therapist for help.)
6. You spend extra time engaging in solitary activities.
Have you ever excused yourself from a group to go to the bathroom, then spent the whole time sitting quietly alone, scrolling on your phone, or just staring at the wall enjoying the lack of company? Are you nodding your head in understanding? You’re probably a fellow introvert. (In fact, both Oprah and Amy Schumer — also introverts! — have said they do this, too.)
If you find yourself making excuses just so you can be by yourself, it’s a sign you need actual, planned alone time — not just stolen moments here and there. (Besides, your bathroom at home is probably better than the one you’re hiding out in anyway.)
Join the introvert revolution. Subscribe to our newsletter and you’ll get one email, every Friday, of our best articles. Subscribe here.
7. The thought of canceling all your plans = instant relief.
“Introvert” does not mean we’re anti-people. However, introverts do require less time engaging in social activities to feel fulfilled. Even outgoing introverts who enjoy regular social connections will fail to thrive without routine alone time.
If you’re tempted to cancel plans or stay home instead of going to that party because you need some relief, listen to your body. You likely need alone time to recharge and give your social muscles a break.
Extroverted friends often struggle to understand that canceling plans is not a personal slight. If an introvert says “no” to an invite and spends that time at home by themselves, it’s a vital act of self-care, not that they don’t want to see you. They need solitude to stay healthy like you need socializing.
8. Everything is just too much and it feels like there’s no way out.
Burnout is very real for introverts, and it’s not pleasant. Lack of alone time can make an introvert feel panicked, depressed, and even hopeless. They might become sensitive to lights, loud noises, physical touch, and other stimuli. When everything is just too much, and it feels like there’s no way out, breakdowns are inevitable. The “introvert hangover” is no joke: You’re maxed out on social energy and desperately need to be alone.
Those around the introvert — and even the introvert themselves — might wonder what is going on. Remember that burnout happens when we haven’t gotten enough rest. And for introverts, that rest must include solitude.
9. You just wanna be alone.
While all of the above are valid reasons to be alone, it’s also okay to schedule alone time just because you want to. Just like you put that coffee with a friend onto your calendar, put in your alone time, too.
You don’t have to experience an introvert meltdown or emotional exhaustion before withdrawing from others for a while. Allowing yourself regular alone time is actually ideal. Just like eating nutritious foods, moving your body, and taking time to breathe, fitting in “you time” is excellent daily self-care that helps you avoid extreme situations.
So, while you don’t need permission from me (or anyone else), here’s your reminder to pencil in some alone time ASAP. You need and deserve it.
Want to get one-on-one help from a therapist?
We recommend BetterHelp. It’s private, affordable, and takes place in the comfort of your own home. Plus, you can talk to your therapist however you feel comfortable, whether through video, phone, or messaging. Introvert, Dear readers get 10% off their first month. Click here to learn more.
We receive compensation from BetterHelp when you use our referral link. We only recommend products when we believe in them.