12 Signs You Have an Introvert Hangover

An introvert hangover can leave you feeling physically and mentally exhausted, making you just want to be alone in a quiet place.

Does this sound familiar?

You’ve spent the whole day with your friends or family. You’ve had a great time eating, playing games, and catching up. But now, you’re so exhausted you can barely see straight, while everyone else seems as energetic as ever. In fact, they’re already setting up the next game as you’re wondering how you can slip out the door.

The next day, after the event is over, is no better. You might have a headache, and your body may feel sore and drained, almost like the onset of the flu. You’re tired — so very tired.

If this resonates with you, you might be experiencing something we call an “introvert hangover.”

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What Is the Introvert Hangover?

Introvert, Dear writer Shawna Courter coined the term “introvert hangover” in this article to describe the exhaustion she felt after celebrating Christmas with her in-laws. She writes:

“An introvert hangover is a pretty terrible thing to experience. It starts with an actual physical reaction to overstimulation. Your ears might ring, your eyes start to blur, and you feel like you’re going to hyperventilate. Maybe your palms sweat. And then your mind feels like it kind of shuts down, building barriers around itself as if you had been driving on a wide open road, and now you’re suddenly driving in a narrow tunnel. All you want is to be at home, alone, where it’s quiet.”

Yes, the introvert hangover is real. It’s a funny term that describes the serious social burnout many introverts experience, marked by significant mental and physical fatigue.

Here are 12 signs that you might have an introvert hangover, which I discuss in more detail in my book, The Secret Lives of Introverts. You don’t need to experience all these symptoms to have one, and your symptoms might vary.

Signs of an Introvert Hangover

1. Every little thing gets on your nerves.

When you have an introvert hangover, even small annoyances can overwhelm you. Normally, you might brush off a sarcastic comment from your partner or stay calm when you misplace your keys — but not in this state. An introvert hangover can make it feel as though your head is so full it might burst, leaving no room for even the smallest extra bit of information. Because you’re so tired, you may find it hard to control your emotions.

2. You struggle to make decisions.

Even small decisions become difficult. Paper or plastic? Pumpkin pie or cherry? Normally, these choices wouldn’t be hard, but when you have an introvert hangover, your brain is so tired that it doesn’t function properly. For bigger issues, you might find yourself obsessively thinking about the situation to the point of frustration. You’re searching for that one piece of information that will show the right way forward, but because you’re so exhausted, your mind can’t focus enough to find it.

3. You can’t think clearly.

Similar to the previous point, you’re so tired that it feels like your mind is processing everything in slow motion. You might struggle to recall details of things you should easily know, like your daily schedule, where you left your phone, or even common passwords.

4. Your speech changes.

You might speak slower, with unusually long pauses between your words. Sometimes, you might use words that are close to what you mean but not quite right — for instance, “dessert” becomes “candy” and “where’s my coat” becomes just a vague gesture. You might even seem a bit intoxicated, even if you haven’t had much or any alcohol. You might slur your words together, mispronounce them, or both.

5. You feel physically unwell.

Some introverts report experiencing headaches, muscle aches, upset stomachs, or other physical symptoms.

6. You’re tired.

Like, really tired. It feels like you’ve just finished an intense workout at the gym. If someone offered you a quiet spot to nap, you’d accept it immediately. After the social event, you find yourself collapsing on the couch, skipping your usual evening routine, or heading straight to bed.

Do you ever struggle to know what to say?

As an introvert, you actually have the ability to be an amazing conversationalist — even if you’re quiet and hate small talk. To learn how, we recommend this online course from our partner Michaela Chung. Click here to check out the Introvert Conversation Genius course.

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7. You’re zoning out.

You find it hard to focus. Someone might be speaking, but you’re not absorbing their words. Your expression may appear blank, sad, or even angry, but you’re not necessarily upset. Your mind is simply wandering, perhaps lost in thought or daydreaming.

8. You feel anxious.

For some, an introvert hangover can intensify their anxiety. In social situations, they might feel particularly nervous, worried about how others perceive them and concerned they might say or do the wrong thing. They may also find themselves overthinking a particular decision, unable to escape an anxious thought spiral due to their fatigue.

9. You feel depressed.

An introvert hangover can also trigger feelings of depression. You might find yourself overwhelmed by pessimism and cynicism, questioning past decisions, and experiencing dark thoughts. Everything in life may seem bleak or not okay.

10. You’re not acting like yourself.

You might be quieter or not as cheerful as usual. Something seems off, and those close to you are likely to pick up on it.

11. You can’t handle small talk anymore.

When you’re experiencing an introvert hangover at a social event, you might find it hard to keep up with conversations. You’ve run out of small talk. Your mind is just too tired to think of anything polite or interesting to say.

12. You have an intense desire to be alone.

When you’re dealing with an introvert hangover, all you crave is solitude. Whether it’s sneaking off to the bathroom during a social gathering or cozying up in your pajamas afterward, you just need some time for yourself. For introverts, there’s nothing quite like the comfort of being alone after a hectic day or social gathering.

What Causes an Introvert Hangover?

Research shows that everyone eventually gets tired from socializing, including extroverts. Socializing requires energy, and after a while, everyone reaches their limit. However, introverts experience social burnout more quickly and intensely.

Why is this the case? Introverts are generally more sensitive to noise and other forms of stimulation compared to extroverts. Their dopamine systems are less active, meaning that an overload of dopamine — the “feel good” neurotransmitter — can leave them feeling tired and overstimulated. In contrast, extroverts often feel energized by the same levels of dopamine, which can help them push past social fatigue.

To learn more about why introverts need time alone and why they get easily drained from socializing, click here.

The Cure for an Introvert Hangover

The best way to recover from an introvert hangover is to spend time alone in a peaceful, quiet environment. Do your favorite self-care activities or hobbies — anything that helps uplift your mood and energy. For introverts, solitude is as essential as food and water.

If you can’t be completely alone, look for small ways to take a break. You could listen to soothing music with headphones, go for a walk, or find a quiet corner to read. Even short breaks can make a difference.

As introverts, we might feel pressured to fit into a society that often values extroverted behavior. You might worry that prioritizing your needs could inconvenience others or hurt their feelings. This pressure can lead you to hide or deny what you really need, causing more stress.

Remember that your needs as an introvert are valid. It’s perfectly okay to leave a party early or to spend time alone. Your needs are real and deserve respect.

My book, THE SECRET LIVES OF INTROVERTS, has been called an introvert guide and manifesto for all the quiet ones — and the people who love them. Bestselling author Susan Cain said it “brings to life the experiences every introvert shares and helps us embrace our quiet nature in a very loud world.” Click here to buy it on Amazon. 

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