What is Social Fatigue?
Social fatigue, sometimes referred to as introvert burnout, means something different for everyone. Because we all have distinct personalities and behaviors, social burnout can appear in a variety of ways. Typically, social fatigue occurs when a person has socialized to the point of being unable to socialize anymore. It can happen to anyone (and to be clear, social fatigue was common before we’d ever heard of COVID-19). However, introverts are more likely to experience social exhaustion.
We’ve been seeing signs of introvert exhaustion a lot this past year. To begin with, we haven't seen much of our friends and relatives, and without our support networks, we've confronted life’s problems alone. Second, we’ve had very little in-person or face-to-face contact with anyone and because we've accustomed to a peaceful, isolated existence, our socializing abilities are diminishing faster than normal. Lastly, although many parts of the world are lessening lockdown restrictions, we’re still carrying the fear of catching or spreading the coronavirus when we’re in public. And with people scrambling for any form of human contact after isolation, we are now having more in-person interaction and meeting more people — which ultimately leads to more anxiety. This sudden influx of human interaction is causing us to over-fill our social cups and resulting in social fatigue. While extroverts may be feeling delighted at the possibility of dinner parties and crowded restaurants again, it usually leaves an introvert drained. So keep in mind that if you’re an introvert, emotional exhaustion is more likely to happen to you.
What are the Symptoms of Introvert Burnout?
Physical tiredness, irritation, and tension are some of the symptoms of social fatigue. Feeling unable to connect with people, focusing on problems, headaches, insomnia, emotional instability, and low energy levels are all indicators of social weariness. If social exhaustion is not addressed, it can lead to depression and anxiety in the long run.
It can be difficult to recognize signs of anxiety in social situations, whether in yourself or others. Here are nine indicators that you’re experiencing social fatigue:
- You’re easily irritated. Minor annoyances can fully frazzle someone when they have social weariness. You might be mildly irritated if you’ve misplaced your keys, or perhaps you have a full-fledged breakdown due to social exhaustion, replete with tears, sharp cynicism, accusations, and yelling. In the case of even the most loving couple, conflicts, arguing, bickering, nagging, and screaming can ensue when one of them is socially fatigued.
- You’re having trouble making decisions. We might notice someone is experiencing social fatigue if they’re having problems making even the most basic decisions. And when it comes to serious concerns, you may find yourself exasperated as you go over the options again and again in your mind. You’re likely hunting for that one piece of knowledge that will lead you down the right route, but your mind can't seem to find it due to complete and utter exhaustion, making everything appear to happen in slow motion. You may find it difficult to recollect the specifics of events you should be familiar with.
- Your tone of voice shifts. One of the most common introvert burnout symptoms is that they can start talking more slowly and with longer gaps between words. You may use terms that are similar to what you meant to say, but aren't accurate or don’t make sense. Perhaps you’re finding it difficult to express yourself and may even muddle words, mispronounce them, or slur them.
- You have a physical ailment. Introverts have reported headaches, muscle pain, dizziness, and upset stomachs in extreme circumstances. However, social fatigue can present itself in numerous ways, as each person will respond differently. For instance, people suffering from social fatigue may appear tired and sluggish or completely devoid of energy.
- You’ve lost track of time. A common side effect of people suffering from social exhaustion is simply not being able to focus on what's going on around them. Someone may be speaking to you, but you aren't paying attention to what they are saying — not because you don’t want to, but because you simply can’t focus. It’s common to feel like your thoughts are slipping away when experiencing social fatigue.
- You’re experiencing anxiety. Social exhaustion exacerbates social anxiety, particularly for those who are exceptionally introverted. You’re likely to feel more apprehensive or panicked in social situations and are often concerned that you will be judged harshly or say something inappropriate. A common sign of introvert burnout is feeling a strong urge to leave the social gathering and preferring to isolate completely for prolonged periods of time.
- You’re feeling depressed. When introverts are weary due to social fatigue, they may slide into pessimistic thought patterns. Perhaps you’ve become highly hostile and cynical as of late, or you’ve started falling into destructive patterns of dwelling on (and perhaps even replaying in your mind) embarrassing moments or mistakes you’ve made.
- You’re not acting like yourself. Chances are other folks are aware that something is wrong because, well, you don’t seem like you. Perhaps you’re not as happy or friendly as usual, or you just can't keep up with polite conversation anymore. Many times, it comes to a point in which you’ve exhausted your entire repertoire of small talk and opt for silence instead. If you or someone you know is acting strange or pulling away, chances are the culprit is social fatigue.
- You need to be alone. When someone is socially exhausted, all they want to do is be alone because they’re simply tired of dealing with people. They want to stay in their PJs and read a book or watch a soothing, familiar sitcom. A person dealing with social fatigue will often disappear from social circles for days on end and may not even respond to text messages or phone calls.
How to Prevent Social Exhaustion
With the pandemic taking over our lives, it’s never been more crucial for us to be familiar with strategies and tactics to prevent social fatigue. Here are four ideas for maintaining normalcy without becoming weary:
- Determine your primary triggers: What motivates you may not motivate someone else. Take some time to think about what events and individuals make you feel fatigued. Once you’ve discovered your triggers, explore why they have such an effect on you.
- Pace yourself: If you're one of the many who isn't rushing back to the bar, calling your hairdresser to secure an appointment, or eager to return to crowded shopping malls, that's fine. If you are, take advantage of it. It doesn't matter what everyone else is doing as long as you're comfortable and content with your own pace.
- Set limits for yourself: Be assertive with yourself and others about your boundaries. It can be difficult to do, and you may risk upsetting some people. Still, you've spent the last year dealing with a pandemic, so take it easy on yourself, hang out with your friends when you want and politely decline when you don’t. You can always reschedule or suggest a different activity that everyone will feel comfortable with. Don't go because someone told you "it'll be fantastic" or "you'll be OK once you get there" — you don't need to push yourself for the sake of others.
- Create a new routine: In addition to anxiety about the coronavirus itself, we're concerned about the return to normalcy because we don't know what it comprises or how to manage it once we get there. As a result, make it your own and reclaim control over your social life. If it means spending more time at home or taking up a new outdoor sport for the summer, do what makes you happy and prioritize your mental health.
Tips on Dealing With Introvert Exhaustion
While it may not seem like it in the moment, it is entirely possible to recover from social fatigue. Try these exercises to help you reclaim your social energy and get back on track:
- Accept your introversion. Introversion isn't a bad trait, despite what social media trends may say. Learning to accept yourself as you are will help you gain confidence, which encourages personal growth and
allows you to honor your own needs. Unfortunately, we live in a world where
extroversion is favored. Just remember that the world wouldn’t function without both
introverts and extroverts. Be proud of who you are. Introverts are good listeners who
place a high priority on developing strong bonds.
- Take up a solo activity. Doing things on your own will build the confidence you’re lacking by showing how
independent you can really be and that you can handle yourself. Solo activities allow you
to be near strangers without having to interact with them, which can give you the
opportunity to recharge as an introvert without opting for complete isolation. Here are a
few popular solitary activities that you can try: running, hiking, visiting a museum, reading in the park, cycling, or gardening.
- Talk to someone empathetic. When socializing is what causes burnout, it may seem counterintuitive to talk to others.
However, talking to a spouse, family, friend, or therapist about social fatigue can be
therapeutic. Find someone who will listen attentively without being distracted or voicing
an opinion. Sometimes social fatigue is the result of socializing with certain people, and
spending time with loved ones in a pleasant and comfortable setting may be rejuvenating
and exactly what you needed.
- Consider meditating. For centuries, practicing mindfulness has helped with centering oneself, and it’s often
stated that transcendental meditation can help with anxiety. Listening to soothing music,
going for a walk in the woods, or deep breathing can all help you relax and release stress.
- Take steps toward self-care. Self-care may mean different things to different people. Pay attention to your needs and
do what feels right to you. Self-care activities include baking, cooking, listening to music,
dancing, and exercising. There’s no wrong answer here; anything that relieves your weariness and reduces your stress levels is beneficial.
- Take some time to re-energize. Trying to cram everything into your schedule will only make you feel even more
exhausted. Choose quality above quantity — you don't have to agree to everything, but
you should commit to the things (and people) most important to you. However, it's best
to keep in mind that total isolation isn't healthy for anybody. Even if you don't require as
much engagement as extroverts, interactions are still healthy.
- Practice keeping a journal. Try writing down your feelings. One study revealed that writing in a journal for one
month reduced depressive symptoms and anxiety. Another strategy for recognizing
patterns that provoke unpleasant feelings in your social life is to keep a journal. Return to
your notebook and go over the pages from time to time to identify those triggers and
begin devising tactics to prevent them from impacting you in the future.
- Seek expert assistance. Consider seeking professional help if your social exhaustion isn't improving (or is
becoming worse). Professional coaching can assist in "lifting the cloud," helping to clear
your mind and encouraging wellness.
Invigorate Your Team Today
While many of us have recently experienced some form of social fatigue, we all have the ability to
regulate our reactions to certain experiences. However, with the return of many professionals to
office settings, it’s important to consider that social fatigue is a real risk in your workplace now.
This is where LeggUp can help. We provide professional coaching to help employees maintain a
positive attitude and cope with the daily stresses that make us human. Because our minds and
bodies are inextricably linked, we take a comprehensive approach to self-development that
focuses on twelve aspects of productivity and well-being. With our mental health platform, we
can ensure your people feel well, work well, and live well. We teach our users to invest in better
behaviors, which benefits both our professional and personal lives. Contact LeggUp to create a support system for your employees and start building a happy healthy workforce today.
The world has never moved faster than it does today, and modern life requires that we're always on the go. Or at least we were before the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing and lockdowns have had an immense impact on mental health, with 40% of Americans reporting anxiety, depression and stress due to the pandemic. Now that things are starting to look up, we’re seeing the effect of prolonged isolation reflected in the rise of social anxiety. With a hectic world in a perpetual state of uncertainty surrounding us, it’s no surprise that social fatigue is increasing. And it’s not just that we’re out of practice; we may feel tired, dull, and irritable as a result of being socially exhausted. If you’re starting to feel like you or a loved one is struggling socially, here's how to recognize and prevent social fatigue.