Thursday, August 6, 2015

3 Tips for Surviving a Social Hangover

Last Sunday, I woke up feeling lethargic, dehydrated, mentally foggy, and generally as if I had been hit by a truck.  I felt...hungover. 

Thing is, I didn't drink a single drop of alcohol the day before.

Nope, I wasn't coming down with anything either, no 24 hour bug, no virus, nada.  I wasn't alarmed though, for I knew and had even anticipated the condition I awoke to find myself in.  I was suffering from a state that I and many others introverts have come to call a "social hangover."  

If you are an extrovert, by now you are probably saying, "A what?"  Extroverts typically do not understand this condition, but most introverts will understand exactly what I am describing.

A social hangover is the exhaustion that an introvert experiences after being around a lot of people in social situations such as parties or conferences.  The day before I experienced my social hangover, I attended a family reunion where there were at least 40 in attendance (some I knew but hadn't seen in years and several whom I've never met before).  Later that same day, I caught the tail end of my half-sister's grandmother's (no relation to me) 94th birthday party and interacted with people that I haven't seen since I was a teenager.  Both situations required some "small talk," which I truly despise.
Don't get me wrong, I had a great time.  I reconnected with some people that I haven't seen in ages and met some new ones, too.  I laughed and had some great conversations.  I do not regret attending either function. But all that small talking, mingling, socializing, and channeling of my inner extrovert for 6-8 hours just wore me out.  I was utterly exhausted.

The general population often misunderstands what it means to be introverted. The biggest misconception is that introversion equals shyness.  Trust me, that is not the case.  The biggest difference between extroverts and introverts has to do with with energy.  Whereas extroverts feel invigorated and become energized through a social events, introverts typically feel depleted because introverts gather energy through quiet, often contemplative, and solitary acts.  (Below is a handy little chart that I like to use when explaining the difference between introverts and extroverts.  It also includes information on people who are truly shy and those who are simply obnoxious.)

As a seasoned introvert, here are 3 things that I have put into practice over the years that help me deal with a social hangover:

1)  Mentally prepare.  A few days before the big social event, I start to "psych" myself up.  I envision the situation and imagine myself engaging in small talk (something I hate, but that is often necessary in social situations) and interacting with others when I would really prefer to hang along the perimeter and quietly observe.  This strategy may seem silly, but there really is something to the whole "see it, achieve it" thing.

2) Schedule and prioritize time to rest and recuperate afterwards.  Knowing that I would be completely zapped, I had made no plans for the day after the reunion.   I engaged in quiet activities throughout the day (watched a little TV, read a book, took a nap) and kept my talking to a minimum.
Be still.  Be quiet.  Just be.

3) Hydrate.  What seems like a simple little solution can actually have a big impact on how you feel.  I've never been a big fan of plain water, but I always make it a point to drink more than I usually do when I'm suffering from a social hangover.  I have no scientific evidence to back up my belief, but I just think it's common sense.  I've always been told to drink water and take 2 Advil after a night of drinking to lessen the effects of the alcohol the morning after, haven't you?  I know that whenever I've been sick, everyone and their brother, family and healthcare professionals alike, advise me to "push fluids."  After EVERY massage that I've had in my life (dozens), the massage therapist instructed me to drink lots of water afterwards in order to flush the toxins from my body.  The way I look at it, if water is such a vital component in the aftercare of those things, then common sense dictates that it is beneficial when suffering from a social hangover, too.

How about you?  Do you suffer from social hangovers?  Do you have any tips that help lessen the effects on you?  Please feel free to share.

Thanks for stopping by!

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