How To Be Social as an Introvert While Avoiding Exhaustion

IIf you are an introvert, you may often find yourself in a little social conundrum. On the one hand, ample social time probably saps your energy and you want nothing more than to curl up on the couch or go for a walk alone or really do everything by yourself. But on the other hand, this summer has been ripe for social occasions as the warm weather has allowed for many activities and events such as concerts and weddings, which are returning in full force. Chances are you’ll at least want to attend some Degrees, after periods of isolation – but you don’t want to risk full social exhaustion either. Luckily, it’s possible to do both as an introvert with some forward planning and tactics in the moment.

Though the pent-up demand for socializing feels more intense than ever, perhaps the only benefit of the more than two years of the pandemic (for introverts, at least) is the normalization of time alone, says clinical psychologist Laurie Helgoe, PhD, author of Introverted Power.

“One of the bright spots of the pandemic is discovering how many of us actually enjoy working from home, connecting remotely and wearing comfortable clothes,” says Dr. Helgoe. “Memes and skits celebrating these indulgences should reassure every introvert that our lifestyle preferences share a common language.” Even as you re-enter the social sphere as an introvert, you can take comfort in the fact that the people around you Likely to understand or even fully relate to your enjoyment of alone time or your desire to take breaks from crowded environments.

Just knowing that this can help you feel less drained from social gatherings and more comfortable turning down invitations or dropping out early when you’ve reached your social limit. At the same time, it’s also possible to plan your calendar and engage with others in a way that minimizes your risk of social burnout from the start. Below is advice from psychologists on how to re-enter the world as an introvert without experiencing total social exhaustion.

5 tips from psychologists to avoid social exhaustion as an introvert

1. Be honest with friends and family about how you feel

Letting people know head-on that spending a lot of social time can be exhausting for you, or that it takes a lot of energy to engage in a social outing can take a tremendous amount of weight off the experience. “Just be honest,” says Dr. Helgoe. “To friends, you could say something like, ‘It was so hard leaving my dog ​​and my couch tonight. You all make it better worth it!’ or when meeting someone new, bring up a topic that reflects your introversion, such as B. Asking about her favorite pandemic binge show.

“Now is the time to move away from ‘introverted assumption’ and assume that people at least understand, if not identify, introverted preferences.” – Laurie Helgoe, PhD, clinical psychologist

Honesty might also help you find a source of connection with others that makes the conversation less taxing. “In my book, Introverted Power, I urge introverts to stop living by the “extroverted assumption,” or the assumption that all people prefer extroversion,” says Dr. Helgoe. “Now is the time to move away from ‘introverted assumption’ and assume that people at least understand, if not identify, introverted preferences.”

If this feels uncomfortable, Dr. Helgoe suggests first writing down your honest thoughts about socializing in a journal. “This can help you feel more comfortable with your reality, see humor and insight in it, and find your sense of self more shareable,” she says.

2. Plan specific social and non-social days

It might seem counterintuitive at first, but according to Dr. Helgoe, grouping social outings or gatherings together on specific days can actually help mitigate social exhaustion in introverts.

“That way, you can give yourself full days of no preparation, or days that free you from the mental energy and work of preparing to spend time with other people,” she says. On those days off between Social Days, you might still meet up with a close friend or family member (whom you don’t need to mentally prepare to spend time with), but you wouldn’t plan anything that requires you to actually choose one Outfit or get ready.

Instead, make sure you use that downtime for recreational or recreational activities like playing with a pet, reading, or watching TV — all of which can help recharge your social battery, says clinical psychologist Aimee Daramus, PsyD. “Make sure to listen to your mind and body to see what works for you and what doesn’t. It’s possible that a certain series or novel is more relaxing than another.”

3. On Social Days, leave gaps between events to recharge

While it can be a smart move to group social outings on specific days, avoid stacking them instantly Back-to-back, if necessary Leave at least 30 minutes between social engagements instead.

“If you can create a large enough gap between get-togethers, try scheduling a solo date, like a quiet walk or browsing a bookstore, to give yourself the time you need to think and process,” says Dr. Helgoe. “Charges like this can strengthen your social connections and give you more authentic material — like an opinion on a book or a neighborhood, or just the smart thoughts that come to mind when you’re thinking — that you can later share with friends.”

4. Align social activities with your values ​​or interests

For introverts, every social activity involves a bit of social drain, but the effect will be significantly less if the activity reflects one of your core values, says Dr. Helgoe. “For example, if you value a close friendship or partnership and your presence at a particular event would mean a lot to that person, it may be worth attending, even if the event itself would normally be downright exhausting.”

The same goes for any event that involves a personal interest — like a fundraiser for a cause you care deeply about, a trip to the cinema if you’re interested in film, or a sports game for a team you love. “Play according to your interests,” says Dr. daramus “Pick events that you know you can look forward to.” In the same space, she suggests prioritizing low-key events whenever possible, like a spa trip or movie night, that don’t require a lot of social energy anyway. This way, you can ensure you’re still participating in low-buoyancy social outings and meeting up with friends and loved ones as an introvert, while also minimizing the risk of social exhaustion.

Should an event occur that doesn’t fit within the above parameters, saying “no” can make you feel better, says Dr. Helgoe. “A warning sign of this would be some sense of ‘willful resentment,’ or feeling like you know you’re going to be upset after participating,” she says. “In this case, a denial may be the more effective response for everyone involved.”

5. Find a sense of privacy and calm around others

Sometimes you might find that despite all the prioritization and scheduling, you still end up at a grueling event with no easy exit. In this situation, it can be helpful to use a breathing technique to reset and recharge even when surrounded by other people, says clinical psychologist Chloe Carmichael, PhD, author of Nervous Energy: Harness the power of your fear.

She suggests what she calls a cocoon breath to practice alone first. “Take a deep breath, and if you’re alone, close your eyelids as you exhale,” she says. “On the next exhale, imagine your eyelids closing again, and on the next exhale, imagine your shoulders falling. After that, with each exhale, imagine a part of your body relaxing and imagine yourself pulling a curtain around you, creating a cocoon. Then take a few deep breaths and open your eyes.”

Minus the eyes-closed part, you can do the exact same breathing exercise while you’re with others in a crowd or other high-social environment, she says. “By having practiced the exercise in its full form in private, you may be able to activate that same sense of privacy and relaxation with your eyes open.”

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