The Introvert’s Survival Guide

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Introverts are those who get energy from spending time alone, those who ‘recharge’ with a good book, quiet time in nature, or solo activities like writing or drawing. On the other hand, extroverts crave time with other people, and a party or a concert makes them alive and zipping with energy.

Introverts are the opposite. Being in a large crowd or a humming social event can make them feel drained, empty, and disconnected. It’s called the ‘introvert hangover,’ and if you are an introvert, you likely know exactly what I am talking about! Shawna Courter, a blogger who discusses issues of introversion at Introvert, Dear writes: “An “introvert” hangover is, simply put, a withdrawal into oneself brought on by overstimulation.”

Introvert hangovers can be especially common this time of year with holiday parties and socializing at an all-time high. From parties at the office to your kid’s Christmas recital to meeting the in-laws, your social calendar might be bulging with activities…leaving you with an inescapable introvert hangover.

Sometimes the symptoms can be physical (your head might throb, your eyes might burn, or maybe your body feels numb or achy). Other times the symptoms are merely emotional—you might feel irritable, angry, depressed, or empty. Or, you might feel ‘buzzy,’ like your mind is going a mile a minute and you can’t stop your racing thoughts.

I believe that the hallmark of an introvert hangover is a disconnection from oneself. Introverts are generally very in tune with their inner worlds. They contemplate deeply and think carefully before speaking. Some introverts even move quietly. They never slam a door or shut a cabinet abruptly. Their movements are quite purposeful and they have a strong mind/body connection.

However, when they are in a busy party or a loud social gathering, they can’t ‘hear themselves think’ as the saying goes. They can’t control their space, either externally or internally. People jostle their elbows or bang their silverware. They crowd into close during conversations. They overwhelm the introvert with big emotions, long talks, and endless introductions and questions. For an introvert, it can be exhausting!

 

Luckily, there are ways to recover from an introvert hangover (and ways to prevent them entirely). Here are some of my tips:

  • Create a solitude chamber in your closet or other small, enclosed place. Have you ever noticed how kids love to build forts or burrow under the covers? It’s almost as though there is a part of them that wants to crawl back into the womb—the safe, dark, soundless space where they were safe, loved, and at one with the universe. I think adults have this similar need, we just have outgrown building forts (sadly!). Create your own little ‘womb’ in a dark, private, quiet area where you can enclose yourself for complete privacy. No phones allowed or other distractions. You could play some light, relaxing New-Age music but total silence would probably work best. Sit there after a party for 10-15 minutes and let the noise and stress just ooze off you.
  • Visualization can be a wonderful way to claim your mental space and get back into yourself. Picture your internal world being wiped clean after a party. For example, sit in your ‘womb,’ and visualize a cold, crisp, brilliant white snow. See how it sparkles and shimmers as it falls down the heavens. Feel the brisk air on your cheeks. Picture the snow falling around you and within you, cleansing you of any tension, fear, or doubt. Sit in that brilliant, clean, white snow. Find yourself again.
  • Mediate while at a party. No, really! If a party is getting overwhelming, excuse yourself. Go to the bathroom and run out to your car quickly. You can also go outside, weather permitting. Sit and close your eyes for 5 minutes while repeating a soothing mantra that is meaningful to you, a mantra that will help connect you back to your source. It might just be a simple greeting, like “Hello, Me.” Sounds silly, but greeting yourself can help you to reconnect and get back into your ‘home’ state. (Read more about home frequency here.)
  • Beware of drinking too much. Alcohol might soothe those feelings of anxiety, but only in the moment. It will drive you further away from your inner world and cause crushing feelings of despair and disconnect the following day. Stay aware and attune to the anxiety you are experiencing. What does it have to teach you? Where do you feel it in your body? Bring awareness to it. Notice it. Stay curious. Rather than thinking “Oh god, I am so nervous, I hate this!” try thinking, “My body is feeling nervous right now. My heart is racing. My palm is sweating. My belly hurts. Interesting. I am going to keep my eye on that. I am going to see if those symptoms go away or change.”
  • Celebrate your introversion. Let’s face it, we live in an extroverted society. Americans are known for being friendly, outgoing, and social. However, when an introvert tries to force themselves to live an extrovert’s lifestyle, it will only make their hangovers worse. Accept the fact that you are an introvert. Celebrate it. Find what is good about your introversion. Perhaps you are a great listener or someone who always gives sage advice. Find out what is wonderful about your introversion, and then live those qualities to a hilt! Okay, so maybe you’re not the ‘life of the party,’ but you might be the one who always remembers everyone’s birthday or offers kind words to someone going through a hard time. Trust me—there is something uniquely you about you that you owe to your introversion. So be grateful for that side of you and thank yourself for your introversion. Seriously—you can even do it out loud before a party, such as “I am so glad I am quiet and contemplative. I can’t wait to go share that side of myself with my friends and family.”
  • And remember, children can be introverts, too!) Parents tend to push children to socialize and “Go say ‘hi’!” or “Go give Auntie a kiss!” but this can have the exact impact that we desire. It can add to their anxiety and their feelings of disconnect and emotional chaos. As a result, they may act out or experience physical symptoms like stomachaches. You can use the above tips to help children recover from introvert hangovers as well. Children can benefit gratefully from meditation and yoga, and there are so many poses that are perfect for kids (hey, they don’t call it child’s pose for nothing!). Simply laying quietly and breathing deeply for a few breaths will be invaluable. Watch this Yoga for Kids video together:

    You should also make sure that they have plenty of physical play so that they can burn off that adrenaline. Play in the snow or have an importunu game of tag in the backyard. Get them moving. Help them get back inside of their bodies and re-inhabit their internal world.

    And, remember, quiet time is crucial. Create a “womb” in your child’s room with a small tent or playhouse. Decorate with pillows, stuffed animals, books and even twinkling lights or night lights. Make it a space for solitude and quiet play. Encourage your child to spend time in there after a party or whenever their holidays are getting too hectic. A new book from the library could be just the thing to get them to lie down and relax.

    How do you recover from an introvert hangover? Have you ever experienced this phenomenon?