The most annoying aspect of being an introvert is how quickly we fall victim to social burnout. Simply surviving a party often requires a reading break or at least two weekend days spent recovering from the ordeal with a binge-watching marathon of literally anything on Netflix and zero human interaction. But that’s just introverts—and introverts, friends, aren’t the only people who experience social stress, a Thrive Global piece recently pointed out. In fact, ambiverts and even extroverts can end up drained as a result of human interaction.
That said, if you’re a classic introvert, you likely already know how to heal yourself from the effects of social burnout. (Take breaks, take breaks, take breaks!) And you’ve no doubt developed a whole self-care routine for handling the unique stress of group dinners. But if one of the more outgoing personality types best describes you, how do you identify your social stress and, more importantly, recover from it?
Below, a mental-health expert breaks down the experience of social stress (and strategies for mitigating it) for all the extroverts and ambiverts out there.
How extroverts feel after socializing
With extroverts, the issue with over-socializing isn’t that you have trouble with and anxiety about talking with others. On the contrary, you actually love talking—talking is your favorite! The problem is, rather, that others are so familiar with your reputation that you sometimes feel locked into the social-butterfly-friend role.
“Extroverts don’t usually get tired from socializing the way introverts do, but from the sense that their life is about pleasing everybody else and being who others need them to be.” —psychologist Aimee Daramus, PsyD
“Since their energy is usually directed toward people, they don’t usually get tired out from socializing itself the way introverts do, but from the sense that their life is about pleasing everybody else and being who others need them to be,” says clinical psychologist Aimee Daramus, PsyD. “Life can start to feel like one big performance, and extroverts might need to remember to ask themselves what they need from any social interaction and stick to it.”
So let’s say you’re an extrovert, want to go out for a fun night, but just truly cannot with anything intense. Try to steer clear of drama, in this case. Dr. Daramus suggests letting your friends know you’re exhausted and are looking forward to a fun yet relaxed time. Basically, in order to tone down your intrinsic need to perform, surround yourself with people around whom you can be yourself. Take note of those on your side and prioritize them.
How ambiverts experience social stress
For those oft-forgotten ambiverts, the problem tends to be confusion about which social hat is most appropriate for a given situation. Your solution? Taking a critical eye to situations that leave you energized versus those that leave you drained.
“If you find that you’re going into something with a negative attitude, honor it by sitting back and listening to what’s wrong and what you need,” Dr. Daramus says. “Learn to tell the difference between what you want and what you think you should want.”
Let’s say you’re going to a networking lunch that’ll offer great opportunities, big-name connections, and plenty of reasons to make contacts. But, for whatever reason, you’re not feeling amazing about it. Take a hot second to analyze why this may be. “Knowing the difference between what you want and what you should want can be the hardest part,” she continues. “It’s easy to say that you should be going out and having fun because it’s the weekend, and of course, fun people go out. You might need alone time, though.”
Essentially, extrovert and ambiverts would be wise to take a note from a reality with which introverts are already in tune: It’s key to be true to yourself, take time to regroup, and put your own needs over those of others.
Trying to date as an introvert? Here are several tips for succeeding (without the whole ordeal feeling like slow torture). And no matter how you identify your personality, here’s the best way to connect with other people.