7 Warning Signs You’re Experiencing Introvert Burnout or Exhaustion

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Whether you’re an introvert, extravert, or somewhere in between, the way you go about your daily activities depends on a finite amount of mental and physical energy. 

However, when it comes to spending and recharging their batteries, introverts and extroverts function quite differently. 

Take social interactions, for example.

While extroverts thrive around other people, introverts spend a considerable amount of energy to navigate group interactions successfully. 

For them, living in an overly extroverted culture can sometimes feel overwhelming. 

In the absence of proper self-care routines, introvert burnout can become a serious problem.

Allow me to share some of the challenges that I, as an introvert, often encounter and how I usually keep myself from reaching exhaustion.  

What is Introvert Burnout?

If you’re an introvert, you probably know what it’s like to experience an ‘introvert hangover.’ 

If not, imagine the following.

You’ve just arrived home from a workshop where you had to interact with people you barely knew. 

Your body feels weak and sore even though you haven’t done any physical activity; your head feels like it’s about to explode; you have this unpleasant pressure behind your eyes. 

Even the clothes you wear feel somewhat uncomfortable, so all you want to do is undress, get into bed, and enjoy some ‘peace and quiet.’ 

If God forbid, you don’t get a chance to power down for a couple of hours; things could get a lot worse.

Your attention span begins to decline; you struggle with even the most insignificant decisions, and you wish everyone would forget about your existence for a moment.   

There are days when you feel so overstimulated that you just want to crawl into a hole and never see a human being again.

That’s how introvert burnout feels like.

We don’t hate people or wish to live in solitude for the rest of our lives.

We know how to build relationships, and we invest a lot in those we love and care about.

It’s just that we need our alone time to recharge and reconnect with ourselves to be mentally and emotionally available for others.  

Otherwise, we risk burning out.  

Stress and the Introvert Brain 

In essence, extroversion-introversion is a heritable and relatively stable personality trait that determines how your brain works.

If you’re not sure where you stand in terms of extroversion-introversion, check out this free test.

While extroverts need constant social interaction to compensate for cortical under-stimulation, introverts need to ‘power down’ and take occasional breaks from social life to prevent overstimulation. [1]   

This is the fundamental difference between introverts and extroverts.

Although no one knows precisely why the human brain has evolved in such a way that some of us are introverts while others are extroverts, we do have a good understanding of the relationship between our personality traits and everyday behaviors. 

For example, one study revealed that after 77 hours of sleep deprivation, subjects with higher extraversion tend to perform somewhat poorly at tasks that involve attention and vigilance. [2]

Other studies have revealed that personality traits influence our cortisol levels [3] (the ‘fight-or-flight’ hormone) and, consequently, how we manage stress. [4] 

Furthermore, researchers believe that a combination of introversion and workplace preference for extraversion can easily lead to burnout. [5]

In other words, if you’re an introvert working in a place where socialization and constant human interactions are part of the job, you are more likely to deal with burnout than an extrovert.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should avoid such jobs at all costs. 

It just means you need to invest in self-care so that the everyday stress of interacting with lots of people doesn’t overwhelm you.    

Common Signs of Introvert Burnout

In essence, burnout is a state of physical and mental exhaustion that you experience after dealing with too much workplace responsibility and frequent social interactions.

Living in a fast-paced world means burnout is a serious risk that can affect your performance, relationships, and overall sense of well-being. 

For introverts, burnout can be the result of too much socializing and too little time to recharge. 

In general, it happens to those of us who work or study in environments where we spend hours talking, listening, and exchanging ideas with other people.

But it can also happen after attending a family gathering for a whole day or going on a trip with your friends.  

As I said earlier, the solution isn’t to avoid socializing or group activities but to create space for alone time without ever feeling ashamed for craving solitude.

So, let’s take a closer look at the most common signs of introvert burnout.

Signs Introvert Burnout Infographic | introvert overstimulation | introvert hangover

1. You feel so tired that you can’t even fall asleep.

One of the telltale signs of an introvert hangover is exhaustion.

When we hear the word ‘exhaustion,’ most of us will probably imagine body aches and pains.

But it’s not like that. 

Even though you’ve spent most of your day sitting at the table sharing drinks and laughs with your friends, you somehow feel spent.

The sense of tiredness that you experience when dealing with introvert burnout occurs at a mental and emotional level.

All that talking and laughing and sharing have overclocked your brain, so all you want is to put your phone on silent mode and enjoy some ‘peace and quiet.’ 

2. You’re easily irritated.

If you happen to text or call an introvert during his/her recharge time, you probably won’t get an answer. And if you insist, you will probably irritate him/her.

When your mind feels like it’s about to shut down completely, even the smallest request or disturbance can get on your nerves pretty easily.

It’s like pouring a few drops of water into an already full glass. It will spill.

The bottom line is that introverts are not irritable, bitter, or passive-aggressive by nature. 

If they display such attitudes, they probably feel overwhelmed and need some time to reconnect with themselves.   

3. You find it difficult to make even the smallest decisions.

When your brain is overstimulated, even simple decisions like what to eat for dinner seem impossible to make.

On top of that, when you’re dealing with introvert burnout, the chances of making hasty or even ‘bad’ decisions are somewhat higher.

Once again, it’s all due to an overstimulated brain that cannot perform at its best unless you give it a moment to power down and regain internal balance.

Long story short, don’t make important decisions while under the effect of an introvert hangover. 

4. Your mind feels ‘foggy’.

If you’re an introvert and you spend the entire day interacting with other people, chances are you will experience mental and emotional exhaustion.

In a way, it almost feels like your mind is submerged in murky waters.

You’re having trouble making decisions, you can’t focus on anything for more than a few seconds, and you zone out during conversations. 

The mental fog that you experience when you’re burned out is your brain’s way of telling you that it has reached its limit.

Unless you take a short break from everyone and everything, you will become more irritable and distracted. 

introvert burnout mind feels foggy | introvert overstimulation | introvert meltdown
If you’re an introvert and you spend the entire day interacting with other people, chances are you will experience mental and emotional exhaustion.

5. You’re easily distracted.

As you can probably imagine, it’s almost impossible to remain focused when your brain is overstimulated, and your mind is all over the place.

When you’re dealing with introvert burnout, even something as simple as a notification alert is enough to distract you from what you’re doing.

Even if you’re reading or watching a movie you like, you will notice that you tend to zone out or lose your focus the minute your phone buzzes.

Perhaps a quick nap could help you recalibrate and recharge. 

If you'd like to learn how to avoid distractions when you really need to focus on something important, watch this short video for actionable strategies you can use:

6. You feel anxious.

Believe it or not, introvert burnout can sometimes trigger anxiety.

Despite being emotionally drained, you somehow feel restless and agitated for no apparent reason.

As you sit in bed looking at the ceiling, your mind begins to ruminate on all sorts of catastrophic scenarios.

Maybe you obsess about something you said earlier that day, or perhaps you worry about not having the energy to work on that project you’re supposed to finish by tomorrow.

In my experience, the best way to overcome these random and seemingly inexplicable moments of anxiety is by grounding yourself in the present moment.

7. Your head feels like it’s going to explode.

Given that your body and mind share a strong link, introvert hangovers are often accompanied by a wide range of physical symptoms.

Some of the most common ones are headaches and migraines.

Once again, your brain is telling your body that you need to power down asap.

Instead of taking a pill, I suggest a warm cup of chamomile tea or a few minutes of meditation

Put your phone away, turn off your TV, and give yourself a moment of ‘peace and quiet.’

It will soothe the tension and pain caused by too much mental and emotional stimulation. 

How Can Introverts Prevent Burnout?

As long as your personality gravitates towards introversion, introvert hangovers will be part of your life.

Furthermore, like many people, you’re probably living in a relatively extroverted culture where social interactions are part of everyday life.

Since isolating yourself from society is not an option, the best thing you can do is invest in self-care strategies and routines that prevent overstimulation and help you maintain internal balance. 

Manage your energy levels

The first step in preventing introvert burnout is keeping track of your energy levels.

While some of us are more energetic in the morning, others feel lively in the afternoon.

Knowing how your mental and physical energy fluctuates throughout the day allows you to plan your activities and social interactions.

For instance, if you’re a morning person, try to schedule important meetings before lunch and leave other tasks for the rest of the day. 

That way, you can avoid burning out from having too many social interactions during that time of day when you’re not in your best emotional and mental form. 

It’s ok to decline an invitation once in a while 

In my experience, being an introvert and a people-pleaser at the same time is a guaranteed recipe for emotional disaster.

In other words, if you say ‘yes’ to every invitation (even when you don’t have the energy to entertain a conversation), you will most likely experience introvert burnout. 

There are many explanations as to why you’re putting others' needs before your own, and it would probably take me a whole article to approach this topic.

introvert burnout decline invitation | social exhaustion symptoms | introvert sickness
If you say ‘yes’ to every invitation (even when you don’t have the energy to entertain a conversation), you will most likely experience introvert burnout. 

All I’m saying is that even though it’s healthy to prioritize other people’s needs and say ‘yes’ from time to time, make sure you don’t neglect yourself by accepting every invitation you receive.

It’s ok to say “Maybe some other time” when a group of friends asks you out.

It’s ok to hit ‘decline’ when somebody calls you, but you don’t feel like you could authentically provide an empathetic ear or entertain a conversation.   

Spend some time alone

The most simple, accessible, and effective way for an introvert to power down and recharge is by spending some alone time.

Whether you prefer to curl up in bed with a good book, watch a movie, or take a nap, spending time with yourself helps you regain inner balance.

But there are numerous other benefits that you can gain from spending quality time with yourself.

When you put everyone and everything else on pause and sit with yourself for a moment, you might discover things about yourself that you wouldn’t usually notice.

In fact, I would go so far as to recommend spending some alone time to everyone, introverts and extroverts alike.

Avoid explaining or justifying yourself too much

The harsh truth is that not everyone will understand why you can’t hang out or grab a drink after work. 

For some people, the notion of ‘introvert burnout’ or ‘introvert hangover’ may sound like an excuse.

That’s why you’ll (if you haven’t already) meet people who don’t take your ‘No’ so lightly.

In my opinion, the more you try to justify and explain yourself, the more embarrassed and uncomfortable you feel.

If the other person can’t or doesn’t want to accept the fact that too much socialization can be exhausting for you, then there’s no point in convincing him otherwise. 

NEVER explain yourself more than once and NEVER apologize for who you are.

Introversion isn’t a flaw; it’s a personality trait.

Final Thoughts on Introvert Burnout

For me, being an introvert means I can spend the entire day all by myself, doing stuff that makes me feel happy and fulfilled. 

Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy spending time with other people and occasionally crave human interaction.

But I also feel at peace knowing that I can feel comfortable in the presence of my thoughts and emotions.

In fact, I firmly believe that being an introvert has (in part) helped me reach a profound understanding of myself.

The only moments when my introverted personality feels somewhat burdensome is when I have to speak in front of an audience or spend the whole day at a family reunion.     

So, here’s some piece of advice from one fellow introvert to another. 

If you go out with your friends and, at some point, you feel like it’s too much, don’t be ashamed or afraid to call it a night.

If you’ve spent your entire day talking to clients and attending meetings, give yourself some alone time.

And lastly, never apologize for who you are or justify yourself in front of other people.

That’s how you keep introvert burnout under control; by investing in self-care and living an authentic life.

And if you're looking for more introvert resources, check out these blog posts:

Alexander Draghici is a licensed Clinical Psychologist, CBT practitioner, and content writer for various mental health websites. His work focuses mainly on strategies designed to help people manage and prevent two of the most common emotional problems – anxiety and depression.

introvert hangover | introvert burnout at work | social exhaustion symptoms


[1] D. L. Walker, The Wiley Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences: Models and Theories, Hoboken, United States: John Wiley and Sons Ltd, 2020. 

[2] W. D. Killgore, J. M. Richards, D. B. Killgore, G. H. Kamimori and T. J. Balkin, “The trait of Introversion-Extraversion predicts vulnerability to sleep deprivation,” Journal of Sleep Research, vol. 16, no. 4, pp. 354-363, 2007. 

[3] K. K. Hauner, E. K. Adam, S. Mineka, L. D. Doane, A. S. DeSantis, R. Zinbarg, M. Craske and J. W. Griffith, “Neuroticism and Introversion are Associated with Salivary Cortisol Patterns in Adolescents,” Psychoneuroendocrinology, vol. 33, no. 10, p. 1344–1356, 2008. 

[4] O. Soliemanifar, A. Soleymanifar and R. Afrisham, “Relationship between Personality and Biological Reactivity to Stress: A Review,” Psychiatry Investigation, vol. 15, no. 12, pp. 1100-1114, 2018. 

[5] S. Turner, “Introversion and Workplace Factors in Burnout,” in Nevada Undergraduate Research Symposium, Nevada, 2019.

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