I say this all the time when I'm out and about. I love people, don't get me wrong. I love hanging out with friends, family, and even strangers from time to time. The problem is my social battery is extra small and low-quality. I've got an old car 1980s battery when it comes to my social tolerance.
I'm an introvert like many others, and I love being in my own space and having my alone time. I have moments where I'm talkative and can hang out for hours or days, but my energy is best when I'm alone in my own zone or with one or two other people very close to me.
If you're like me, you've had moments where you're socializing for a while, and you suddenly just need everything to end. You're ready to go home, you need your space to recharge, and you've had enough for the day.
When it gets really bad, I actually get a bit physically sick when trying to force myself to stay in a social scenario. I've had times when I had to immediately step away from a gathering and go home because I couldn't handle it in my gut.
Many of these times that this happens, I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt along with the social battery drainage. I wonder to myself, "Why can't I just hang out longer like everybody and be okay? Why can't I be normal?"
The thing I have to remind myself is that introversion is normal, and it's totally fine. Introverts need to take time for themselves to recharge so that they can be the best versions of themselves (for themselves and for others).
Trying to force extroversion when your battery is drained is a recipe for disaster. You might wind up going to or staying at a party with negative vibes just oozing out of you, and that won't be fun for anyone. Sure, there are some times were can fake it til we make it, but that isn't doing any good for your own mental health.
So what can you do when you need to take some time out to recharge? I want to share a few ideas that may be able to help you recharge for minutes, hours or even days at a time. In some cases, you will just need to leave for the day, but sometimes you can charge up just enough in faster than you would think.
I'm actively using a few of these methods on a daily thanks to the teaching and research I've received from my therapist, who actively works with me to help fight against many different anxieties that I deal with all the time.
The one thing that helps me as I go through my process and symptoms of social battery drainage is to talk to someone I trust about it. I find that talking to my husband or my best friends about the matter really helps me to release some of the built-up tension I have.
Depending on where you are and who you are hanging out with, you may be able to just walk away from a function without any stress at all because you have a relationship with the people there who understand your personal needs.
Mindfulness meditation is a technique where you take a moment to find a quiet place, a comfortable place to sit or stand, and give yourself at least 15 minutes to clear your mind and breathe. I like doing mindfulness mediations where I inhale through my nose for 5 seconds, hold it for 5 seconds, and then breathe out through my mouth for 8 seconds.
When you do this type of meditational breathing repeatedly over several minutes, you find that you can trick your body into a state of relaxation.
The real trick with mindfulness meditation is to try and clear your mind while you breathe in and out. Often when we're going through periods of stress or exhaustion, our minds are racing a mile a minute and not helping the situation at all.
I like to focus on the breathing counts that I'm doing as I inhale in and out. Sure, some thoughts may push through here and there, but I don't judge myself for those thoughts and try to focus on the numbers in my head. Even if I can't fully clear my mind, it helps.
Writing your thoughts and frustration down is a great choice when you're at a function where your social battery is draining, and you don't think it's appropriate to leave or talk to someone about it. While it may not do much, and you'll still be drained, journaling is a great way to relieve some of that stress.
This is especially true if you do it consistently over time and make it a regular way for you to disconnect for a bit without leaving. You don't need to actually have a journal on you; you can vent in your notes app on your phone.
If you're in a spot where you can take a break, go outside, and enjoy the fresh air, take that opportunity to do so! Make sure you take a break alone so that you can have a moment of peace. It's even better if you're located somewhere where the view of nature is particularly beautiful to experience. It's a great way to meditate and recharge.
This may be the piece of advice you hate the worst; trust me, I don't like it either. But I find that when I was at my most hermit self, staying all alone for the most part and working from home, my social battery was at its smallest overall.
The more consistently I went out and got more social (in small doses), the more comfortable I was with being out for longer. It's always good to have balance as an introvert and to make sure you don't climb so far into your shell that you never want to come out.
Who doesn't love a good nap now and then? Sleep is a great choice for the introvert who has to be dragged along to a social experience that lasts for hours or a full day. You will find that sleep in between social moments can really help recharge you here and then.
The sleep doesn't even need to be that long. You can try short or power naps that are 15 to 30 minutes to reset yourself a bit in terms of social energy. It won't be as great as a full night's sleep, of course, but it's better than nothing.
If you find that you are often around friends, family, or coworkers in your schedule, you will need to take extra time and energy to fight for your personal space. Time management will be crucial for situations where you can only get a few minutes or hours to yourself a day.
Get a set schedule where you can put time aside to be in your own world, even if it's only for a few minutes. Make sure that time happens consistently. Don't budge for anyone because this is a huge part of self-care for you.
Working out is almost always a good idea. A nice walk with nature and a mindfulness meditation while you walk around may be able to fully recharge your battery when you combine them! According to the CDC website:
"Physical activity can improve your cognitive health—helping you think, learn, problem-solve, and enjoy an emotional balance. It can improve memory and reduce anxiety or depression."
We all love to relate to one another in some form or fashion. Even though introverts like being in their own space, they also appreciate not being alone with that behavior pattern. I find that venting to my other introvert friends helps relieve some of my stress and tension.
You don't even have to be around other introverts to relate to one another. There are plenty of social sites and groups out there dedicated to introverts who can relate and converse with one another on the type of terms that introverts feel comfy! Let's shun the extroverts for a bit!
I have to stress this point one more time because it's the message I need to get across to myself the most! I can only imagine the pressure that other introverts put on themselves when it comes to their social battery draining. You can feel like a party pooper, a bad person, a weirdo, and tons of other negative names when you hit those low battery moments.
BUT IT IS TOTALLY OKAY!
As long as you communicate with those around you, try as hard as you can, be there in moments where you can, and give yourself the grace to be who you are, everything will work out as it should.
Don't let anyone tell you that you are a bad person for being who you are when it comes to introversion. And don't let yourself tell yourself that you are a bad person for being an introvert.