Feeling Exhausted After Socialising? You Might Be Experiencing A Social Hangover

By Sarah Hannan

Feeling Exhausted After Socialising? You Might Be Experiencing A Social Hangover

November 10th, 2021 at 6:24 am

During the prolonged lockdowns, I was eager to meet up with friends and family. Although Zoom and FaceTime calls were essential to maintain social connections, they weren’t able to subtitle real human contact. We made plans to meet up as soon as the lockdown lifted, but now that restrictions have eased and opportunities to socialise have grown, I find myself feeling exhausted and looking forward to some quiet time.


Before the pandemic, I always felt inspired and energised whenever I was with my friends. That seems to have changed after our first few post-lockdown hangouts – I struggled to follow through with the conversations. Why was I feeling this way? I knew I couldn’t be the only one, so I did some searching online and discovered that I was experiencing a social hangover.


What is a social hangover?

A social hangover is not a clinical term, but it’s a term that has existed in the vocabulary of introverts. Now, post-lockdown, it’s a term that many of us can relate to, regardless of whether we are introverts or extroverts. Similar to an alcohol hangover, a social hangover is the feeling of utter depletion after socialising. There may not be a headache or sick bucket involved, but after too much socialising, one can feel physically and emotionally exhausted.


Why do we experience social hangovers?

According to Australian psychotherapist Amber Rules, when we spend time with people in large crowds or noisy places, the social part of our brain gets stimulated, making us hyper-aroused. Since we have not socialised in a while, this can become an exhausting experience, prompting us to rest and recover. She added that it is normal to feel overloaded or overwhelmed even after very little social engagement.


How to get over a social hangover

After experiencing social hangovers during my recent meet-ups, I thought that I could share some tips with you on how to avoid experiencing it further:

  • Ease into social interactions – Before meeting up in larger groups, start with meeting a few people at a time. Choose people from your closest social circle that you would feel more comfortable interacting with.
  • Set time boundaries – The more time you spend in a social setting, the more exhausted you would feel. If possible, set a time limit for your social interactions, between one to three hours, and inform your friends or family before you meet them.
  • Leave time to recover – You do not have to attend all the social events you get invited to; allow yourself to rest and recover after a social interaction. Indulge in some self-care, such as having a soak in the tub mid-afternoon, going for a 10-minute walk, meditating, or reading a book.
  • Acknowledge your emotions – While we are all adjusting and re-adjusting to socialising, we should all accept that we may experience a social hangover. Most of us will get over this sensation, but if you think you need help from a mental health professional, please don’t be afraid to seek it.

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