Outsmarting Introvert Burnout
November 17, 2022
Even among professional athletes who have an intense, lifelong passion for the sports they are paid immense sums of money to play, burnout is a threat. If these individuals can grow weary of their dream profession, what does this mean for the rest of us? Activities that have historically brought us great joy and satisfaction are not guaranteed to do so endlessly, which renders introvert burnout a possible outcome.
If we are socially exhausted for extended periods of time, or if we are experiencing acute introvert exhaustion markers and are tired of dealing with people, we risk a dearth of all energy and entering a stage of stagnation. In the sixth stage of Erik Erikson’s framework, people grapple with issues relating to whether they embody generativity or stagnation.
The Tilt Framework holds that generativity is a desirable outcome of flow that we all have the potential to experience in which we transcend self-interests in favor of the purpose or mission of the project or endeavor that inspires effort. When this state is not realized, stagnation results.
Stagnation is particularly a threat when we are socially exhausted and experiencing introvert burnout symptoms. It can also occur if we have been doing the same job for too long. Our goal should be to notice when we have reached a point of stagnation brought on by introvert burnout and to learn ways to get back into the flow of generativity. In this way, we are not only productive, but we are serving the greater good.
As with any warning signal–whether physical, mental, or emotional–it’s important to know what can be done to mitigate the potential hazard to your well-being. This blog will discuss what is meant by the phrase introvert burnout, what we can do to prevent it, and what actions we can take to alleviate it if we begin to notice its symptoms.
Prevention, in part, hinges on understanding how a given threat can throw you off balance. Continue reading for introvert burnout summary information and avoidance strategies.
An Exploration of Introvert Burnout
None of us possesses infinite energy and motivation, but certain individuals do have more of these attributes than others. It is, therefore, essential to recognize when our energy and motivation levels are approaching critical and to then know and execute what it will take to restore them.
When people say that they are tired of their job, they are conveying that it is either boring, too demanding, or excessively difficult to navigate. Of course, physical jobs primarily tax the body while cognitive jobs tax the mind, but both have the potential to drain or exacerbate emotions.
While most of us do not have the luxury of entirely hand-picking our occupations, exploring the demands of a potential job prior to submitting an application can be a valuable endeavor. By the time we are old enough to have full-time jobs, we tend to know ourselves pretty well, so assessing what will be required in a certain position can help us predict the burnout potential before accepting a given position.
Understanding ourselves is important because some of us get socially exhausted more readily than the average person–social exhaustion, social fatigue, social burnout, and introvert burnout are terms for this state, and they are synonymous.
A list of introvert burnout symptoms that we can be vigilant about is:
- Emotional or mental exhaustion
- Decreased performance
- Headaches or other bodily complaints
A crucial note is that everyone who suffers from social fatigue experiences it uniquely. One person with introvert exhaustion might have to grapple with all of the symptoms in the above list while someone else has to only deal with one or two.
If someone has any of these symptoms but does not believe they are due to social exhaustion, it might be fruitful to seek the counsel of a medical professional, as the complaints in that list would certainly get unbearable rapidly and potentially cripple work productivity and overall well-being. A variety of other illnesses can create similar symptoms and they should first be ruled out before attempting to solve the problem oneself.
Introvert burnout symptoms begin to surface following extensive social interaction, and people with reserved social preferences are more prone to the condition. This notion is readily accessible since introverts aren’t hungry for substantial interpersonal contact in the first place. A car with a tiny gas tank will stall out long before others.
But in contrast to gas tanks that are generally impossible to expand, our ability to engage in lengthy social interactions is malleable and can be bolstered. We will now detail six strategies that can be wielded by anyone who is attempting to thwart social exhaustion.
Six Strategies to Thwart Social Exhaustion
- Consult a Coach: Coaches, particularly those who have been trained in the Laser Coaching Masterclass offered by Tilt365, can provide clients with targeted support. Individuals who have earned their Laser Coaching certification are equipped to get to the root of clients’ problems. Introvert burnout is just one of the many complaints that a Tilt 365-trained laser coach can help resolve efficiently.
- Take Time for Yourself: Claiming your right to alone time means honoring yourself in balance with the needs of others. This requires communicating your intentions and needs honestly and forthrightly and then acting in accordance. When they come to understand that you will re-emerge as a happier person later, it sets everyone up for success.
- Exercise: It might be tempting to think that exercise should be the last activity for someone who is burned out and exhausted. However, it turns out that our bodies’ stress-response cycle may not finish without physical exertion. Everyone has their own unique form of exercise that is the most fun (or, at a minimum, least aversive).
Thus, it might take us some experimentation to land on a form of exercise that we can look forward to engaging in. One person might enter a state of flow and euphoria while playing racquetball, while another person feels drained or stressed by the same activity.
Research demonstrated that aerobic exercise has a restorative effect on our central nervous system. When participants in this study engaged in just one session of moderate aerobic exercise, they rebounded more readily–in terms of their cognitive flexibility, mood, tiredness, self-perceived cognitive capacity, and motivation–than participants who engaged in a more passive activity.
- Creative Endeavors: Our fourth potential preventative measure for circumventing introvert exhaustion is engaging in activities that draw on your creativity. For you, this might be writing music or compiling a script for a skit, but it might be something else entirely. When we passionately channel our creative juices, there is the tendency to enter a flow state where we are entirely engrossed in content creation, and we escape our troubles and anxieties for a time. Even just knowing that you have allotted time in the evening for this type of outlet can lift our spirits during the day and fuel motivation.
- Allocate Time Strategically: The next strategy involves time management. It can be easy to develop a laundry list of household tasks that must be completed after work, but there needs to be time devoted to rest. Being strategic on days off can help.
For instance, if you find yourself struggling to muster the energy to make dinner at home after work, and you don’t want to do takeout a lot, you could make a big meal on the weekend and refrigerate or freeze it. This way, all you have to do is take out the amount you’re hungry for and heat it.
Another example could be laundry. Saturday can be laundry day for the week so that during the week, we don’t have to worry about that task when we need to relax and our work day is complete.
- Mental Reframing: Despite the fact that spending time with family is one of life’s greatest joys, everyone has the chance of falling prey to suboptimal work-family balance. Work and time with family both have the potential to drain our emotional energy via the extensive amount of time spent interacting with others.
As we mentioned earlier, introverts have less stamina for social interaction in the first place, so for them, they need to pay particular attention to the amount of social stamina they have remaining. One possible solution to this dilemma could be figuring out how to mentally reframe time with family so that it recharges introverts’ batteries instead of depleting them.
How Can I Resolve Introvert Burnout?
Exercising attentiveness and strategy does not always result in complete avoidance of a given threat, and the same is true for the threat of introvert burnout. It can manifest even if we take the proper precautions. If you suspect that the symptoms you are experiencing are due to introvert burnout, keep reading for some tactics that can be used to mitigate those introvert burnout complaints.
Planning for the future by analyzing the past is a great endeavor. We can practice recall of social events and interactions that we have had, and see if there are any patterns to when we start to feel depleted. Was it precipitated by someone who was very boisterous? Was there loud music that overwhelmed you? Were you anxious about what you would say and how you would say it? Were you in too many back-to-back meetings that week?
Recording answers to questions like these have the potential to enable greater self-understanding and prepare us for future social events. Journaling can go a long way in providing a research resource for our own patterns for years to come.
Next, we all have activities that we enjoy and get pleasure from. As mentioned earlier, channeling our creative energy helps prevent social exhaustion, but it also works as a salve once we are actually experiencing introvert burnout. We can make a note of our favorite activities and decide which ones would be best to pursue in a given situation depending on the particular form and intensity of introverted emotional exhaustion symptoms.
If the symptoms are mild, a walk outdoors might be good. When symptoms are more intense, something less physical, like listening to your favorite album might be better.
Finally, we need to exercise judgment when accepting invitations. For those of us who get depleted quickly, it might not be prudent to accept all of the invites we get. Everyone is different, so a good maximum might be one event per week for one person while someone else can comfortably handle four.
A key point is that social interaction is good for everyone, regardless of whether they are introverted or extroverted. The benefits of time with others include a boost in mood and happiness, dementia prevention, feeling safe and accepted, and the chance to share personal information.
How do I know how introverted I am?
An assessment like the True Tilt Personality Profile™ (TTP) can provide us with insights into our social preferences. What is unique, though, about the TTP is that it can account for different contexts. For example, if someone is very shy and reserved with a single person but is then a spirited, world-class performer on stage in front of 30,000 people, the TTP can tap into those social preference nuances.
Your introversion or extroversion can also vary depending on what part of you is involved. For example, you may be more open with others about your thoughts and less extroverted concerning your emotions. The Unique Amplifier™ section of the TTP can give you specific clarity regarding your four signature strengths in head, heart, gut, and spirit. Knowing your social tolerance levels in all four can help you make career decisions that light you up instead of depleting your energy reserves.
These sorts of results can help us understand ourselves better, particularly when we are trying to avoid introvert drained feelings.
Introvert burnout can happen to anyone, and it can be very difficult to manage. Thankfully, the strategies featured in this article can help us both prevent and also recover from such a state.
It’s important to be deliberate when it comes to balancing our priorities and the finite energy we all possess, and you can launch that endeavor today. Doing so will make it easier to sidestep stagnation so that we can maintain a generative mindset.