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Sex with Dr. Jess


September 22, 2021

How To Deal With Social Burnout

Back to work? Or back to school? Are you feeling burned out? Jess chimed in on Global TV’s The Morning Show to talk about signs of social burnout and strategies for managing it — for folks of all social persuasions. Check out her notes and the video interview below.

What is social burnout? Why does it happen?

Social burnout and social fatigue are valid experiences, even if they’re not formal diagnoses. Burnout often occurs when you’ve socialized to the point that you feel you can’t do it anymore. And you might notice a range of emotional and physical responses that signal that you’ve had enough.

What are some signs that you’re socially exhausted or burnt out?

Signs can vary greatly. For some people, you might feel drained, tired, stressed, or irritable. Some people get overwhelmed with a dislike for everything and everyone around them. For others, everything might feel pointless or boring. And you start zoning out. You might have physical symptoms, anxiety, or feel like you can’t make polite small talk anymore. And it can just feel like you’re running on empty.

You mention that you’re an extrovert. Is social exhaustion different for extroverts versus introverts?

christian-erfurt-sxQz2VfoFBE-unsplashIntroverts get energy and recharge by spending time alone; extroverts derive energy and get charged up from social interaction. But none of us is necessarily one or the other. You can be introverted at times and extroverted at other times. It’s not about one being more universally outgoing or universally shyer than the other.

I’ve heard social burnout referred to as an introvert hangover, which speaks to the fact that those who do tend to recharge in solitude may find that we don’t get as much out of socializing and may have a lower threshold in terms of social needs.

What can you do to avoid social burnout?

  • Get clear on your triggers and boundaries.

If you’re thinking of saying yes to a social engagement, visualize yourself being there and see how you feel. If it feels good, say yes. If it’s neutral, get back to them. If it feels distressful, say no. Sometimes we say yes because we think we’re supposed to want to be invited, but visualization can help to clarify what we want. And pay attention to which types of social interactions tend to be most tiring — is it with friends, family, workmates, or specific people? Plan accordingly.

  • Cancel if you’re not feeling up for it; I know you don’t want to be flaky. Of course, you want to consider other people’s plans and expectations. However, if it’s going to affect your physical and mental health, then let them know.
  • Also, recognize that social media can also contribute to burnout, so if you’re going home to recharge, consider setting some self-imposed limits on technology.

What should you do if you’re feeling burnt out?

  • Take a break.
  • Step away.
  • Excuse yourself.


Identify how you recharge. I’m very social, but to recharge, I need to be alone — no phone calls, Zoom meetings (which are the most exhausting for me), or even answering my door. I can only talk to my partner Brandon when I’m recharging. And I like to do the crossword while playing, but not watching a TV show, and sitting in a specific corner of my house — or I’ll play the piano.

For others, recharging is all about working out or taking a nap. Figure out what feels good for you and cancel everything else.

What can you do if one partner is more social than the other?

Stop trying to do everything together. The social one can go out, and the one who wants to be alone can do just that. Just don’t allow your desire to recharge at home (or out at a party) to dictate what your partner must do. If you want to stay in, do it on your own.