How Can Creating a Plan Keep Socializing from Exhausting Us?
If you feel like you went from having no social plans to your calendar being booked solid, you’re not alone. It seems people have found themselves with two years’ worth of plans crammed into a couple of months. After over a year of isolation, jumping back into a jammed pack social schedule can feel incredibly overwhelming and draining. There’s no shame in starting slowly and listening to your mind and body when they tell you you’ve had enough. Many of us feel like we “should” say yes to all plans because we’ve missed out on seeing people for such a long time. Many of us are genuinely excited to run out of our apartments and into the closest social gathering. Regardless of your perspective, the idea of social fatigue or exhaustion is something most of us are dealing with. Plans that felt like a no brainer or easy to say yes to a year ago can feel incredibly draining today. The unofficial terminology being used to describe the exhaustion following a social interaction is “social hangover.”
So, what exactly is a “social hangover?” Despite it not being a legitimate clinical term, it refers to “feeling really low-energy, irritable, anxious, and maybe even physically depleted after hanging out with people.” Even if we’re only attending one social event or a dinner, we may find ourselves significantly more tired or drained than we were prior to the pandemic. Our socializing tolerance is very low. As time goes on, it’s likely our tolerance will increase, however, for the time being, it may be nice to ease back into pre-pandemic life. If we can take our time moving back into the world, we’re less likely to be overwhelmed and overstimulated and potentially preventing a social hangover. In order to best prevent a social hangover from occurring, there are different tools we can put in place, discussed below.
As briefly mentioned above, our socializing tolerance has decreased leading to more time needed to recover afterwards. If possible, spacing out social events can be incredibly helpful in preventing the likelihood of becoming overstimulated. If spacing out social events isn’t an option, trying to space out the larger social gatherings is just as important. If you have a wedding coming up, maybe try and plan a coffee date instead of a large group dinner the weekend before.
While it may not be possible to cut down on the number of social events on your calendar or how many events you’re obligated to attend, you can set boundaries around the amount of time spent at an event. Keeping visits with friends or family to 1-3 hours is incredibly helpful in preventing a social hangover or overstimulation. Many restaurants still enforce a time limit on reservations. This is a great way to ensure you have time with those you care about without finding yourself at a 4-hour meal.
Since we’ve been in isolation for over a year, there’s likely a lot of people you’d like to see or meet up with that you haven’t seen since before the pandemic. However, this does not mean we need to see them all at the same time! It may take longer, but you’ll be able to enjoy the quality time you have with your loved ones without feeling burnt out afterwards.
On the days or weekends where you have a lot of plans that you know may drain you, prepare to not have the most productive days following. Don’t make plans for the following week, get ahead on work before the weekend so you don’t have to worry about getting behind, and inform those close to you, you may be a bit slow to respond the next couple of days. It’s likely the people in your life are experiencing something similar and will appreciate your honesty. It may even encourage them to prioritize their mental and physical health and be honest with the people in their lives as well.
If you’ve found yourself struggling to begin socializing again and are struggling with the aftereffects, it may be useful to try counseling. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists in Chicago today!
Written by Kara Thompson-Miller, Licensed Clinical Social Worker: January 2023 “Why is it so hard to like my body?”: A unassumingly complex question that has been asked by many clients in many different variations, but one that, nonetheless, tends…Read More
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