It took a global pandemic for us to fully recognize how exhausting socializing can be, even if it’s with people you really like. Of course, this is something that introverts have always known, but now, after most people stopped spending time with friends for at least a period of time over the last two and a half years, everyone else has a much better idea than it is. it feels like.
This social fatigue presents us with a challenge: How do we keep up with our friends, when the very idea of being “on” is exhausting? Here are some strategies that might help.
Set and communicate limits
There’s no rule that socializing has to be an all-day (or even all-night) affair. Before you start making plans, tell your friend that you’d love to hang out, but need to limit it to an hour-long lunch or a particular event followed by a drink afterwards, for example.
While you don’t owe anyone an explanation for why you can’t spend more time together, you can certainly be honest with your friend and tell them that socializing kills you. They may even feel the same way and be grateful that you said something.
Schedule some alone time
If making plans with another person feels overwhelming, it can help to make it official. make some time for yourself (as in, put it on the calendar). This way, you know you’ll have some quiet time to recover, rather than having to move on to the next tiring task (even if it’s one you enjoy).
Identify (and avoid) the most triggering situations
Some of your social exhaustion may come from feeling anxious in particular settings or situations. First, find out what they are (if any). For example, are you afraid of going to noisy restaurants or bars? and having to strain to hear your friend and yell to be heard? Or can you handle socializing with one or two people, but get nervous when there are more people than that?
Think about what makes you uncomfortable, and then tell your friend that those are the things you’d like to avoid, if possible. From there, make plans that work for everyone (or at least don’t trigger unnecessary anxiety).