I experienced a form of introvert burnout for the first time a few weeks ago and I had no idea it was coming.
To be honest, I never even thought it could happen to me.
A person who encourages others to have balance in their lives – there’s just no way!
Obviously I was completely wrong, and what’s more, I’m now a firm believer that to really understand something, you have to have experienced it first.
How I got introvert burnout
So here’s what happened – I overworked.
I got so excited by all the ideas, progress, and prospects I had in my head, that I worked constantly.
Don’t get me wrong, I finished work at 5 pm and wasn’t at my desk on the weekend.
But I was listening to work-related podcasts, reading work-related books, writing notes on my phone all the time.
I never really switched off.
In other words, I was not achieving a work-life balance.
The worst part about it all was that I had no idea that burnout was swiftly on its way.
After all, I was enjoying myself.
Then one day it hit me.
I crashed and burned, got ill, and lost my drive, ambition, and self-compassion. Instead, my stress levels rose and anxiety took over.
This wasn’t just being tired.
This was full-on introverted burnout.
If you’ve ever experienced it, you know exactly what I mean.
It took me about a week to come out of it, but what I learned when I did was so incredibly important.
How do you know if you have burnout?
‘Normal’ burnout and introvert burnout are very similar.
You can tell you’ve reached the point of burnout when:
- You feel less capable and motivated to work.
- You’re exhausted constantly.
- You start to emotionally distance yourself from others.
- Your stress levels are starting to affect your physical well-being.
- You’re starting to make poor work decisions.
Essentially, burnout is a reaction to prolonged overwork and stress which leaves you feeling exhausted, demotivated and lacking in self-worth.
Why introverts are more at risk of burnout
Introverts are particularly prone to overstimulation.
‘Normal’ burnout is usually caused by overworking, or a particularly high amount of stress.
Introvert burnout, on the other hand, can be a little more than that.
It can happen as a result of:
- Prolonged exposure to other people.
- The lack of quality alone time.
- Reduced amount of quality conversations or interactions.
- Lengthy exposure to overstimulating environments with loud noises, smells, or sights.
Usually, all of the above results in social or introvert burnout if exposed over a lengthy period of time.
For example, if you’re at a week-long conference and you have to be on top-form, overexposure to people and stimulation over a long period will likely burn you out.
What to do if you already have introvert burnout
If you’ve read the above and have burnout right now, the good news is, it’s not permanent.
The first step is recognising you have it – great news – you’ve clearly done that if you’re here.
Then, you need to pinpoint what caused it.
There’s no use in putting a plaster over burnout because it will just come creeping back if you don’t deal with the root cause.
Take some time to analyse what caused it and how you can stop it happening in the future.
At this stage, it’s worth telling someone close to you, they will be able to help you work around the problem you’re having.
Oh and while you’re there, you need to do some relaxing.
Burnout doesn’t go away if you ignore it and it certainly won’t go away if you don’t rest.
So take some time away from whatever has caused your burnout and move onto the next section for some more tips.
Note: If you’re experiencing burnout right now and it’s having a serious effect on your work and life. Please talk to a mental health professional.
How to avoid getting burnout ever again
As an introvert, you need to give yourself enough time to rest.
It sounds so obvious but I basically ignored this in the pursuit of my goals.
There’s just no point in being on all the time because what you produce will be of poor quality – especially as an introvert.
Don’t be on all the time, just don’t.
Pursue your goals in set chunks of time and then completely switch off from them.
Don’t take your goals into your leisure time thinking that you’ll get more done.
You’ll end up having to take a week off just to recover from emotional exhaustion.
Tell somebody what happened
I was lucky, my husband saw it coming before I did.
He even said that I was working a lot and maybe I should slow down.
To that, I denied all of his worries and carried on all the same – that’ll teach me!
If it happens to you, make sure you tell someone.
Once you hit introvert burnout it can stop you right in your tracks and it may take a little time for you to pick yourself up again.
Tell somebody you love and let them be there for you.
As introverts, we need to make sure we set boundaries.
I’m not talking about boundaries with other people here – we all know we need that!
I’m talking about everyday boundaries with things that give us even a little bit of anxiety.
- Does checking emails make you stressed?
- Remove them from your phone so you only see them at specific times. Or, pause your emails so that they all come in at specific times during the day.
- How about social media?
- If you’re comparing yourself, scrolling too much, generally feeling overwhelmed, then set some boundaries.
- Set a timer on your phone to pause the app after a certain amount of time.
- Set specific times in your diary to check social media – you’ll be thankful for it.
Lastly, if you’re feeling overwhelmed with work – chunk your time more effectively and break your tasks down into much smaller chunks.
The smaller a task is, the easier it is to do – it makes it seem much more possible and less stress-inducing.
Similarly, if you chunk your time with similar tasks, you can get everything done much quicker.
As introverts, we’re prone to being perfectionists.
Don’t let this drive for perfection overwhelm you.
Instead, accept that perfect is impossible and done is better.
Fill your ‘off’ time with things that are fun
When I say fun, I mean ONLY fun.
I’ve said it before, don’t kid yourself if you’re filling your spare time with anything at all related to your goals.
It doesn’t matter if your goal is fun, or your business is fun, it’s still work and your brain needs a break.
Instead, rediscover your hobbies, make time for simple pleasures.
Enjoy things that make you feel creative, or alive, or fulfilled.
After my setback, I got back into artistic hobbies, played a few video games and got back into gardening.
That’s it, all you have to do is take care of yourself.
As introverts, we live from the inside out, it’s so important that we keep check to make sure we don’t burnout and surprise everyone around us.
Have you ever experienced introvert burnout? Or have any tips for avoiding it?
Leave me a comment and let’s chat.