What is social hangover and how can it be combated?

The encounter with other people implies a certain expenditure of energy. When these encounters are repeated, without rest, we can experience a social hangover.

Last update: 21 September, 2022

Maybe, the social hangover became more evident during the post-pandemic. As we spent a lot of time in lockdown, once visits and activities began to be allowed, many people sought to make up for lost time.

Plans with the family, with friends, with office colleagues. Without rest, without pause, day after day. Not without consequences, of course. There are even phrases that exemplify it very well: “I stayed in bed, I have low energy, my energy ran out.”

This is the crux of the social hangover. The negative effects of permanent social encounters, without a pause or rest. Let’s see how to deal with it.

What is social hangover?

Social hangover refers to physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion, such as a burnout, caused by a succession of multiple encounters and social gatherings. In other words, it comes to highlight the adverse or negative effects that we experience after an active social life.

What happens is that, when we meet other people, we put multiple resources into play: cognitive, social, communication, etc. We also put the body with movements, gestures and tones of voice. So it stands to reason that after an uninterrupted and almost marathon series of social engagements, we end up tired.

It is important to clarify that social hangover is not a diagnosis. It is a way of illustrating a real social situation, but it does not appear in any kind of manual. Now, it is true that it is more frequent in certain cases; for example, in people who are highly sensitive (HSP), in those who are more lonely or introverted.

People with heightened sensitivity may find that social encounters wear them out more than others.

Signs of social hangover

Some of the signs that indicate that we are experiencing a social hangover are the following:

  • Loss of desire or interest in attending a place or meeting. This happens after the second event. That is, towards Saturday, we drag the fatigue of the meeting of the previous days.
  • Inability to be present. We want to be there, keep an open ear and be receptive, but we can’t. Instead, the question that spins in our heads is when it ends or when I can go home. Here we can also include difficulties in concentrating.
  • physical effects. Headaches, feeling of hyperstimulation, choking, dizziness. In some cases, we may experience a sore throat or loss of voice. This happens when we meet in crowded places and with loud music, where we need to speak louder and louder.
  • Humor changes: irritability, wanting to be alone.
  • Difficulty stopping. You may be exhausted, but your brain is still running at a thousand miles an hour. What happens is that it is difficult to return to a resting state. It is even possible to experience sleep disturbances.

How to combat social hangover?

Let’s review some tips to avoid falling into the social hangover. They are simple measures that can help you if you go through this situation.

learn to say no

With sensitivity and assertiveness, we can explain our situation to the other person, how we feel and decline the invitation. It is a healthy selfishness, in which self-care prevails. Now, we can think of making a counterproposal, as a way of expressing interest: «I propose that instead of seeing each other this week, we meet next Wednesday. I will be more free of time on that date».

Prioritize quality

Let’s look for the genuineness of the encounter instead of commitment. It is better to postpone the event and be able to be fully present.

Propose other forms of meeting

A typical situation is the end of the year. December begins with the toasts, the farewells, the closing meetings.

The truth is that between December 31 and January 1 of the following year, the only thing that changes is the number. No need to go crazy and force meetings to the last 2 weeks of the year.

We can plan more relaxed meetings and distribute them. Your body and your bonds will thank you.

Consider rest as a plan in itself

It is not about rest happening in the time we have left. On the contrary, we must create our own time to relax, clear our minds and connect with ourselves.

Rest is not a waste of time. Sometimes, it is the way to recover energy to resume social contact.

Fight our ghosts and insecurities

No one will stop loving us or stop being a part just for not accompanying a certain meeting. At least, this does not happen in secure and respectful bonds, in which we are able to understand the other without taking it personally.

We must also deal with FOMO (fear of missing out or “fear of being left out”). It is fear and anxiety that lead us to always accept, believing that if we don’t go, we will be missing something important.

Rethink the agenda

Is it wrong to meet friends, celebrate with some, have lunch with others? Not at all.

What is harmful is living in the extreme; do not allow breaks and pauses. The fact of not understanding the warning signals that our body sends us and trying to satisfy everyone is not healthy.

Although it is a matter of self-care, postponing some events is a way of taking care of the bond with the other person and even a sign of respect. After all, no one has to put up with our reluctance or bad mood. That the meetings be, then, a reason for sharing and joy, not a mere check list of the agenda.

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