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21 Things People Don’t Realize You’re Doing Because You’re Socially Exhausted

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Taking care of your kids. Running back and forth between classes and doctor appointments. Working more shifts at work than you’d prefer. Having to get through social situations that trigger your anxiety or depression. Many of us have a lot on our plate, whether it’s managing a chronic illness, your mental health, being a crucial member of someone’s support system, or a mix of the three. There’s a good chance that you may feel socially exhausted sometimes.

What is social exhaustion? This response can vary for a lot of people. We all have different tendencies and habits, so social exhaustion can manifest itself in many different ways. When I’m socially exhausted, I find myself wanting to be more with animals than with humans. They can keep me company and don’t expect me to talk to them. What can be frustrating is when people judge us, or we feel that they are judging us, for things we do when we are socially exhausted.

We asked our community to share one thing that people don’t realize you’re doing because you’re socially exhausted. Hopefully, by talking about the various ways we deal with social exhaustion, we can all support each other better. Let us know in the comments if you can relate to any of these responses and tell us one of your own.

Here are some of the responses our community shared:

  1. “I avoid going out at night. Not because I don’t like it, but because I don’t have any energy left from my day. Being out and talking with people requires too much energy and spoons.” — Vanessa M.
  2. “I quietly listen to the conversations instead of joining in.” — Elaine L.
  3. “If I can’t get away, I just shut down. Emotionally and physically. I zone out and all I can think about is the noise of people talking and how bad I want to get away. I instantly get freezing cold, and exhausted to the point that I’ll start dozing off. There is nothing I can do to prevent it, or stop it once it has started. When I’m done, I’m done.” — Brittany K.
  4. “When I’m socially exhausted, I’ll stop answering private messages. I’m not being rude. I’ve just reached my ‘people limit’ for the day.” — Cathy C.
  5. I leave a group or a party for a few minutes to rest.” — Elisha D.
  6. “I pretty much shut everything and everyone off. I don’t talk to anyone, leave the house or answer the phone. The one thing that throws everyone off is I won’t let people come over uninvited.” — Sara F.
  7. I get annoyed and snappy. Over the littlest things. People don’t understand why I can laugh at something and then find the same thing irritating. So I isolate.” — Sandra G.
  8. “I act like an overtired toddler. Sometimes, I just need a nap!” — Emma H.
  9. I tune people out and put my earbuds in. I listen to music.” — Kathy Z.
  10. “I make up excuses to go home, the most popular one is I have a doctor’s appointment, as well as I’ve got work early in the morning, and I need to get a good night’s sleep.” — Charlette H.
  11. I zone out. People think I’m ditzy or the brain fog has kicked in, but, honestly, I’ve tuned out. My brain can’t take it anymore. I get quiet. Slink off to a corner and just sit and watch everyone else. This usually lasts until I leave the party.” — Brandi W.
  12. I stare blankly at someone and just can’t formulate a response beyond a grunt. I’m hearing you, I’m registering it, slowly, but I’m just too tired to produce words.” — Gabrielle M.
  13. I’ll start arguments, so I have an excuse to leave. I live in the south and leaving abruptly is really hard because people love to talk for ages so when I can’t take anymore I tend to lash out — I usually notice halfway through why I’m picking a fight. Ironically it’s even more exhausting as I later have to apologize.” — Sarah L.
  14. I often feel very faint, I inwardly fight to stay focused and not blackout. I am always so embarrassed when I faint.” — Lucy O.
  15. I hide my physical health problems. It takes a lot for me to be honest and vulnerable with people, and my illness is so severe that a lot of people don’t believe me when I’m fully honest about my limits.” — Jillian S.
  16. “When I’ve become socially exhausted, I’ve caught myself walking away from others in the middle of them speaking to me. On the occasion I’ve caught myself, I realized my brain no longer comprehended we were in a conversation and they were speaking to me.” — Ginny P.
  17. “I lie about having other plans, so I don’t have to deal with social interactions for too long, or at all if I can help it.” — Hope G.
  18. “I’ll just stop talking. It does not matter if you are staring me right in the eyes, and we are having a full blown conversation. You can ask me a direct question, and I will just stare at you and walk away. I physically and mentally do not have the ability to form words.” — Moon C.
  19. “I start ignoring texts and messages, to the point where I won’t even remember that I received them.” — Sarah L.
  20. “When I’m at someone’s birthday or something, which is rare because most of the time I choose not to go, and I get too much input or it’s too busy, I try to get into my own world and play a game on my cellphone or something. People who don’t know me may think I’m antisocial but it’s a way to protect myself.” — Lenthe S.
  21. “I usually get so tired when I’m out somewhere that I feel like I can’t support my head anymore. I begin to hold my head up with both hands. Sometimes I even begin to get a headache because outside stimulation is overwhelming after a few hours, so I start rubbing my forehead.” — Lisa G.
Originally published: November 30, 2018
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