Okay, what even is a social battery? I'd love to say I coined the term myself but I totally didn't, so allow me to give you a quick run down...
'Social battery' is the amount of energy a person has for socialising before they feel pretty wiped out and mentally exhausted.
It's like when you head into that friends gathering and give the bubbliest version of yourself for about an hour or so, until you slowly feel disconnected, uninterested and ready to enjoy a solo drive home. 👋🏼
If this sounds a bit too familiar, stay with me as I'll be telling you why your social battery runs low, what the major signs are, and how to recharge yourself 🔋
Signs That You Have a Short Social Battery Life:
- You become easily agitated early into a social gathering
- You have a strong desire to go home or go somewhere that is more familiar / comforting
- You could really do with some alone time when you're out with others
- Doing something quiet sounds ideal
- Feeling easily overwhelmed by crowds or any large groups, even if you know the majority of people there
- You get lost in your own imagination rather than focussing on what's around you
- You're unable to focus on what someone is saying to you
- Other might ask you "what's wrong?", but you're just not as engaged anymore
But Why Does Your Social Battery Run Out in the First Place?
That's a good question.
The short answer would be – you have a strongly introverted side to you which emerges in social settings and makes you plan an escape route.
But when we dig a little deeper, there's a few things that can impact how quickly your energy depletes:
The person you're actually hanging out with
Although your social battery runs out fast, you'll actually find that it lasts a little longer when you're with someone that makes you feel safe. When we can be our complete authentic, hilarious self around someone, it's easier to give them more time and energy.
So then if we're with someone who we're not too familiar with, it's a lot more draining to maintain conversation. This could be a colleague or a stranger!
The Group Size
Ever been to a bridal shower or a graduation dinner and it's just a massive group of your friend's friends and their friends? Yup, it's awkward.
The more complex the social dynamic is, the more overwhelmed you're likely to feel. Extraverts may use this as an opportunity to network and make new friends, but you may be trying to stay close to the one person you actually know.
As part of human nature, people tend to gravitate towards those who they feel understand them and share their experiences. If you happen to be in a social setting where you're the only one from your cultural background, race or even age group, this may affect your social interactions.
Loud Noise / Traffic
Similarly to the one about large groups, loud noises and people constantly chatting over one another can make you feel like you're drowning in it all. This is one of the main way a person crawls back into the inner world in their mind.
There's a ton of factors at play when we talk about our social battery life, but it's important that we unravel these as a way of getting to know ourselves better.
Okay So, How Do We Recharge Our Social Battery?
Remember, it won't be an overnight fix but these are a few recommended ways of expanding your social battery:
- Try to communicate with others as much as you can in daily life. Call loved ones often, meet up with friends when you can, and keep in the loop with others. Getting used to this constant flow of talking and socialising will aid you on those evenings out!
- Join a local club, or sports activity. This will encourage you to meet with others as well as do something you're interested in
- Try to avoid working alone all the tine. Personally, I love working by myself because I'm more 'in the zone', but a coffee date/ work session with my bestie is a fun alternative
- Observe how others maintain their social battery in gatherings. Us introverts are great observers so this shouldn't be too pressing of a task!
My favourite tip?
Plan you alone time effectively. No-one wants to take your 'me-time' away from you – it's certainly necessary, trust me! So, if you know that you have a peaceful evening planned with just some solo reading, a long shower and a cosy blanket, this gives you an incentive to be as sociable as you can during the day before you close your curtains on the world.
P.S. Don't Feel Guilty...
I thought I'd add this in because this was a real personal struggle for me when I didn't understand just how short my social battery was.
It's perfectly normal (and common) for you to feel like you need a break after socialising. You value your own time and you feel the most at peace when you're with yourself – that is a beautiful trait to have, my friend.
The tips we mentioned above are to simply help you manage both your social time with your loved ones, and still look after your own well-being. I'd always suggest communicating your social behaviour patterns to those you trust so they can be there for you in those moments, too.
Social battery is a metaphor to help us understand the responses we have to social interactions and, once we acknowledge it, we can find ways to manage it better.
There's a variety of external factors and stressors that can trigger our social battery to deplete such as who we're spending time with, the size of the group, and the level of familiarity. We covered a few long-term ways to extend our ability to socialise and come out of our shells. 💓
If you feel that your low energy in social settings is related to / causing anxiety, consider speaking to your doctor for professional advice.