Self Care

What Is Introvert Burnout: Why It Happens & How To Spot It (Part 1 of 2)

March 8, 2023

I'm Jess. This blog is a collection of everything I've learned as I rebuilt my self-image from a burned-out-extrovert-wannabe to an at-ease-introvert-bookworm.
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What is Burnout?

Simply put, burnout is a state of exhaustion that affects our bodies, mind, and spirit. It’s a consuming experience that can affect every aspect of our lives, not just our careers.

According to many sources, prolonged stress causes burnout. However, it’s more nuanced than that based on recent research.

There can be several reasons why a person burns out. While introversion itself is not a cause of burnout, not understanding your introversion or not acting in alignment with your introversion can lead to burnout. Specifically, it can lead to introvert burnout.

What is Introvert Burnout?

Introvert burnout is a form of burnout. It’s a state of exhaustion that comes from being overstimulated or drained without the time to rest and recharge.

Why do Introverts Burn Out?

Introverts do not burn out because of their introversion. In truth, it’s because society prefers extroverts and this has massive consequences.

Our society tends to favor extroverted people and extroverted traits (something known as extrovert bias). Extrovert bias creates standards and environments that favor extroverted people.

Two women brainstorming on a white board.
There are many industries that are built around extroverted traits and behaviors, like advertising, marketing, HR, and PR.

In order to meet the standards and excel in these environments, introverts may develop certain mindsets, behaviors, habits, and patterns. While these seem helpful, they can actually be very draining.

Extrovert bias teaches introverted people to disregard their own weariness. They’re encouraged to keep working or socializing even when they’re drained. This can be damaging. This habit, called pushing through, is often rewarded by the prevailing extroverted culture.

However, by pushing through, introverts miss opportunities to rest and recharge. Not resting and recharging can lead to introvert hangovers and introvert burnout.

In the case of introvert entrepreneurs, society’s emphasis on grind and hustle culture likely makes burnout worse.

Woman walking with laptop and notebook in hand. She's walking so quickly that she's blurred, symbolizing overwork.
Pushing through feeling tired, drained, or exhausted is like trying to drive your car with a flat tire. It may move forward, but at what cost?

Introvert Burnout Symptoms & Signs

There are many signs and symptoms of introvert burnout. Here are just a few:

  • Feelings of physical, mental, and/or emotional exhaustion
  • Feeling unable to cope
  • Physical symptoms like pain or gut health issues
  • Mental fog
  • Feeling cynical about work
  • Feeling numb about work
  • Being irritable
  • Find it hard to concentrate
  • Difficulty being creative
  • Lack of motivation
  • Loss of meaning

The reason why it’s so important to differentiate between introvert burnout and burnout is that introverted people have specific needs. Introverts’ energy is more impacted by external stimuli and introverted people rest and recharge differently.

My Personal Experience With Introvert Burnout

I am an introverted person, as well as a Highly Sensitive Person.

The first 10+ years of my career were in advertising and marketing, an extra extroverted industry.

I modeled my behavior after successful people, all of whom were extroverted or displayed extroverted traits. As a result, I burnt out chronically.

Mindsets and beliefs about hard work, ambition, and success also contributed to my burnout. Interested in my personal experience with introvert burnout?

I was in a loop: I’d start a new job, burn out, and quit only to do it all over.

Eventually, I left my career to start my own business only to… (you guessed it) burn out again.

In order to break free from introvert burnout, I had to:

  • I did the work to understand my triggers. 
  • I had to unlearn the beliefs and narratives that were harming me. 
  • I built the habit of daily engaged rest. 
  • I redesigned my daily experience to protect my energy levels.

Only then was I able to break free from burn out.

My journey out of burnout was not straightforward, but I am now much more skilled at:

  • Managing stressors and triggers on a daily basis
  • Committing to daily engaged rest
  • Identifying when I’m reverting to old behaviors, habits, and patterns
  • Knowing how to reset when I start sliding toward introvert hangover or burnout

In terms of strategies, tactics, and tools to overcome introvert burnout, I relied on many.

Now I’m on a mission to teach other introverted people everything I know.

Read part two of this article:

How to Recover from Introvert Burnout

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