What Is a Social Hangover and What Can You Do About It?

Do you have a bustling social agenda? Do you find yourself exhausted after meeting with so many other people? You might have a social hangover. Learn what this is and what you can do about it here.
What Is a Social Hangover and What Can You Do About It?
Maria Fatima Seppi Vinuales

Written and verified by the psychologist Maria Fatima Seppi Vinuales.

Last update: 15 May, 2023

The term “social hangover” became more popular during the post-pandemic period. Since we spent so much time in lockdown, once visits and activities began to be allowed again, many people sought to make up for lost time.

Plans with family, with friends, and with office mates abounded…without rest, without pause, day after day. This wa not without consequences, of course. In fact, many people found themselves saying things at exemplified them quite well: “I can’t get out of bed. My energy is sapped. I’m beat.”

This is the core of the social hangover: the negative effects of ongoing social encounters without a break or rest. Let’s take a look at how to deal with it.

What is a social hangover?

A social hangover refers to physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion that creates a type of burnout caused by a succession of multiple meetings and social gatherings. In other words, it highlights the adverse or negative effects we experience after a very active social life.

What happens is that, when we meet other people, we bring into play multiple resources: cognitive, social, communicative, etc. We also use our bodies with movements, gestures, and tones of voice. So, it’s logical that, after an uninterrupted and almost marathon series of social engagements, we end up tired.

It’s important to clarify that a social hangover is not an official diagnosis. It’s simply a way of illustrating a real and common social phenomenon, but one that doesn’t appear in any kind of diagnostic manual. However, it’s true that it’s more frequent in certain cases: for example, in the case of people who are highly sensitive (HSP), and in those who are more naturally solitary or introverted.

Persona altamente sensible con resaca social.
People with heightened sensitivity may notice that social encounters wear them out more than others.

Signs of a social hangover

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

  • A loss of desire or interest in attending a place or meeting. This often happens after an initial event. Therefore, when the weekend comes around, we feel ourselves dragging the tiredness from the previous days’ meetings.
  • An inability to remain present. We want to be there, to keep an open ear and be receptive, but we can’t succeed. Instead, the question swirling around in our head is when it ends or when you will be able to go home. Here, we can also include difficulties concentrating.
  • Physical effects. This may include headaches, the feeling of hyperstimulation, choking, and dizziness. In some cases, we may experience a sore throat or loss of voice. This happens when we meet in crowded places with loud music, where we need to speak louder and louder.
  • Mood changes, including irritability and a desire to be alone.
  • Difficulty stopping. You may be exhausted, but your brain is still running at a mile a minute. What happens is that it becomes difficult to return to a state of rest. You may even experience sleep disturbances.

We think you may also enjoy reading this article: This is What Science Says About People Who Enjoy Alone Time

What to do when you have a social hangover

Now let’s go over some tips to avoid falling into a social hangover. These are simple measures that can help you if you find yourself going through this situation.

Learn to say “no”

With sensitivity and assertiveness, you can simply your situation explain to the other person, how you feel, and decline the invitation. This is healthy selfishness, in which self-care takes precedence. Now, you can also think of making a counter-proposal as a way of showing interest: “How about, instead of seeing each other this week, we meet next Wednesday? I’ll have more free time then.”

Prioritize quality over quantity 

Think about the genuineness of the meeting instead of the commitment. Remember: it’s better to postpone the event and be fully present and to opt for quality over quantity.

Suggest other ways of meeting

A typical time to overschedule is the end of the year. December begins with toasts, farewells, and closing meetings.

The truth is that between December 31 and January 1 of the following year, the only thing that changes is the number. It isn’t necessary to go crazy and force meetings during the last 2 weeks of the year.

Instead, plan more relaxed meetings and spread them out. Your body and your bonds will thank you.

Consider a break as a plan in itself

It’s not a question of rest happening in the time we have to spare. On the contrary, we should generate our own time to relax, clear our minds, and truly connect with ourselves.

Descanso de la resaca social.
Rest is not a waste of time. Sometimes, it’s the best and only way to regain our energy to resume social contact.

Fight your ghosts and insecurities

Remember: no one will stop loving us or stop being part of our lives just because we don’t go to a certain meeting or event. At least, this doesn’t happen in secure and respectful bonds in which we’re able to understand the other person without taking it personally.

Along these lines, we must also face FOMO (fear of missing out). This is the fear and anxiety that lead us to always accept invitations, believing that if we don’t go, we will be missing out on something important.

Like this article? You may also like to read: We All Need Alone Time: The Real Benefits of Solitude

Rethink your social agenda

Is it wrong to meet with friends, celebrate with a few, and have lunch with others? Not at all!

What is detrimental is doing this to the extreme and not allowing yourself breaks or pauses. Not understanding our body’s warning signals and trying to please everyone isn’t healthy.

It’s all a matter of self-care. Postponing or canceling social events is a way to care for your relationship with the other person and is even a sign of respect. After all, no one should have to spend time with someone who’s socially burned out. Therefore, let’s ensure our social meetings are a reason for sharing and joy, not a mere agenda checklist.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Soriano-Sánchez, J. G. (2022).Factores psicológicos y consecuencias del Síndrome Fear of
    Missing: Una Revisión Sistemática. Revista de Psicología y Educación, 17(1), 69-78, https://
  • Patlán Pérez, Juana (2013). Efecto del burnout y la sobrecarga en la calidad de vida en el trabajo. Estudios Gerenciales, 29(129),445-455.[fecha de Consulta 13 de Septiembre de 2022]. ISSN: 0123-5923. Disponible en: https://www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=21230026007

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.