16 things introverts find mentally draining, according to psychology

As an introvert, I get zapped very easily.

It’s just part of our stimulus-sensitive hardwiring, but not everyone gets that.

We’re not lazy and we’re definitely not anti-social. It’s just that the special way our brains process information can leave us feeling mentally exhausted.

Let’s take a look at the things that extroverts find effortless, but that quickly drain an introvert’s battery.

1) Making polite small talk with strangers

As introverts, we accept there are polite social codes of conduct, and small talk is part of that. But all the same, we really struggle with it.

That’s because we favor depth when it comes to conversation. So when we’re asked to keep it light, it’s harder for us to find something interesting to say.

That combined with the fact it’s usually someone we don’t know very well that we’re having to talk to — it quickly becomes our least favorite thing to do.

Psychologist Laurie Helgoe says introverts simply crave meaning and stimulation from their social exchanges:

“Introverts do not hate small talk because we dislike people. We hate small talk because we hate the barrier it creates between people.”

Discussing the weather or making superficial commentary about your day can feel fake and inauthentic to introverts.

2) Chatting on the phone

Unless it’s an emergency, please don’t call us.

Introverts much prefer texting for many reasons.

  • It’s less pressure on us as we don’t have to respond straight away
  • We don’t enjoy being interrupted from whatever it is we’re doing
  • Awkward silences on the phone feel twice as cringe than they do in person
  • We feel performance anxiety when we’re put on the spot
  • We’re worried someone will ask us something that we need to think about first before replying
  • We don’t want to chat just for the sake of it

In short: a whole catalogue of reasons means introverts would rather have their conversations face-to-face.

3) Group chats

Having just said that we prefer text over calls, what’s wrong with group chats?


They are like texting on speed.

You can quickly become inundated by dozens of messages that you have little interest in keeping up with or contributing to.

Let’s be honest, there is never anything profound said in a group chat. It’s essentially the small talk of the online world.

We’ve already established how introverts feel about that. So we feel like we are getting drawn into pointless chit-chat at home.

The icing on the cake is the fact that you can’t leave the group slyly without everyone seeing you’ve removed yourself.

This keeps us prisoners for fear of looking rude and anti-social.

4) A busy schedule

Extroverts are often labeled the fun ones, whilst introverts can be mistakenly seen as boring.

Yet that couldn’t be further from the truth.

My mom always used to say only boring people get bored, and that’s sort of the motto of an introvert.

Psychology says that because of the way we’re hardwired we find low-key activities stimulating.

Basically, we process dopamine—the reward hormone— differently from extroverts.

So we get a kick out of the little stuff, but can quickly become overwhelmed by too much activity.

5) Bustling spaces

introverts thrive in social situations 16 things introverts find mentally draining, according to psychology

Psychology tells us that introverts have longer neural pathways.

So whilst extroverts take a straight line, introverts are more winding.

This means it takes us longer to absorb things in our environment.

That can become a one-way ticket to overstimulation.

In a busy and crowded place there is just so much going on, so we find it hard to concentrate.

All the non-stop stimulus becomes too much. Part of that includes the noise, as we’ll see next.

6) Too much noise

Living in the city, noise is an unavoidable hazard for me.

It’s one that I struggle with. I have to wear earplugs whenever I walk around, as well as to sleep.

Whilst that may sound extreme to some, the traffic, sirens, and general bustle around is too much for my nervous system to handle.

We’re not being awkward, studies have shown that introverts find noisy environments harder to deal with.

7) Juggling too many tasks at once

Multi-tasking is often mistakenly viewed as a skill.

Yet the reality is that we’re not built to tackle lots of things at once, especially introverts.

The quality goes down the more we take on, so it makes you less productive not more.

Experts argue it’s far better to do one thing at a time. 

Introverts find it more challenging to multitask as apparently, our brains aren’t as good at juggling competing bits of incoming information.

8) Not spending enough time alone

Alone time is where an introvert recharges.

It’s our space to reflect and re-energize to face the world again.

Clinical psychologist Ken Fung argues we are all so busy doing that we often forget the need to just be. He says we all actually need this quiet time to allow our brains to switch off.

“The very much overlooked ‘being’ mode helps us to be aware of what is happening in the present moment, and this involves spending time alone so that we can connect to our thoughts and our emotions. Everyone needs this … whether they are introverts or extroverts.”

9) Networking

Networking can feel like making small talk for professional reasons rather than just social.

Yet it’s even worse because we’re being asked to self-promote. It can feel like an exposing task and so we find it mentally draining.

Yet there’s no denying the benefits networking can offer.

Writing in Forbes, Goldie Chan says we should try to reframe our mindset towards it so that it feels more meaningful.

“Introverts shouldn’t view networking as an obstacle, but as an opportunity. It’s an opportunity for you to provide value and make an impact.”

10) Their deepest feelings and thoughts

Yes, we love our alone time, but it’s not always so refreshing. Especially when we struggle to switch off the monkey mind.

There are lots of benefits to being introverted, but research has shown that we are more vulnerable to mental health struggles.

Counsellor Lin Sternlicht says all that extra brain activity can become problematic.

“Introverts are often great thinkers and very creative, it can also be a weakness as they may overthink certain feelings and emotions. Overthinking, especially in relation to negative thoughts, compounded by harboring such thoughts due to social seclusion, can lead introverts to trap their emotions.”

11) Trying to fit in with extroverts

For many introverts, one of the most draining things to deal with is society’s unfair expectations of them.

Even though it’s estimated anywhere from 25% to 40% of people are introverted, it’s still an extroverted world.

Feeling like you have to constantly explain and excuse yourself is tiring. So is feeling like you have to try to be more extroverted in order to fit in.

It loads on unnecessary pressure as we end up feeling guilty or wrong for the way our brain works.

Sadly, that’s from a general misunderstanding that introversion isn’t a lifestyle choice, it’s a biological difference.

12) Open plan offices

People who are naturally introverted but highly intelligent usually display these subtle behaviors 16 things introverts find mentally draining, according to psychology

I’m sure the architects behind the move had the very best of intentions.

Open-plan spaces were designed to be cost-effective, whilst increasing collaboration and cooperation in the workplace.

But the concept sucks for introverts, as author and lecturer Susan Cain explains in her best-selling book ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’.

“We came to value transparency and knock down walls – not only online but also in person. We failed to realise that what makes sense for the asynchronous, relatively anonymous interactions of the Internet might not work as well inside the face-to-face, politically charged, acoustically noisy confines of the open plan office.”

13) Huge parties

This essentially includes any sort of large gathering.

The reason why are many of the things we’ve already covered.

It involves having to meet new people and make small talk.

More people also means more noise, energy and information around us that can quickly overwhelm us.

14) Being thrust into the limelight

Introversion is often confused with being shy.

They’re not the same thing, yet it’s true that many introverts feel more socially uncomfortable in certain situations.

That’s especially the case when they leave their comfort zone.

When you’re asked to do anything on the spot, without time to practically and mentally prepare that can be more challenging to an introvert.

We need time to gather our thoughts and ideas and don’t welcome having the limelight suddenly thrust upon us.

15) Making new friends

For a long time, most of my social life came from an extroverted friend who sort of adopted me. 

I suspect many fellow introverts will relate, as creating strong connections isn’t as effortless for us.

Social scientist Kasley Killam says “Introverts tend to make friends more gradually, whereas extroverts are more likely to have ‘friends at first sight”.

We value close connections but we need time for those to blossom.

Putting the appropriate amount of energy into allowing relationships to grow can be quite draining.

16) Sticking to plans when you’re not in the mood

When it comes to canceling plans, introverts can be the worst offenders.

But hear me out:

When we make plans we have no way of knowing how much will be left of our social battery by the time it comes around.

We can also feel obliged to keep up with extroverts and so don’t want to turn invitations down.

Yet sometimes we need to bail to be by ourselves.

It’s okay to put your mental wellbeing first

Not everyone gets introvertion, but that’s okay.

What’s most important is to respect and honor your own needs. Don’t push yourself to be something you’re not.

Be mindful of social commitments and take the time you need to recharge. That way we can avoid becoming unnecessarily mentally drained.

Picture of Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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