“Hey, I am really sorry but I am going to have to cancel tonight.” If you have ever heard those words and breathed a desperate sigh of relief, then you need to check your social battery.
You hear the terms introvert and extrovert thrown around but how often do you check in on your capability to attend just one more party?
There are tens and hundreds of reasons you can be tired, burnt out or exhausted and each of them deserves your attention.
You hear about endurance from athletes and daily energy from the corporate world and you have numerous methods to recover. But what happens when the reason for fatigue comes from over-socializing?
You find yourself lethargic and listless and you just want to avoid all contact and be in your own space.
I am here to tell you that regardless of your personality, it is OK to take a breather from friends, coworkers, and yes even families!
However, to create that personal space, you should know when you have had enough. Fortunately, there are simple ways to check in on your social health that you can use today.
Once you master these tasks you will be better equipped to know when you had your fill of public or group events.
Before you tackle these methods, you must accept one reality.
It is OK for you to step back! In your fast-paced world, you feel pulled in seven directions every moment.
A friendly party, a voluntary work gathering or a get together can seem tantalizing until you discover you can take no more.
You can learn to set boundaries without isolating and it all begins with awareness. When you increase awareness and set boundaries, you will be more present and engaged in those events. Here are four ways you can start increasing your social battery awareness.
Attention is the first step in making a healthier you. In medicine, a doctor asks you to be alert to symptoms to know when emergency help is needed. In self-care, you also need to be alert to your personal redline. Imagine your desire and capability to socialize as a battery with a digital meter.
You wake up refreshed after having the weekend to yourself and the meter reads 100%.
You go to work on Monday and endure two office meetings. Tuesday night you have dinner with the neighbors.
Wednesday brings an office birthday party and Thursday and Friday are date night.
Saturday morning you are aching for alone time and your meter now reads 10%.
Our battery can be drained without our attention. Learning to read your meter is a vital skill.
Carry a pad or notebook, or use your cell phone notes to take stock of your battery. Begin with a set schedule of check-ins every when you wake up and every 4-6 hours until you prepare to sleep.
Write down your percentage at those intervals. Keep those check-ins and when your weekend arrives, see how fast your battery drained.
After getting accurate readings of your meter, add a second section for events that took place during those 4-6-hour periods.
On Monday, you wrote 100% at 6:30 AM and 80% at 12:30 after two office meetings.
Then continue that process until you figure out what drains your batteries rapidly and what seeps them at a slower rate. You will also learn what moments recharge your battery!
The true test of introvert versus extrovert is not in how you socialize but in how you recharge.
Regardless of labels, awareness exercises and reading your meter will give you a foundation on which you can build in self-care and moments for recovery.
Now that you have your smartphone or notebook full of ways to drain and recover your social batteries you are ready to see into the future and perfect scheduling.
Look at your next week and figure out how many draining events and recovery moments you have built into your week.
What do you think your battery will read on Saturday? If you think it will be 70% or above then you are doing it right.
If you see below 50% or much lower then you have some decisions to make.
Now act on those decisions. Figure out what you can discard and what is a necessity and make the tough choices.
Be honest with yourself and others. It is far easier to ask for a break in advance than to meet up with a friend only to yawn and discreetly check your watch throughout the night.
Balance your week by making some crucial cuts. If you are fatigued and that meeting can be rescheduled then reschedule it.
If you find two hours to recover and are in desperate need, make space for that time. Be selfish with your social battery because nobody else will do it for you!
You take time in the week for family, friends and work but today it the day you take time for you.
With these simple exercises, you will increase your alertness and awareness and learn to act to protect yourself from social burnout.
This is your opportunity to breath and it starts with a simple awareness plan.