Mental Health

Social Battery Meaning: What Actually Is a Social Battery?

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It took me a long time to realize that I'm not actually an extrovert.

In high school, in college, and even into my 20s, I thought had to act a certain way to fit in.

I tried to make others laugh so that they would like me.

I felt the need to accept all invitations and never miss out on a social opportunity.

But something changed as I got to know myself better through mindfulness activities such as meditation and writing down my thoughts.

I started to understand the concept of a social battery.

I'm excited to share with you what that means, how to know if you need to pay special attention to it, and how to keep your battery fully charged.

Social Battery Meaning (Drawing From My Life Experience)

You know what a battery is.

It's something you put in electronic devices to get them to work.

When the battery is charged, the devices work well.

When it's not, they don't work at all.

Now take that concept of a battery and apply it to a human being navigating social situations.

For sensitive people like me, there is a draining effect that happens after some--but not all--social settings.

Empath / Introvert triggers are very real.

Typically, the more social situations I'm in throughout the day, the more emotionally and physically exhausted I become.

But notice that I said not all social situations cause this.

As an ambivert, which is someone who is in between being an extrovert and introvert, I know now that I crave meaningful social interactions.

For instance, in my work as a social worker, I've helped people process traumatic experiences, and I've heard stories that would make most people's skin crawl.

Amazingly, these interactions don't drain me--they either maintain my energy levels or recharge them.

To give you a better idea of what I mean, these kinds of situations fuel my social battery:

  • Hanging out with my wife
  • Talking with a family member or friend who knows me well
  • Having conversations about something I'm passionate about, such as mental health, reading, writing, or technology
  • Spending time in nature with anyone
  • Being part of a group discussion about a mentally stimulating topic

These situations replenish my social energy, but it might not be the same for you. People, and their social batteries, come in all shapes and sizes.

Maybe you don't need to recharge as frequently as I do.

In that case, your social battery defaults to full, and this probably means you're closer to an extrovert on the introversion-extroversion spectrum.

How to Know If You Need to Be Mindful of Your Social Battery and Social Life

Since your social battery is a metaphor and not an actual object, the ways in which you understand it will be subjective, not a literal reality.

But if any of the following statements resonate with you, it's likely that you are more an introvert than an extrovert and need to be mindful of your social battery.

1. You feel drained after a day with lots of social activities

If you find that, after having participated in multiple social activities in one day, you feel completely wiped out, it's likely a social-battery issue.

2. You don't feel the need to be around people every day and make time for solitary activities

Some people just don't need to be around others all the time.

I'm one of them, and I really came to understand how little people time I truly need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I didn't mind staying at home all the time unlike true extroverts I know, who complained that they were losing their mind without human interaction all of the time.

3. You particularly enjoy quiet time

For some people, quiet time is synonymous with BORING.

But for people who have to be careful with their social battery, a time of peace and quiet can feel luxurious.

If you feel energized when you have quiet time, you're probably an introverted person--and possibly a highly sensitive person as well.

I know I am.

Ambulance sirens and stadium-sized crowds leave me feeling on edge if I'm exposed to them for too long.

4. You don't understand how extroverted people can like social events where they don't know anyone

If you've ever wondered, "How does that person do that?" or "How can they enjoy meeting all those new people?" you're probably a person who has to take good care of your social battery.

5. You only get social energy from a small group of people (Quality over quantity)

For social-battery-sensitive people, it's about quality, not quantity.

If you'd rather maintain a few intimate relationships than have loads of acquaintances such as mediocre, situational friendships, then you know you have to be careful to protect your energy levels.

How to Recharge Your Battery or Prevent It From Being Drained

Simply knowing what a social battery is doesn't help very much if you're constantly feeling drained after spending time with people.

Here are a few ways you can charge your social battery, which, if we're being honest, is also really an emotional battery and a physical battery,

1. Give yourself social breaks for a certain period of time

It's OK to give yourself breaks.

In fact, it's expected if you're going to live a happy, fulfilled life.

Schedule these breaks into your calendar if you need to.

I literally have blocks scheduled in my Google calendar to take a break between 12:45-1:45 every day by going for a walk or reading a book.

That way, nothing can get accidentally scheduled over my precious, recharging time.

2. Track the events that seriously deplete your social energy--and start to avoid them

Have you noticed that you're feeling mentally or emotionally drained and you can't explain it? 

Start to carry a notebook around with you. The moment you start to feel your battery depleting, write down what you were doing for the last hour or so.

This simple-tracking technique is surprisingly powerful and can lead to insights you never would have uncovered without it.

3.  If you're feeling drained no matter what you do, consider going to therapy or finding some other therapeutic resource

There's no shame in seeing a therapist, and the fact that you're drained all the time might be a sign something is wrong at a deeper level.

See my mental-health-resources page here, visit to search for therapists near you, check with your insurance for in-network providers, or, if you don't have insurance, check out a site like Better Help, which is one of the top online-therapy providers.

Finally, here's a breakdown of top online-therapy providers I found really useful. 

4. Ask an introvert how they manage their energy

Who better to ask for help than a fellow introvert who also deals with social-battery issues?

You know a sensitive type by the way they are mindful of the words they use and the intention with which they approach their life.

Find someone you respect for how they manage their energy, and then ask them something like this:

  • How do you maintain your energy levels and keep a balanced life?
  • How do you structure your day so that you don't feel drained?
  • Do you have certain practices or rituals you use to stay energized throughout the week?

5. Cover the basics: sleep, food, and physical activity

This is so important.

If you're not meeting your basic needs, you will never be able to keep your battery charged.

Practicing good sleep hygiene is essential.

Try to eat whole foods if you can.

And do whatever you can to build a physical-activity habit into your life.

For Good Mental Health, Especially for Sensitive People, Remember to Keep Your Battery Charged

Just because your social battery is not a tangible thing you can see or touch, it doesn't mean that it's not something you can feel.

It's well worth the time it takes to set up simple practices that maintain your social-battery levels.

By now you should know if you are a person who needs to take this seriously.

First, assess how your energy has been lately.

Then, decide if you need to do something about it.

Maybe just bring up the concept of the social battery in conversation and see what others think about it.

After all, "social" is built right into the term, and you might get some surprising reactions from others who are struggling with the same thing.

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