Note: This is a guest post from Erica Layne of The Life On Purpose Movement.
I discovered minimalism when my kids were young and my house was full of hand-me-downs I didn’t like and baby gear we didn’t need.
In just a few years, I had gone from the wide open blocks of time and space so common in your early twenties to an apartment that felt like it was exploding with toys, strollers, furniture, clothes, and most notably, three tiny humans who operated on one speed—loud and crazy.
Overstimulated was the name of the game. And as an introvert and a highly sensitive person, I was feeling it.
The only place in our home that felt restful to me—the only spot where I could pull myself back together—was the window view from our master bed.
I’d lie on my side, watching tree branches sway in the wind on the other side of the window, and I’d gradually feel whole again. Like my nerves had been pulled back together.
Then I learned about minimalism and realized that I could bring more of that peace, that beautiful sense of stillness I got while looking out the window, into my home.
All I had to do was get rid of a lot of stuff. (Not the tiny humans, though. I kept them.)
Are YOU an Introvert?
Introversion is the tendency to be predominantly interested in your inner life, whereas extroverts are mainly interested in what’s outside the self.
But the most recognizable difference is where we draw our energy from. Introverts feel depleted after time spent with others and need time alone—solitude—in order to recharge. Extroverts get energy from being with others.
Highly Sensitive People, a term popularized by Elaine Aron in her book The Highly Sensitive Person, are easily overwhelmed by noise, texture, smells, busyness, and even their own thoughts. They’re often sensitive to physical discomfort, violence in media, and the emotions of others.
Not all introverts are highly sensitive people, and not all HSPs are introverts, but they do often correlate.
Do you see yourself in this description?
Why Minimalism Is Especially Good for Introverts
1. An introvert’s brain chemistry is uniquely suited for minimalism.
In her book The Introvert Advantage, psychologist Marti Olsen Laney wrote that extroverts are not as sensitive to the feel-good hormone of dopamine as introverts are, which means that extroverts typically need more stimulation to register the dopamine in their brain. This contrasts with introverts, who are more sensitive to dopamine and don’t need as much of it to get a sense of pleasure.
In that case, could anyone be more suited to a minimalist lifestyle than an introvert?
Those of us who land more on the introverted side of the spectrum don’t need another concert, another sports event, another shopping trip, another girls’ night out, or another weekend away to get pleasure in our lives.
We can feel happy in a life with loads of white space on the calendar and white space on our walls.
2. Introverts are especially susceptible to overwhelm, which minimalism reduces.
Though anyone can get overwhelmed, introverts are constantly juggling both the vitality of their inner world and the busyness of the outer world. This combination—layered with how difficult it can be to get recharge time—often pushes introverts to overwhelm and burnout.
A minimalist lifestyle, where everything from a person’s schedule to the number of belongings they own has been reduced, is a perfect solution. Less clutter on the inside and the outside means less overwhelm in your daily life.
3. Introverts need a restful environment in order to recharge.
I had to get my blood drawn recently, and as I sat in the waiting room, I noticed how calm I felt despite the fact that I was about to get a needle pushed into my vein.
The waiting room was sparsely decorated, with just a couple of forest prints hanging on the walls and a single window bathing the room in natural light.
While I definitely wouldn’t choose the style of a medical office for my own home, I could see how it worked. My mind felt still, without a lot of stimulation to keep it bouncing from one thing to another.
Now that I’m more than ten years into a minimalist lifestyle, I immediately recognize and deeply appreciate any environment that allows my mind to slow down, and it’s been an unexpected joy to create that stillness in my own home by paring back our belongings and being intentional about the things that surround my family day to day.
Introverts (or extroverts who love an introvert!): What have YOU noticed about the connection between minimalism and your introversion? Has moving toward minimalism helped you feel more comfortable in your (introverted) skin?
Erica Layne is a podcast host, mom of three, bestselling author of The Minimalist Way, and founder of The Life On Purpose Movement. She helps women build their lives on what they value most, so they can let the rest slip away—guilt-free. Connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.