Because introverts are sensitive to their physical environment, they need a calm and peaceful space to recharge their energy.
Introverts are no strangers to feeling overwhelmed, and those who are also highly sensitive are even more susceptible to sensory and emotional overload. While your home is supposed to be a place you can take refuge from the outside world, it sometimes presents its own challenges.
As an example, my house has four kids and two dogs. I love them dearly, yet I also need a break from them. At times, it feels like there’s noise and messes everywhere I turn. While my situation may be on the extreme end, our homes aren’t always the pristine sanctuaries we’d hope them to be.
Even when you can escape from people, your physical environment can have a big effect on whether you are able to get the restorative time that you need as an introvert. I’ve found that a practical solution is to have one dedicated space in your home where you can go to recover and rejuvenate before rejoining the world.
I call it the “introvert zen zone” — meaning, a space designed to be peaceful and calming. No matter what is happening outside this area, it allows me to have a small, predictable place in the world that was created specifically to comfort me. (You might even choose to spend time there preemptively to prepare for a social event or highly stimulating activity.)
I’ve even found myself visualizing my zen zone during a stressful time in order to help me relax and cope with the present situation. While you may not always be able to run to your zen zone the moment you need it, simply knowing it is there for you can bring a measure of comfort.
So how do you go about creating one? While you can follow some general design principles, you know yourself best, including what elements you’ll find most soothing. Its customized nature is what will give your space the power to unwind your tension and treat the worst introvert hangovers. Here are seven steps to get you started.
7 Steps to Create an Introvert Zen Zone in Your Home
1. Find an area of seclusion, whether it’s the corner of a room or an entire room.
To start, you’ll need to decide the best area in your home to set up your introvert zen zone. The bedroom is a common place (it’s where I have mine), but that isn’t the only option. You might have another room you’ve always loved — maybe an office or spare room where the sunlight comes in just right.
The main criterion is that this area be away from busy distractions. If your home’s space is limited, there are ways to get creative, such as setting up a cozy corner or using a physical barrier, such as curtains or a movable room divider.
The key is to make sure the space is private enough to get the introvert alone time you crave and need.
2. Set a vision for your space: How do you want it to feel?
Remember, there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to creating your introvert zen zone. You get to decide what elements are most beneficial to you. When beginning to design it, it’s helpful to set an intention for the space. In other words, how do you want it to feel?
Make a short list of adjectives that you want to best describe this area. You might choose words such as:
Consider creating a vision board to aid in the design process, too. Your vision board will have the adjectives you’ve chosen, along with colors and pictures that fit the mood you want to create. Look online or in magazines for inspiration, adding pictures to your vision board when they give you that warm-and-fuzzy feeling.
3. Embrace minimalism: Each item should have a purpose.
Though it can be tempting to fill your space with a stockpile of feel-good items, when combatting introvert overwhelm, the less-is-more principle usually applies (i.e., one candle is better than five). Having too many things in your zen zone can worsen feelings of anxiety because the area can easily feel unkempt. Each item should have a purpose and a place to live.
Again, personal preference plays a role, but clean, open spaces with less visual clutter can be quite soothing for many introverts and highly sensitive people.
4. Consider including a natural element, like sunlight.
Nature has powerful stress-relieving effects. Try to welcome the natural world into your introvert zen zone in whatever way you can.
A window nearby is a great option. If a view outside isn’t feasible, you might add some plants to your zone. Aside from being pretty to look at, research shows that they help purify the air and boost your mental health, too.
Or, you can opt for fake plants, photos of nature, and natural materials, like wood, to reap some of the same calming benefits.
5. Focus on the senses, like sounds and smells.
As part of the design process, carefully consider how your space will affect each of your senses. Your introvert zen zone is an area where your senses need to be soothed by their surroundings — the key word being “zen.” For instance, you should be able to practice mindfulness meditation there if you wish.
- Sound: If you’re anything like me, introvert overwhelm makes you want to drown out the world and all its noise. Have some options in your zen zone for doing just that — a white noise machine, a pair of comfortable noise-cancelling headphones, or a trickling water fountain. I use the White Noise app on my phone; it’s simple and effective. The Classical for Studying playlist on Pandora is another of my favorites when trying to relax.
- Smell: Scent and emotion are tightly linked. When in an anxious state, neutral odors can turn negative and further aggravate a stress response. Don’t let this happen — have some smell-good options in your zen zone. Lavender is my go-to calming scent; I have a lavender-scented eye pillow and an aromatherapy diffuser. (Lavender has also been proven to promote relaxation, as have other scents.) Other options include scented sprays, candles, and lotions, balms, or oils to apply to the skin.
- Sight: Give your introvert zen zone a soothing color palette. You don’t want the colors around you to be screaming at your neurons when you’re already in a heightened state. In general, you can’t go wrong with light neutrals. Your zen zone should also have soft, warm lighting (even better if it’s adjustable). It’s also essential that any mess be out of sight. You don’t want anything in your view that can remind you there are chores to be done. I know this can be challenging in my house. Baskets or a handy drawer or two can make a world of difference. If all else fails, an eye mask can block everything out for a bit.
- Touch: You’ll need a comfortable place to rest, be it a bed, chair, or cushions on the floor. Aside from that, think about textures that may be beneficial to you. Do you like softness next to your skin when feeling stressed? Then invest in the fuzziest of blankets. Does having something to fidget with help you relieve tension? Then look for textiles that have textural patterns. For those who benefit from deep-pressure input, consider a weighted blanket.
- Taste: I almost skipped over this sense, but it can play a role in helping you relax. Some hard candies or peppermints can remove unwanted tastes from your mouth and help reset your system’s senses, as well. You could also bring lightly flavored water or herbal tea into your zen zone. Flavors like mint and chamomile can also help lessen stress.
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6. Accessorize with tension busters, such as a picture that makes you smile.
Aside from setting up your introvert zen zone to soothe the senses, think about any other items that could help you unwind. You might include a picture that always makes you smile. When a friend of mine was going through chemotherapy, she kept a picture of a penguin with a peanut on its head at her bedside, because it brought her some levity in a most difficult situation. An anxiety-reducing affirmation can also be beneficial, such as “I exhale anxiety and inhale joy.” You can say this to yourself as often as you’d like, as well as have it on a nearby Post-it note.
Other ideas include a warming neck wrap to relieve muscle tension or a stress ball to squeeze. The idea is to have a few things at hand for you to use if you’d like (or need).
7. Maintain your introvert zen zone as you would any other part of your home.
Now that you’ve created this introvert haven, make sure it is always at the ready. Make it clear to others living in your home that this is your sacred space. You don’t want someone else usurping your zen zone after you’ve gone through all the trouble to create it. In my house, it’s the softest blankets that tend to go missing first.
Also, don’t let clutter creep into your zen zone. A cluttered space can rob you of your calm in an instant. Your mind will jump to tidying rather than being able to unwind and reset.
You’re Ready to Get Started
Are you excited to create your introvert zen zone? It doesn’t have to be perfect from the get-go. Starting with something is better than nothing.
It’s okay for your zen zone to be a work in progress. You can try things out and remove them if they don’t serve you. Likewise, add new items if you find something that helps you de-escalate from a hectic experience.
Practice going to your zen zone in times of introvert overwhelm and try calming strategies to get to a better state. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break as an introvert. Give your loved ones a signal that you’re OK, but need some alone time.
By putting energy into taking care of you, you’ll be better able to show up in the world as your amazing introverted self.
You can find more tips for creating calm in your life on my blog, StepstoSelf.com.
You might like:
- An Interior Designer Explains How to Create Your Own Introvert Bedroom Sanctuary
- For Introverts, Why Are Our Bedrooms Our Havens?
- 7 ‘Rules’ for Sensitive Introverts to Protect Their Energy
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