Being an introvert in a stressful, sometimes vexing world isn’t easy. We need time to refresh and recharge, even when it seems like no time or place is available to us to do just that. This is where the restorative niche comes in. When you have restorative niches, you can always create a space and carve out time for yourself.
What is a Restorative Niche?
The term restorative niche, created by Dr. Brian Little, a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, refers to the place that you can go to recharge and return to your true self. It’s where you go to get away from the stimulation, the noise, and the demands of socializing. It doesn’t have to be an actual physical place, but a place that you go within your mind to find calm and quiet that will leave you feeling renewed.
A restorative niche can be as simple as sitting down to read a chapter in a book, taking a walk through a park, or writing a letter to a beloved but far-away friend. Susan Cain expanded on restorative niches in her book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” She believes that an introvert should have as many restorative niches as possible throughout each day.
How Restorative Niches Help Introverts
Introverts can find socializing to be very draining, even when it’s in a familiar setting, like school or work. Those moments of retreating to a space of quiet comfort can make daily life more manageable. That’s why restorative niches can be so powerful for an introvert. They allow you to have a quiet break during the day to recharge and refresh.
When introverts discover their restorative niches, the positive impact can be felt almost immediately. Having that brief time for renewal is so energizing, and you’ll come to find that it reinvigorates your spirit.
What makes restorative niches so accessible is that the time commitment is minimal, and you can create them just about anywhere. We aren’t talking about taking an entire day or even a few consecutive hours to recharge. Restorative niches are short breaks that you tuck into your daily schedule. You can enjoy them on your lunch or dinner break, or in between the tasks you tackle around your home.
A restorative niche can be as simple as sitting down to read a chapter in a book, taking a walk through a park, or writing a letter to a beloved but far-away friend.
Creating Restorative Niches at Home
As an introvert, you probably already feel a real sense of calm and comfort when you’re at home. Home should be the place where you kick back and unwind. Unfortunately, the distractions and duties of daily life can still get in the way of feeling truly relaxed. When you create restorative niches at home, they’ll provide you with a warm feeling of contentment. Here’s how to go about finding and creating your own restorative niches:
Make a list of ideas
The first step is figuring out what it is that makes you feel the most like your true self. Not every introvert will find the same activities to be rejuvenating and refreshing. Think about when you feel the most alive and the most invigorated.
Brainstorm a list by asking yourself what activities you enjoy that truly leave you feeling restored. Which ones leave you with a sense of peace and calm? They shouldn’t be elaborate and involved, but rather simple things that you can and do enjoy doing daily, or every so often.
Here are just a few ideas for a restorative niche that you may have on your list:
- Reading from a book of favorite poems
- Taking a walk alone around the neighborhood
- Savoring a warm cup of coffee or tea in a quiet spot
- Doodling on a blank piece of paper or drawing in a sketchbook
- Solving a Sudoku or crossword puzzle
- Meditating or practicing mindful breathing
- Listening to the birds singing in your yard
All of these examples are simple but could be exactly what you need when you retreat from the demands of daily life.
Find a favorite spot to settle in
Find a place in your home that you can turn into a favorite retreat. It could be a comfortable chair by the fireplace or a warm spot next to a sunny window. It could be in the corner of your living room, or at the kitchen table. It may even be a room that you’ve taken the time to transform into your own personal sanctuary, like a bedroom or a den.
It also doesn’t have to be indoors, as you could find the fresh air right outside of your home to be what brings you contentment. Gardening can be soothing, so one of your restorative niches could be simply sitting out among the flowers in your yard, or weeding your flowerbeds. Wherever it is, just be sure that it’s a place that puts you at ease in every sense.
Step away from work obligations
If you work at home, step away from the computer. Try to separate yourself from your work environment when you take time for your restorative niche. It can help you clear your mind and keep the distraction of your to-do list at bay. Retreat to your favorite space that you’ve set up to accommodate your restorative niche, whether it’s a comfortable chair, a dimly lit room, or your dining room table.
Sometimes it isn’t possible or even necessary to leave your work, and that’s fine too. Choosing to respond to emails rather than making phone calls can be a restorative niche, allowing you to feel productive on multiple fronts. Perhaps you’ve already made your home office a cozy and comfortable space to spend time in. In that case, simply light a candle or switch off the computer. If it helps you to focus on yourself and to enjoy the quiet, it can be restorative.
Schedule time for your restorative niche
Whether you work at home, stay at home, or only get a few hours at home each day, you might find it helpful to schedule in time for your restorative niches. Take just 10 or 15 minutes every few hours to act with intention in the quiet of your home. For an introvert, the benefits can be invaluable.
Susan Cain believes that the more restorative niches you can create in your daily life, the better. Making time for them in your schedule will give you something to look forward to. It can give you a sense of calm just knowing that you’ve made it a priority.
Your home is your place to find sanctuary, to retreat from the chaos and the noise of the outside world. Create restorative niches at home with an emphasis on physical comfort, and you’ll experience the emotional comfort they’ll provide, as well. You’ll emerge with a renewed energy to take on the demands of the day.