Tiny Living

Excess equals stress: tiny homes and mental health

When we get stressed, we want to simplify. Make less decisions, worry less, feel less behind. Do you recognize yourself in any of these statements?

“I felt like I was working so hard, just to get burned out and go shopping to buy new stuff to make myself feel better.”

“I had a regular house, but it felt huge to me. One living room on your main floor, one in the basement. Why do I need two living rooms? I felt like all I was doing was cleaning.”

“I had too much things, too many clothes, all things from years ago, and I kept getting more.”

Photo: Ben Kitchen

These are all feelings that current tiny home dwellers have shared with us, from their “before my tiny home” period. In fact, being “forced” to downsize their belongings when they moved into their tiny home was a very welcome  and positive experience for all of them.

In today’s “conventional” lifestyle, all we seem to do is buy, use, throw away, buy more, and want bigger and bigger homes thinking our lives would become easier if we did.

Tiny home dwellers realized that this lifestyle was making them sick, and they turned to something else.

Here, in their own words, is what that transformation means to them and how they maintain their minimal lifestyles.

“We just measure success differently. We’re not on the path of a pursuit of things. We don’t believe that you need a big space and a big home and all the things that fill it. We don’t need a basement to store things and a garage to park our car. In fact, when we walk into big houses now, we actually feel suffocated, because there’s just so much there. It’s funny, because people expect to feel that in a small space, rather than a large one.” Bianca, tiny home dweller in Ontario. Read her story.

“In our experience alone, we’ve thrown out around two-thirds of our clothes. Most random keepsakes that were kept around for decades also got tossed away. It’s freeing, having less to think about and less to potentially worry about.” Read this story.

“I didn’t have the stress of a mortgage or having to pay for so many things. Because you can get into this wheel of, “Oh, I need to buy stuff because buying more stuff will make me happy,” and you just go shopping on the weekends because you’re bored. I kind of turned all that around and realized that I don’t have to spend much. I really don’t spend a lot just to be happy.” Read her story.

“Anybody who knows me will tell you that I used to wear five-inch heels and red lipstick. Now I just wear my rain boots. I don’t wear makeup anymore. I’m really just 100% grounding. And I love it.” Read this story.

“Things don’t make you happy. It’s the people that you invest in, the time that you share with them and the time that you invest in yourself that’s going to make you happy. This desire for more things and comparison will only lead to envy and jealousy, and, I think, anxiety. I think a lot of anxiety as well.”

“[When I’m shopping], I think about, why do I want this? Is it because I truly have a need for it? Or is it maybe connected to envy, like I saw someone on social media in a beautiful room, and I want to be more like that. I have gone off social media because of that. You’re scrolling, you’re wasting a lot of time, and it’s just constant comparison.” Read her story.

“It’s an ongoing process. Even though, as an intentional minimalist, you try not to bring in new stuff. We still somehow accumulate a lot of stuff. It’s a conversation that we have to have on the regular. Recognizing, for example, that our shoe rack is getting a little full. We have specific places that things go and once that spot is full, it’s time to clear out.” Read this story.

“Everywhere I’ve ever lived has always had a dishwasher and 30-plus mugs to choose from. In our tiny home, we don’t have a dishwasher and we only have two mugs each. Thus, if I want another hot drink, I’m forced to wash the one I just drank from.” Read this story.

“Life now for me is very intentional. Being on 40 acres – we have an abundance of space. When you live in the mountains, nothing is small. Our home is packed with love – and I can honestly say I couldn’t imagine ever moving back to the city or having a home over 2000 sq ft.” Read this story.

Photo: Megan Lockhart

Maybe that’s what makes tiny homes so attractive – it’s not just how good they look, how cute they are, and how much money they can potentially save you. They also promise release from all of the old you, finally a time when you’ve figured out what you need and you have only that.

So, why wait to move into a tiny home, when you can start now?

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