Many of us dread the cold, dark winter months, however in order to maintain overall wellness, embracing this season for all that it’s worth is crucial. With this said, the next time you find yourself grumbling about feelings of cabin fever and chilly weather, take a few minutes to think of Denmark. Geographically, this country is prone to long, difficult winters. Their days include few hours of sunlight. It rains about half the time, but the Danish disposition remains a sunny one!
Believe it or not, over the last forty years the Danes have consistently topped the polls as the happiest people on earth. One way the Danes remain positive even through these long, gloomy days is with a mindset that involves embracing the unique aspects of the winter months. Enter the Danish concept of “hygge.”
What is Hygge? There is not a specific definition for hygge. Instead, think of it as a feeling, an experience, a sensation. It encompasses all things that are cozy, comfortable and restorative to the soul. It means creating a warm and happy atmosphere. It is about enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm amber glow of candlelight is considered hygge.
This charming and special feeling is a wonderful philosophy to live by – especially as we trek through the snow and ice with a frown upon our face. By bringing hygge into your life, you can completely transform your perception and realize that winter isn’t so terrible after all!
Here are a few ways to embrace hygge this season:
Treat Yourself: “The secret to hygge lies in paying attention to the rhythm of our daily lives,” says Louisa Thomsen Brits, author of “The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Living Well.” In addition, hygge is about being kind to yourself. When life gets busy, it’s important to take time to unwind. Embracing hygge is also about appreciating downtime. Be mindful of your needs and be sure to nourish your soul with a little self-pampering session each and everyday.
Be sure to check out the Sand Hills Community Wellness Center’s website to find the perfect class or workshop to register for that will benefit your mind, body and spirit this winter. A massage with one of our certified massage therapists, or a Reiki Level 1 session with Reiki Master, Ann Koenig is a great way to treat yourself, and embrace downtime! www.sandhillswellness.com
Light a candle: Lighting a candle is the fast track to hygge-ing and the first thing you should do to transform your atmosphere. It's impossible not to enjoy the warming glow of its flame and relaxing effects of the essential oils' aroma. If you’re not a fan of burning candles, there are many battery-operated candles, string lights, lamps, etc. that give the same calming effect. Warm-toned lighting of any kind is perfect for setting the hygge zone!
Fun Fact: Reports show that Danish residents each burn an average of 13 pounds of candles every year (the most of any country, by a landslide).
Stock up on blankets and pillows: Adding soft blankets and plush pillows is another great way to easily increase your home’s coziness. You can perhaps create a Zen corner or a nook in your home where you can cuddle up and get lost in a book or simply relax. Since you will be spending most of your time indoors this winter, keep your house clean, tidy, and as warm and inviting as possible.
Bring the outdoors in: Danes counteract the long Scandinavian winters by bringing elements from the outdoors inside. This could be anything made out of wood or natural items like twigs, nuts, plants, etc. The smell of fresh wood in the fireplace or pinecones décor will help you feel closer to nature, which will help to uplift your spirits.
Unplug from technology: Let’s face it; we live in a tech-world. Although it’s tempting to spend those long winter days in front of the TV, computer screen or cellphone, it’s important to put your device down as much as possible. Research by the University of Essex, UK, found that just the presence of a smartphone can negatively affect the closeness and connection you feel to your partner and loved ones and can lower the quality of face-to-face conversation – all things that are fundamental to hygge.
Host a dinner party: While Americans enjoy wining and dining at restaurants, the Danes love congregating in each other’s houses. Having a group of friends or family that you can invite over regularly helps to give you a sense of place and belonging. Sharing a meal together, playing board games, or just sitting around and chatting is a wonderful way to pass the time together. The secret to a hygge get together is to make it totally unpretentious. There’s no need to plan or prep for the gathering. Just some old-fashioned hospitality will do!
Live simply: the Danish are minimalists. Less is definitely more when it comes to everything. Only have things in your home that tell a story. Find joy in simple pleasures, such as sipping a warm tea, reading a good book, listening to your favorite album, or watching the snow come down outside the window while snuggling up under a cozy quilt.
If you want to stay cozy and happy this winter instead of shivering through the cold months, try embracing these hygge tips. By incorporating this Danish way of life into your living space, you’ll be sure maintain happiness, health and wellness all winter long!