Survive the Winter Holiday Season with Hygge
Updated: Oct 2, 2018
By: Rebecca Ramdeholl, CHNC
Apparently, acknowledging and nurturing the feeling of contentment in the simplicity of life is the hottest trend of 2017, and probably 2018. All these years, I never knew we had a name for this feeling of coziness, but the Danes have got one for it. Hygge (pronounced hue-guh) is making quite the mark in society as more and more books and articles are coming out about the benefits of this ‘practice.’ I say ‘practice,’ because while for some of us, cultivating hygge is the easiest thing in the world, others actually have to stop and learn how to do this.
Comfort and protection are the two key elements of hygge. It’s a Danish word that most closely translates to “cozy”. In our North American society, stress is experienced on every level, across all demographics, from the elderly to the students, from mothers to children, work-related to home-related, refugees and immigrants, and all ethnicities. It’s no wonder that the concept of hygge is being embraced with such abandon. Protection from stress, and much needed comfort, is what everyone is looking for.
My soul always searched for hygge, and there were many times when hygge found me. I recall driving down a long, unlit road through farm fields on my way home one night, and there was a slight wind outside. The moon was so full that the fields were alight. Clouds streaked the moon, giving it an eerie and ghostly appearance. My heart was content as I appreciated the beauty that unfolded before me….and all this, just driving in the car. This feeling of searching out simplicity and appreciating the stillness of it does wonders for one’s mental health. In a world that is always on the go, we need to slow down, find ways to soothe our frazzled nerves and worries. We need to slow down and enjoy and utilize our instincts to nest, to cook, to create, and to nurture. There are many studies that prove that slowing down and taking note of your surroundings, and just being mindful, has many benefits for your mental health. I find that, as we let go of crazy self-expectations, the universe does conspire to make your life easier and more pleasurable.
Remember those moments when you were a kid, like coming in from the cold into a nice smelling, warm kitchen? Or when you’re wrapped up in a robe after a bath, and Mom’s snuggling you before she dries your hair? What about just sitting in a dim room, and there was a candle on the table, and you kind of zoned out? These are all examples of hygge. These moments make winter living more bearable, especially in places where cold weather and snow is experienced for way too long. When my kids are home and have no place to be in the evenings, they inevitably end up on their devices and gadgets. But then, when I add a little background music, get a pot of broth simmering on the stove, and put the fire on, little by little my children start to experience hygge and start practicing it on their own by asking for hot chocolate, the long sweaters and knee-highs make an appearance, the little one ends up in pyjamas hours before bedtime, and the crayons come out.
As the season of darkness and cold descends upon us, we instinctively long to hibernate. We are meant to slow down, to take deeper breaths, sleep more, dream and ignite creative fires within. This is the season when dreams and goals start to develop as we start to long for the Spring. Use hygge to help your mind slow, to de-stress, and find simplicity and peace in just being alive.
I’m off to make my favorite tea again in my favorite mug because there’s a blizzard outside my window, and I can feel the stirrings of my quill again. Today, I will appreciate what I have, I will slow down, and I will let my demons and anxiety have a nice nap while my eyes glaze over from the beauty of the outside. Maybe tomorrow I won’t feel that way. But today, my spirit is happy and full of hygge.
How do you experience hygge?
Referenceshttp://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2929.2005.02176.x/full - Accessed December 12, 2017https://www.wmhi.com.au/mental-health/tips/hygge-in-the-workplace/ - Accessed December 12, 2017http://www.jstor.org/stable/40967597?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents – Accessed December 12, 2017http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13557858.2017.1313964 - Accessed December 12, 2017Pumariega, A.J., Rothe, E. & Pumariega, J.B. Community Ment Health J (2005) 41: 581. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-005-6363-1