Braider Lauren Laws is a local practitioner of Hygge, which is something that can come in handy during the dreary winter season. Read on to learn about how Hygge can make winter life a little better.
According to Denmark Tourism, “Hygge actually comes from a Norwegian word meaning "well-being." It first appeared in Danish writing in the 18th century and has been embraced by the Danes ever since! Hygge is a tricky word to define, it's a feeling, an experience, a sensation. It means creating a warm atmosphere. It is enjoying the good things in life with good people.”
I am not Danish, but I love to be cozy so if you follow with me I will teach you Hygge according to me. Winter can be rough. It can make you clinically SAD or just plain bummed out. But embracing Hygge means that dark doesn’t have to be dreary and cold doesn’t have to be miserable.
I first noticed this when I spent a few days in Hungary in the winter. It was cold. Very cold. And it got dark (and colder) at 4pm. If you braved the cold and went outside there were meat and potatoes you could buy on just about any corner and big furry hats at local markets to keep you warm. Hot drinks were available and people were outside enjoying themselves.
In American culture we may look at Hygge as how we act around Christmas. At Christmastime we drink hot cocoa and watching fuzzy-feeling Hallmark movies. We have friends over for food and dessert and don’t count calories. We light candles and put up Christmas lights. Do yourself a favor and turn off your harsh overhead lighting in favor of candles (real or fake, no judgment here), lamps, Christmas lights, or a fire.
If you don't have a real fire you can look one up on Netflix or YouTube and play it off your laptop. It surprisingly has a similar effect even without the warmth. Himalayan salt lamps are not only trendy but give off the same glow as a fire.
The real winter blues usually come after Christmas when we pack up all the coziness, stop watching movies and listening to jazzy music, and get on with our lives. Even worse, we tend to make impossible goals for ourselves and watch awards shows. Comfort and joy shouldn’t stop after the Christmas season ends, especially as we try and navigate the frozen months of January and February.
When you wake up take a few moments before you start working to enjoy some tea or your morning beverage of choice. Hold a mug in your hands and only focus on the one thing at hand (bad pun intended).
After work take time to appreciate something as monotonous as making dinner. When it gets dark at 5pm it’s easy to want to just give up after the work day. Making a meal gives us an opportunity to appreciate the smells, tastes, and touch of the ingredients. We can refocus our senses if we pay attention to what we’re experiencing. The daily drudgery can become a joy and an art form if we simply take a few moments to enjoy it.
Sometimes when we get in a slump or funk it seems like the only way out is to make a drastic life change or go on a vacation to Hawaii. But a cheaper and simpler way is to learn to love the everyday tasks and see the moments of beauty in simple, everyday things. This is a habit that we can repeat every day. We can find comfort in rituals. It’s a sustainable way to be happy.
You can also find something that you like that you can only do during the winter, whether it’s skiing, wearing giant sweaters, or walking outside without sweating. Focus on the positive things about winter.
Hygge isn’t just about candles and socks. I listed several things that are Hygge to me, but remember it’s a feeling not a checklist. You may cultivate this feeling differently than I do because Hygge is about being happy. It’s about appreciation for the moments in our lives even in settings that aren’t ideal. It’s about loving the people around us. It’s about embracing and finding light and comfort even on the darkest and coldest nights. It’s a state of mind we can take with us when we face our personal, metaphorical winters and dark nights. During difficult times (whether they happen in winter or not) we can create our own warmth and embrace the changing seasons in our lives.
How do you keep cozy during the winter months? Tell us about it in the comments. Happy Hygge-ing!
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