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Let me be honest with you. Winter has always been my least favorite time of the year. I absolutely LOVE the holidays. But once I’m into the new year, the darker, longer days and cold always leave me feeling “blah” and tired. Several years ago I learned about the Danish and Norwegian concepts of hygge. It has become more popular in recent years. But what is it, and how can you incorporate it into your life this winter?
What is hygge?
Hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah”) can be loosely translated as “coziness”. It is a simple way of living and something that can be practiced year-round. But it is now associated with the colder winter months. Hygge is about enjoying the good things in life. It’s about slowing down and enjoying time with those you care about. And creating a warm atmosphere in your environment.
I first discovered the concept of hygge in the musical version of the movie Frozen. The character Oaken even sings a song about it and gives a definition.
10 ways to practice hygge
Less screen time
For most people the first thing they do in the morning and the last thing they do at night is look at their smartphone. Many consider their phone to be their most important possession. And many people feel a sense of panic if they are separated from their phones. Technology can be great, but our dependence on it and constant connection digitally can leave us disconnected from ourselves and others. Less screen time allows you to be present at the moment.
More connection with others
Hygge is about connection. But not the digital kind. It is about spending quality time with those you care about. Having a movie night with your family, going for a walk in nature with your partner, or sitting and having a conversation over coffee with friends are all important parts of practicing hygge. Slowing down and connecting on a personal level is vital to living a life of purpose. And spending that time with others is great for your mental health as well.
Seasonally, winter is a time when the body calls for warm, dense foods. Root vegetables are in season during this time. And so filling your belly with wonderful warm soups, stews, and casseroles can be very comforting. If possible, make your meal from scratch. Use whole, real food ingredients. This is a great time of year for long, slow cooked meals. I love using my slow cooker to make soups and stews this time of year.
Lots of Warm Blankets
One of my personal favorite things to do during the winter months is to snuggle under a nice, soft, warm blanket. I keep a basket full of them next to my couch. The softer, the better. They are the epitome of cozy!
Being an empath, I’m usually not one for lots of loud music. It can become overwhelming pretty quickly. When practicing hygge, some nice, soft music can be a great part! Find music that makes you smile and that makes you feel good!
There is something soothing about soft lighting. I am very sensitive to harsh lights. I think it’s why I love the holidays so much. I spend a lot of time with the main lights off, just enjoying the soft colorful lights of my Christmas tree. I always miss it so much when it’s time for the decorations to come down. So a few years ago, I decided to keep the tree up and decorate it for different holidays instead. I also have white fairy lights throughout my living room. Candlelight also works very well for ambiance. The soft white glow makes it feel cozy and magical in the house all year round!
Bringing nature indoors
I love using things from nature to decorate this time of year. I use lots of pinecones and pine branches. And of course having plants in the house is beneficial as well. Natural elements are very soothing.
It’s great to snuggle up with a warm beverage during cold days. Cocoa, teas, and hot cider or mulled wine are a few options. I love a good decaffeinated chai latte during the winter months. The mixture of seasonings is very warming to the body and it tastes amazing!
Get out in nature
When the weather allows it, spend time outdoors when you can. Whether it’s taking a walk through the snowy woods with your family, or participating in a winter sport with friends, time outside in nature should always be a part of your hygge practice.
Focus on Simplicity
In winter, nature slows down. Practicing hygge is our time to reflect nature and slow down as well. So focus on simple things. Don’t pack your calendar full of events or obligations. Take time to be still, to meditate, or read. Turn off the television, grab a cup of cocoa, throw on a pair of fuzzy warm socks and a warm blanket and have a conversation with someone you care about.
The whole idea behind hygge is to slow down and focus on what’s most important…connecting to family, friends, nature and yourself. To let go of the hustle and bustle of life and spend more time being and less time doing. Hygge is good to practice any time of year. But for me, it has made my winters much, much better!