As November approaches in Canada, that time of year between coloured leaves and sparkling snow, we prepare ourselves for the bleakness. To lessen the depressing effect of the damp chill that is coming, set yourself up for some good old-fashioned “Hygge” in your home.
The Danish cultural tradition of “Hygge” (pronounced “HOO-ga”) refers to the practice of gettin’ cozy. It’s about pulling ALL the pillows and blankets out of the linen closet and making yourself a huge nest in the corner of the overstuffed couch, in front of the fire, with a hot drink and a good book. Hygge is about lighting a scented candle and padding about the house in your flannel pj’s and slippers while your homemade soup simmers on the stove. But it’s much more than that. Hygge is about being in touch with your surroundings, whether they are indoors or out. It’s about building yourself a tiny piece of sanctuary – a retreat from the world.
If you’re truly looking to experience a moment of Hygge in your busy day, you need to eliminate distractions for a moment. Don’t worry – you only need about 15 minutes of Hygge to feel a positive, relaxing effect. So put your phone away, turn the radio and TV off and close your laptop. Find your comfy spot, close your eyes, and listen to the sound of your own breathing. Try to spend 3 to 5 minutes concentrating on nothing but the sounds inside your own body.
Hygge doesn’t have to be indoors. Maybe you feel more relaxed when you are in the great outdoors. This season might need a little help, so think about where you might be able to get yourself next to a source of heat like an outdoor fireplace or heater. Steal another tradition from the Scandinavians and heat a cheese sandwich over the flame. Just do yourself a favour and use quality sourdough bread and Gruyere cheese. It should be a complete experience for the senses.
You would think that Canadians have their own version of Hygge. Of course we do. It’s anything that you do that blocks out worry or stress. Like taking a bubble bath. Take a walk, or bike ride, or mystery tour in your car. Take time for some Hygge every day.
The best way to amplify the effects of your Hygge is to share it with others. During Covid that might mean picking up the phone (I know, but I’ll make an exception in this case) and calling a family member or friend. If it’s safe to gather in small bunches, consider inviting a few close friends or family over for a walk in the woods. Bring a thermos of cider or tea, and make sure you make plenty of stops, to listen to the forest around you. Breathe in the earth smells. Listen for the sounds of burrowing animals.
Practice regularly, all winter long. Happy Hygge.