Seeing as how Denmark and Alabama have so many things in common, I have been reading a lot into hygge. According to wikipedia, hygge (pronounced “hoo-ga”) encompasses a feeling of cozy contentment and well-being through enjoying the simple things in life. It’s not just in the winter, either. But it is absolutely perfect for winter.
Through the past few years, I have experienced some serious post-holiday discouragement, even bordering on depression. The weather is damp, cold, and dark, the lights are gone, we have very few chances for snow (I’m very giddy about snow down here), and it’s just a sad time until spring.
To be perfectly honest, spring doesn’t do it for me like fall. Spring, for Alabamians, just means the hideously awful summer humidity is just around the corner. So, the ending of the holidays means the ending of the comfortable fall weather we only have for about 6 weeks.
I stumbled upon this concept of Hygge in some groups where people were discussing what to do after the holidays. In laymen’s terms, it’s just a mental focus on finding the positive in the circumstances. If you’re a texture person, surround yourself in cozy fabrics. Invest in those warm woolen socks and blankets.
If you’re a hot tea or coffee drinker, take a few moments to really think about the good in your life while you’re enjoying that hot drink, no matter how awful the weather may be. If you’re encouraged by smells, find those candles or oils that bring you peace and calmness. If you enjoy cooking or baking, this is a great time to try new recipes or pull out some favorites.
This may sound too simple but to the Danish people, it’s is crucial to their culture. And let’s not forget that the Danish are consistently at the top of lists proclaiming to be happiest people and that says a lot considering their long HARSH winters. It’s not just a word. It’s a mindset. It’s choosing to find the warmth in the simple things.
It’s cooking those meals that bring back happy childhood memories. It can be reading great books that you haven’t had time to read in the busy fall months with back-to-school and the holiday rush. It’s taking time for self-care even if all you can manage is a 5-minute candle and magazine in the bathroom with little kids fingers under the door, asking where you are.
Hygge isn’t just hibernating indoors. It’s also bundling up and going outside, taking notice of the cold air and views. My views are dead grass and naked trees. But I usually use these times to walk off some work stress (even if that means cursing loudly to the squirrels about current work issues) and I always come back inside feeling better. It can be trying out a new coffee shop or bakery. It’s taking advantage of the opportunities to get outside when you can, especially if you live in harsh winter climates.
This year, as the days of December were winding down, I made a point to enjoy those days and not dread the January. I decided to leave up one Christmas tree, our snowman tree, because the lights make me happy. It’s in our bedroom and it’s one of the best spots in our house. Instead of griping about the rainy cold weather, I found an old empty journal and started writing down 1 sentence a day, more if I felt like it. I focused on the good in my day and honestly, there are plenty of things about which to be grateful. I’ve kept January simple. Cozy. Hygge.
And here it is on January 15th, halfway through the month. Only 5,767 to go