It’s hard not to hear the word Hygge everywhere you turn these days, but there’s a good reason you keep hearing about it – the ideas and practices that the concept values are critical not just to get through long, cold, dark northern winters, but also to navigate today’s over-scheduled, always busy, over connected – yet disconnected – world. Hygge (pronounced HOO-GA) is about simplifying life, it’s a feeling of cozy, of being aware and present in the moment, lingering over an evening with friends, and stopping to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. It’s what I’ve been striving for in my life for a while now – long before I started my meditation practice - I just didn't realize Hygge is what I was searching for. Don’t misunderstand, I’m no guru, but introducing a daily practice to calm my mind and focus on the present moment is doing wonders to open my perspective, release old wounds, and appreciate the now. I am trying Oprah and Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation Experience and am thoroughly enjoying taking time to myself every day to calm my thoughts and be present enough to notice my thoughts – I’m getting really good at noticing every time my thoughts wander away and it’s hilarious to notice what truly ridiculous thoughts my mind jumps to in order to try to avoid being present in the moment! Also, it’s free! Plus listening to Oprah’s voice and having her share her stories is pretty cool, and Deepak, well he IS a guru, and he’s brilliant. I could listen to his voice and wisdom every day too. So this meditation practice has got me thinking about little changes or practices I can introduce into my life in order to feel more present, more connected and less busy and stressed. After learning more about it, I realized ALL ROADS LEAD TO HYGGE.
So here’s 5 ways to introduce more Hygge into your life – and believe me, it’s really quite simple!
TURN OFF YOUR PHONE
At night, don’t look at your phone for the last hour before bed or the first hour in the morning. Leave it in another room other than your bedroom or power it down overnight. I’ve read lots of articles touting the benefits for sleeping without your phone near you. Read a book instead or if you can’t break from the screen time, then snuggle in with your loved ones and watch a movie together. Why not start that project you’ve been thinking about? Knit a scarf, learn embroidery, finally finish your mending…Get your craft on!!
INTRODUCE SOFT LIGHTING TO YOUR HOME
Burn candles in the living room while reading or hanging out, burn (a bunch of!) candles while you have a bath – I like mine with Epsom salts and lavender & rose essential oil. Have a candlelight dinner at home with a small group of good friends. Add some fairy lights to your bedroom or fireplace mantle. All of these things add a feeling of warmth and coziness.
Add more cozy furnishings to your home. Add more rugs to your bare floors. Last winter I added a sheepskin rug beside my bed and it was so lovely to squish my toes into it every chilly morning when I got out of bed. Add pillows and throw blankets for extra warmth, coziness and even texture and colour on those dark indoor winter days. I personally love to snuggle on the floor on a large cushion – add a fireplace, a good book or movie and a mug of tea or glass of wine and I am one happy girl. Floor cushions also a great way to hang out and connect with friends and family. Play a game on the floor with your kids, build a fort, snuggle together and read stories. The last time I had some girlfriends over we hung out on the floor on pillows listening to music and talking after dinner. Getting cozy also includes clothing, so dig out those chunky knit sweaters and scarves (my favourite are cashmere – I splurged on myself a couple of years ago and bought two cardigan sweaters, which I wear constantly. I love how warm they are without being too bulky).
DRINK ALL THE WARM DRINKS
Drink cups of hot chocolate, tea or coffee from gorgeous handmade ceramics (as much as I love vintage teacups I prefer to drink my warm drinks out of something a little sturdier and more solid). Some of my favourite local potters and ceramicists are: Rogue Ceramics, Buttata Ceramics and Melissa June Ceramics. Just recently I made mulled wine for the first time and it was delicious and so easy – it also made my house smell amazing. All you need is cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks, an orange and an inexpensive bottle of wine! Enjoy these drinks with friends or family. Look them in the eyes. Connect. Have a conversation. Enjoy. Repeat.
FRIENDS AND FAMILY AND FOOD
I love to make stews and hearty meals in the wintertime. Slow cookers are the best way to cook! You turn it on in the morning (obvs you need to be prepped and have all the ingredients ready to throw into the crock pot) and when you come home in the evening you are greeted with the delicious smell of your home cooked meal - with very little work. Crock pots are great for weeknights, but I do also really enjoy the act of cooking and the preparation when I have more time, especially if I’m doing it with another person. I also like to enjoy the meal, eat slowly, and have conversations. So often we wolf down our meals to get to the next event or thing we need to get done. Don’t. Sit and stay a while. Make dinner the event. Linger after dinner and talk, laugh, enjoy.
Hygge isn’t just about how to survive the long, cold winters, it’s about more than that. It’s an appreciation for life and its simple pleasures. It’s about being present and living in the moment. It’s about being connected to people, animals, the outdoors more than your phone or your job. This winter, I hope you take the time to slow down and introduce some Hygge into your life…I know I am. And it’s definitely not a passing fad or a catch phrase – Hygge is here to stay, and I’m grateful for that.
photography: Rachael Alexandra. Co