In most parts of Australia, winter isn’t a big deal. The cities never get snowed in, our water pipes don’t freeze and who owns a pair of snow shoes? Nevertheless, we’re often quick to grumble when the temperature drops to the low teens, let alone single digits.
But there are some freaks like me who actually love the cold, well some of the time. The first wintry weekend of the year is an excuse to stay at home, snuggle by the heater and nest.
In Denmark this seasonal ritual is called hygge. It’s about doing things that that are comfortable and cosy, that makes us feel content. Hygge also encompasses togetherness – simple everyday things and personal rituals that boost our wellbeing.
In a country where winter is typically long, cold and dark, finding pockets of joy is a very clever way to make the season more enjoyable. While in Australia it’s a bit more of a novelty.
With a comparatively short winter in the southern hemisphere, here are some ways to make the most of it and get your hygge on.
The essence of hygge is spending time at home, maximising comfort and embracing the ordinariness of life. It’s a celebration of simple, even mundane things, and doing less rather than more.
This is a private experience, centred around hearth and home, even if it’s only for a night or weekend. You can spend hygge time alone, with a good friend, family, partner or pet.
Hygge is an atmosphere rather than and Instagram post. Think about what makes you feel most comfortable and relaxed. This is a deeply personal experience and possibly one of the few times that the only person you have to please is yourself.
Having a hygge day gives you permission to decline invitations outside the home, just potter about, perhaps cook, craft, listen to music, write, read or dream. You can wear comfortable clothes, turn up the heating up to a comfortable level or wrap yourself in a favourite shawl or blanket.
Soothe your senses
One of the best ways to evoke some hygge on is through your senses:
- Touch: drape yourself or your furniture in soft fabrics like bamboo, cashmere or faux fur.
- Sight: drop the light levels with mood lighting or candles. A good reading light angled over your favourite chair by the fire or heater makes reading a book enticing.
- Sound: who needs an excuse to compile a play list for a cosy night in? Music streaming apps and digital stations from around the world make it easy to explore new sounds as well as old favourites, or go old school with a vinyl session.
- Smell: dust off your essential oil diffuser, brew a pot of herbal tea, or simply simmer some warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamom on the stove. The aroma of bread baking or chai brewing instantly creates a cosy feeling.
- Taste: for my Danish friends, food is an essential part of hygge. Pronounced “hoo-guh”, is it any accident that it sounds a bit like saying “hello” with your mouth full of cake! For a healthier option, you might like to stew fruit with a few spices. (More winter hygge food ideas)
Why naturopaths love hygge
Feeling safe, welcomed and nurtured is at the heart of hygge. Being “at home” with ourselves and in our environment is an essential part of reducing stress. Our nervous system craves safety. When you’ve got your hygge happening, it dials up oxytocin (the “cuddle hormone) and turns cortisol (the stress messenger) down.
In a world that glorifies being busy, clearing space in your winter diary for some hygge time can feel like a huge sigh of relief. It’s a way to let go, perhaps taking some time off from social media, enjoying your own company or that of the people you are closest to.
So much of what hygge is about is a naturopath’s dream. No wonder it’s my favourite winter ‘prescription’.
Need help getting your hygge on? Book a naturopathy session with Gill to get on top of winter, reset your mood and make the most of the season.
This article first appear in the Gill’s June newsletter. If you’d like to receive a free newsletter with lots of healthy goodies every month, please subscribe.