Here in Denver winter has finally set in. Spoiled by unseasonal warmth, the recent days of chill have shocked my system and reminded me that we are moving into the throes of winter. No matter where you are [in the northern hemisphere – that is] the cold weather blues may be creeping in.
For me, winter is the hardest seasons to embrace, but it has a lot to teach us about simplicity + inner beauty. As we look around at nature [stripped of her flowers, leaves and bright fragrant scents] we are forced to turn inward to create comfort + contentment. The simple beauty of a tree without its leaves is a reminder that although all appears quiet on the outside, restoration is occurring. It is part of the process of preparing for a beautiful spring bloom.
But I’m here to tell you [from the perspective of the biology of the body at least] if we don’t take time each year for deep rest + authentic healing then rejuvenation from cell to soul is not possible.
Instead of viewing this season as a time of deprivation, consider this season an opportunity to rest + renew oneself by capitalizing on the longer periods of darkness to commit to stillness. Heading into the holidays, it can be SO hard to prioritize REST. So incredibly difficult. But I’m here to tell you [from the perspective of the biology of the body at least] if we don’t take time each year for deep rest + authentic healing then rejuvenation from cell to soul is not possible. Even if you don’t live in an area with a pronounced winter season, consider January > February [statistically the months wrought with the most depression] as your season of REST and REJUVINATION.
EMBRACE HYGGE! (pronounced “hoo-gah”)
What is HYGGE you ask? It’s the art of cozy. Yep you heard me. It’s the art [practiced predominately by the Danes] of finding deeper meaning within ordinary life and establishing a meaningful, mindful connection with the world. Hygge is not about grand gestures, but rather, embracing little luxuries everyday in order to foster a sense of familiarity, comfort and kinship to your world. How lovely! Just as a bear hibernates in winter, we too need to look at winter as a time to create a “cozy cave” within the home, conducive to growing self-care, relationships, receptivity, relaxation and reflection. As much as we would hope that all of this would come naturally, hygge takes concerted effort [especially because it is countercultural]. When was the last time you told your friend you were “relaxed” instead of “busy,” huh?
TAKE ACTION NOW WITH THESE TIPS:
☐ Dim the lights – use candles for dinner tonight. flickering flames create an enveloping glow + add a warming sense of atmosphere to even the darkest room. But, beeswax is best. Avoid scented candles because nothing about hygge is artificial.
☐ Decorate the inside with the outside- nature breeds happiness. Sometimes it’s just too chilly to go outside so why not bring the outdoors in: ex. pine cones on the hearth, fresh garlands, or ornate branches hung in windows. All are simple, “free” and therapeutic.
☐ Bake bread- The smell of a freshly baked loaf of bread wafting through the house is about as hygge is it gets. From kneading the dough to baking and enjoying with friends – the whole process = hygge.
☐ Sip on cocoa or rooibos chai poured in big mugs, in your cozy living room, with a friend. It’s just that simple.
☐ Pick up a book- Although hygge encompasses a feeling of familiarity and togetherness, you can still achieve it alone. Nestle up under a blanket and get sucked into a proper, paper book – rather than the electronic kind. Is there anything more exquisite than that new [or endearingly old] smell of a book?
☐ Put down the phone- Hygge is the antidote to modern life. It’s all about embracing these experiences fully and living in the moment, which is difficult to do when staring at a teeny weeny screen. Create a “tech fast.” Put your phone on airplane mode to intentionally engage in the NOW.
☐ Sit by a roaring log fire- Few things evoke feelings of coziness and warmth like a roaring fire during the coldest months. A proper “hyggeligt” (translate: cozy) fire should, of course, use real wood. In fact, a real hyggeligt living room should certainly have its own log pile.
☐ Spend quality time with friends and family- Plan a game night with the family or friends. When was the last time you gathered around the table to just PLAY.