Updated: Sep 20
If you're not familiar with hygge, take a second to visit Scandinavia Standard for a lovely explanation, and then come back here to read how I've been embodying it more this year than ever before.
I'm not sure if it's age, healing, inner peace, or the state of our world, maybe it's all of the above, but something in me has felt like I've been doing winter wrong my whole life. Actually, now that I've said that, I don't think it's that I've been doing winter wrong; instead, I think hygge is something I've always strived for, but never quite achieved. I think this year is the closest I've been, and can I tell you, the only way I'll do things differently in the future is to embrace hygge more.
So what are some of the ways that I have become more hygge focused this winter than in years past?
Well, for starters I've relaxed a lot around the notion that I have to constantly be doing something or else I'm lazy. This is really the subject of a much bigger and much deeper conversation around the myth of productivity, hustle culture, and self-care, but truly, slowing down and resting because I want to is a new phase in my life. I think we definitely undervalue rest in our culture (American) and because we've been so driven toward accomplishments for the past few lifetimes, the idea of rest has been treated as something that only happens when you're sick, on vacation, or you've been rewarded rest through unsustainable "hard work." So this year, this winter especially, I have embraced rest for what it is - a time to slow down, recover, and allow my body, mind, and spirit to regenerate. Rest is my time for allowing all the systems to take a much-needed break and work only to keep me healthy because listen, that's work enough if you ask me. This rest has granted me so much more time. For those who find time to be linear, this will seem illogical to you, but for those of us who know time is a construct, giving yourself rest really does give you more time. And because you're working from a rested state, you do better work. It's a wonderful cycle of perpetual giving.
Another aspect of hygge that I've practiced a lot longer but have amplified this winter is adjusting my environment for a cozier winter aesthetic. Here's what I mean by that. I tend to use warm lights (light bulbs) anyway, and definitely thorough the winter months. If I had any bright lights through previous seasons, I switch them to warm bulbs. The golden hue sets the tone for a cozier, quieter, more settled environment that is far more conducive to the aforementioned rest. Additionally, once my workday has ended - meaning I'm officially done with everything, including school, I turn off most of the electrical lights and hang out in the even softer glow of candlelight. If you've never done this before, I encourage you to try it. I pick up candles from the dollar store, and yes, some scented candles too, but mostly this practice is about setting a more intimate and warm tone for my evening before retiring to bed. The flicker of candles and the coziness of the living room help me settle in the evening. I'll spend my time most nights, journaling, reading, meditating, or pulling tarot for myself. I'll even throw in the occasional movie if there's enough time left in my evening for it.
While I'm resting in my candlelit abode, I've reintroduced taking time to sip on a warm beverage like a calming tea or golden milk to further enhance my cozied experience. I'm partial to drinks that include some warming spices, such as Tumeric, nutmeg, allspice, etc. because not only do they aid in warming my body within but they offer full-bodied flavors that I don't get with most other beverages. They also tend to offer other nutritional benefits as well, but mostly they taste delicious and do their fair share in contributing to the overall feeling of warmth and nourishment.
The final piece, the one that I thought I was always doing right only to discover that I've been slightly off the mark: dressing for hygge. While I'm known to choose comfort over function, there's a certain kind of snuggly comfort that I've been missing out on. Despite keeping multiple blankets at arm's length, you know - just in case, I've learned to dress a little differently for when I'm home. It's been truly comforting for me to put on warm cozy clothes and wrap myself in a warm scarf, and add whatever layers I find necessary without being constricting. The softer and more luxurious the fabric feels, the better the whole experience is.
A few other practices that I throw in from time to time include soaking in a bath with Epsom salts, cooking more warming foods like soups and curries, listening to singing bowls or classical cello, or diffusing essential oils like pine, cedarwood, or juniper berry.
Ultimately, the idea is to create a warm and inviting space where you can be cozy, rejuvenate, and take time to give back to yourself. It might just be the ultimate self-care practice through the winter months when most of us are focused on productivity and living out our new year resolutions. Maybe this year can be the start of a lovely new tradition of taking care of self, letting go of the fallacy that everything has to be done right this minute, and tending to the metaphorical hearth within. How you choose to embody hygge will be entirely based on your own needs and what brings you a sense of calm and comfort. And this winter, I encourage you to be curious, invite hygge into your home and see how it makes you feel.
Love and Light,
What do you think about hygge? If you already practice, what are some ways that you have embodied hygge?