By Hanan Awaad
Did you know that one in five Canadians get the Winter Blues, or Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD; I did not. Recently I was talking to a friend of mine who works in the field of mental health, and I told her how when I relocated to Canada, I started to feel that unpleasant feeling during the Winter time and at some days during Sprint or Autumn. When I realized this, I began to incorporate some of the family traditions I grew up seeing my mother doing. We started to share what our moms did when we were young and found that there were so many similarities, especially that y friend’s mom is Italian and share the same Mediterranean traditions like my family from Egypt. Moreover, the Winter traditions that my family and my friend’s family share are very similar to European lifestyle, popularized in Denmark, known as Hygge.
The words ‘hygge’ in the Danish language means coziness[i], an in Norwegian it means well-being. Hygge is all about creating a feeling or a mood of coziness in your house. Hygge extends to making every day a happy and pleasurable day utilizing the simple ordinary things in your home and the habits or rituals you do. In hygge, every moment could be a spectacular special moment.
In Denmark, despite the long winter harsh Winter, the limited outdoor activities, and less sunshine, Danish people are the happiest people on earth and the highest quality of life, and I do believe that their hygge lifestyle is the magical recipe for their happiness.
The foundation of hygge based on one of my favourite books on the topic ‘The Little Book of Hygge’ is[ii]: being present at the moment, and making every simple task you do throughout your day has a meaning to you; creating a pleasant and harmonious atmosphere. Hygge also is about focusing on quality and comfort, not quantity and unnecessary drama; creating a sense of togetherness; and as the author of the book says “achieving coziness of the soul.” Here is how you do it and incorporate hygge into your everyday life:
GIT RID OF CLUTTER
To create an inviting, spacious home, no matter how small your place is, you need only to keep those pieces or items that speak to your heart and fill it with joy. Arrange your furniture in a calm and relaxed way. At home, you need to feel comfortable and safe, and consciously creating a pleasant atmosphere for yourself and your loved ones.
LIGHT THAT CANDLE
There is nothing creates an atmosphere of comfort and pleasure like lighting a candle. The scent and the soft light on a harsh Winter day, make your heart warm and tranquil.
ENJOY YOUR GUESTS
Hygge is about togetherness. Take pleasure in cooking and sharing a freshly prepared meal with family and friends. The aroma coming from mixing those ingredients, herbs and spices, fills your heart with inner peace and serenity.
Do not treat cooking as a chore.Cook with someone and enjoy the conversation and company of them. Structure your day around togetherness and do not be afraid of lingering with others when you genuinely love their company.
SET THE MOOD WITH THE RIGHT TUNE
Music changes our brain chemistry. Notice how your body responds to your favourite music. Music makes your body create serotonin, the happy neurotransmitter. The music you select will set the right mood. Whether you want to get pumped for some exercise time or focus on finishing a task, or relax and destress at the end of a hectic day; play some music, and you will find it easy to get into the mood.
ENJOY THE PROCESS, NOT THE CHORES
To get a result, any result, you need to go through a process or to create. Most of us hate the work or the preparation associated with an outcome we desire. Marketers play this fact up. We order our favourite food and drive through to get a cup of coffee.
Try to create something from scratch from time to time. Brew your coffee and listen to the sound of the coffee machine preparing it, and do not forget to smell the aroma of freshly made coffee. Alternatively, put a simple salad together, enjoy the vibrant colours of vegetables, neatly arrange the freshly cut veggies into a beautiful plate, and squees the lemon by hand.
Beautify everything around you to create a friendly atmosphere and inviting ambience and always pay attention to details.
Whether it is cuddly blanket or sweater, a novel you enjoy, or a bath with your favourite bath pomp you were keeping under the sink for few months; do something for yourself that shows self-love and self-care.
In Winter or any other season, hygge will bring you happiness. It is easy, so, do not complicate things. You do not need to buy new stuff, change your routine, move to another place. You can find that coziness of the heart here and right now. Pay attention to your feelings and try to isolate that happy moment and think, what made that moment a happy one, and recreate the moment again and incorporate it into your daily life.