So many of us struggle with the transition to the darker, colder days of autumn and winter.
It’s certainly true for me because, after 4 years of living through Februaries in Boston, I turned my booty around and moved myself right back to California where winter looked more like a minor few 30 degree nights instead of -13 several weeks in a row.
But lately I’ve been wondering if I had just embraced the slow, dark, stillness of winter a bit more…then maybe I would have been able to see all the gifts that winter brings.
In the natural cycle of one year on this beautiful planet, winter is just as vital a season as all the rest. It’s the darkness before the dawn. The quiet stillness before new life comes forth once again. It’s a time when we power down, hibernate (just like the bears), and get cozy before the re-birth of new life come spring.*
*I’ll try to skip my rant about January resolutions here, but let me just say that trying to kick yourself into gear and take on crazy new goals during the depth of winter when nature is literally still asleep all around us is total crazypants. Can we please wait until the frost thaws and the buds break?
The Scandinavian people (who experience seriously long, cold, and dark winters) have mastered the art of enjoying the colder moments of the year…with a term called hygge.
Pronounced ‘hoo-ga’, the term hygge doesn’t have a literal english translation but Denmark’s official tourism website defines it as “creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people.” I’ve also seen it described as cozy togetherness.
Hygge is the art of crafting intimacy in any given moment.
What I love about the hygge lifestyle is that it feels like a natural, almost effortless way to embrace the winter season the way we truly want it to feel.
Instead of furiously paddling against the current like the majority of society during this time (hellooooo holiday season anxiety and new year’s madness), let’s drop into the slow appreciation of the small joys of life and tap into a source of happiness that comes from warmth, stillness, and togetherness.
How can you cultivate a hygge mindset this autumn and winter?
Remember hygge is all about bringing more cozy and connection back into your life, so my guess is you probably already have a few hygge-like favorite winter activities of your own. Here are a few of mine:
Embrace the warmth and light of fire.
I like to light a lot (and I mean a lot) of candles around my house just as the sun is setting and the darkness of night sets in. Tim and I also love to get a fire roaring in the fireplace to warm up the house. We place our sheepskin in front of it and watch our 2 kitty cats slowly make their way over to fall blissfully asleep in the warmth.
Wear warm cozy, clothes that you love.
I make sure to bust out my blanket scarves, favorite thick knit sweaters, long socks, and best loungewear. Embracing hygge means being as comfortable and warm as possible.
Share beautiful, nourishing meals with loved ones.
I like to cook seasonal produce (think root vegetables and soups!) and gather around the table with the people of our community for candlelit belly laughs and the sharing of our stories. It helps ground us into our connection to each other and the world around us.
Take…your…time – on walks, at meals, during conversations. Embracing the long slowness of the present moment and let time linger.
Stop rushing from thing to thing to thing. Say no. Stay in. Be super intentional with your calendar and focus on rest and relaxation.
Get outside and move your body.
Appreciate what nature has to share with you – the snow on the branches, the chirping birds, the quiet wind rustling around you. Also getting your blood moving is so so good for you immunity and happiness during this dark time when the sads can come up a lot more often.
Bring the outside in
Gather the gifts of nature during your time outside and bring them into your home to create little altars around the house to honor the season. It could be foraged greens on your mantle, pinecones in your entryway, or feathers on your desk.
Work with your hands
That’s right, I want you to get to some cozy dabbling. This could be by cooking some new recipes, knitting a scarf, writing physical letters on handmade holiday cards, or making your own holiday gifts for the beloved people in your life.
I want to hear from you!
Are you familiar with and have embraced hygge? How do you do that? Share with me in the comments below.