Seasonal Affective Disorder Part IV: Hygge!

I am so beyond excited for this part, I’ve actually been looking forward to writing and sharing it for some time. I’m going to have to reign myself in and not ramble on, because I’ve so fallen in love with many aspects of the Hygge lifestyle (especially during those long, dark winter months). 

 

Basically, hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah”) is a Danish word and lifestyle, meaning an acknowledgement of a feeling or moment alone or with loved ones, at home or out, as cozy, charming, or special. What the lifestyle has come to mean in recent years is basically the art of getting cozy, in the present moment, and soaking up the warm and positive feeling. While hygge is a mindset to work towards, it does encourage us to think about what actions to take, as well as people and objects to surround ourselves with, in order to feel as cozy and internally warm as possible. 

 

This is the time to indulge in warm, soft sweaters, cozy sweatpants and blankets, muted lighting, cozy socks or slippers, warm and tasty beverages (like my new favorite mushroom vegan hot cocoa), and even a nice mug to drink from.

 

This is the time to enjoy those books you’ve been meaning to read, take on self-improvement projects you’ve been wanting to work on, and to turn inward to find ways to be more comfortable with one-on-one time with yourself.

 

It’s also an excellent time to reconnect with friends and family on a more intimate level. Consider having or attending a small gathering for coffee, a glass of wine, book club, cookie swap, a crochet/quilting group, a card game, or any other activity to help you feel more connected to yourself and others. 

 

Other ideas to connect with a hygge lifestyle: 

            -Bring the outdoors in! This is a major tenet of hygge, because often it’s too cold/dark/the weather is too bad to enjoy nature the way we normally do. As humans, we’re hard-wired to respond positively to nature. Plants recycle energy and oxygen and remind you that things are alive, especially in those late winter months when we’re tired of looking outside at things that appear to be dead or dormant. Add some small plants to your indoor décor where you will see them every day! I also like to have rocks from some favorite places I’ve visited (looking at you, Block Island!), birch coasters, and flowers. It may not seem like much, but nature has a major positive effect on the psyche!

            - Get a fire going or turn up the heat! I have a small space heater that has a faux flame in my office, which adds to the coziness factor, along with the quilts on the walls. Just make sure you’re aware of fire hazards! Sitting next to a fire reading, journaling, or connecting with loved ones feels incredibly intimate and is guaranteed to raise your spirits! Weighted blankets offer warmth and slight pressure that can be extremely comforting for many people, and can even lead to better sleep according to one of my friends who uses one.

 

Since we’re talking about intimacy, it’s time to de-clutter your space. This will help you feel more organized and relaxed, rather than chaotic and trapped inside. What can you get rid of? What is in your way or no longer serving you? If you haven’t used or worn something in six months, is there someone who may get more benefit from it? 

 

It’s also suggested in this Mental Floss article ( http://mentalfloss.com/article/91378/10-ways-master-danish-art-hygge-your-home ) to surround yourself with things that are meaningful to you, rather than mass-produced items. So if you’re reaching for a soft blanket, why not try to make one? Or maybe cover yourself in an afghan or quilt made by a loved one? The item will be associated with memories, which will feel much cozier and more nostalgic.

 

The Mental Floss article further suggests that sharing meals in the winter is an intimate practice that everyone involved benefits from. Have your friends over for a small meal and some warm drinks, or meet them out at a cozy, intimate restaurant with muted lighting, soft music, and a hearty seasonal menu. Put your phones on “Do Not Disturb” and really commit to spending time connecting!

 

Once you start incorporating some of these hacks into your lifestyle, you’ll see why they’re so popular and how the practices can help you to overcome some of the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Who knows? You may even find yourself adopting these practices year-round!

 

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.