Ahh the clocks going back. Combined with the recent visitations of various named storms, it feels as if summer ended especially abruptly this year, bringing with it longer periods of darkness, and short, wet days!
I didn’t realise how much it affected my mood until one Saturday morning when, having got through a week of dreary weather, I was greeted with bright, clear skies.
I practically bounced into work, something that was noted by several of the other staff. ‘I’m just so happy it didn’t rain on me today!’ I said.
In short, many of us may experience changes in our mood during the Autumn and Winter seasons, making it more important than ever to take steps to look after our wellbeing. But just what can we do to look after ourselves in these chilly months?
Something that started popping up when I began researching was a word which caused a bit of a craze in the UK a few years ago: The Danish concept of hygge.
Pronounced ‘hyoo-gah’, this word describes a feeling of cosiness and comfort, and involves taking things slow, and being present in the here and now. I have to say I avoided looking into it for many years as I felt that it has been coopted by UK retailers into a bit of a marketing campaign, in short a way to sell candles!
But the truth is, at its core, hygge is decidedly anti-capitalist.
The official website for Denmark no less, has a page explaining the concept, and it shares a lot with the concept of practising mindfulness for wellbeing.
‘Hygge is often about informal time together with family or close friends…There is no agenda. You celebrate the small joys of life, or maybe discuss deeper topics. It is an opportunity to unwind and take things slow.’
You don’t need a fancy pair of cashmere socks to enjoy being present and cosy in the spirit of hygge. It seems to be more about intention. Intending to take things slow for a while, intending to spend time with others, intending to foster an environment that feels comforting and safe.
This got me thinking about this particular Saturday and the improvement in my mood. And although I don’t doubt that the weather did play a role in how I felt, I realised that my positive attitude that day might have also been because I was unintentionally enjoying some hygge!
After a long week where I hadn’t socialised much, and spent a lot of time working alone at home on my laptop, I was going to a potluck at a friend’s house that evening. I was planning on bringing a homemade ‘tear and share’ loaf, which, having enjoyed the ritual of kneading the dough, I had left proving in my airing cupboard, and I was looking forward to getting home and putting it together, excited to share it with my friends.
Socialising check, mindfulness check, good food check!
The truth is, we don’t need to aspire to create the perfect ‘hygge’ atmosphere in our lives to improve our mental wellbeing, but it does contain, as a concept, some useful ideas that we can apply to look after ourselves in the darker months. Here’s a few tips that you might useful:
-Spend time with others. Long term loneliness can have serious consequences for our health and wellbeing. So try and make time to chat to others, share experiences and enjoy a little hygge together! Checking in on a lonely neighbour can be a real boost to both their mental health and yours, and making sure that we look out for others can help build strong, resilient communities.
-Create something. Obviously this is a big one at Curious Motion, as we know creativity can do great things for your self esteem and gives you an emotional outlet. Cooking and baking can be fantastic examples of this, bonus points if you can share the results with somebody else.
-Engage your senses. See if you can find ways to make day to day activities a more sensory experience. Lighting a candle at dinner can give you a wonderful cosy atmosphere, and a soft light. Take a moment to feel a brew held in your hands, warming your fingers. Drying orange slices in a low oven and hanging them in a garland not only looks beautiful, but gives a wonderful smell when you walk past.
The winter months can be difficult for many, but I hope that this might have given you some small ways you can look after your wellbeing. Doing some gentle movement in a welcoming environment with others, followed by a warming brew, is our way of enjoying a little hygge at Curious Motion, and as always our sessions are open to all and are pay as you feel. Please do have a look on our website for a class that might be beneficial for you.
I’m signing off now until January, so however you spend your festive season, I hope you can find time for peaceful reflection and joy with others. Enjoy a bit of hygge!