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Having spent my entire childhood in Sweden I thought it was pretty cool that our way of life is a thing now and told my mom about the trend. She exclaimed, “I knew we would be trendy one day!”
Yes, I had a hard time believing that too. ;-)
There is a reason though that it is so sought after: We are so stressed out today and we don’t want to feel that way anymore.
Hygge is all about spending time with friends and family. It’s also about having a cup of chocolate by the fire, reading in your fluffiest wool socks, and taking the time to really be in the moment. It’s about enjoying the small things in life and goes hand in hand with mindfulness.
This past Sunday I woke up feeling that I really wanted to make crêpes. They take a loong time to make though, so I invited our two neighbors for an afternoon crêpes dessert party! An easy way to combine friends, food, and a slow-paced weekend.
We so often rush by, forgetting to notice the things that should bring us joy. It’s time to pay attention to those things again.
Photo by Alisa Anton
1. Spend time outside
I have reserved my patio time this winter to the days when it’s 60-70 degrees (which, in Virginia, means every other day some weeks even though it’s only February), but my mom sent me a picture of them having evening coffee in a snow-covered wind shelter, and it reminded me that back home winter was never an excuse to stay inside. So even though it was 44 degrees I brought my breakfast outside to the patio and bundled up in a jacket, hat, and gloves and took a blanket with me to have over my lap. Cozy factor complete!
Being outside is so important for our mental well-being. We are made to be outside; something primal inside of us craves it. So go outside and enjoy the sunshine, rain, or clear winter chill. As the Swedish saying goes; “There are no bad weathers, just bad clothes.”
See, Dad? I listen to you.
Photo by Yingchou Han
2. Surround yourself with small joys
After breakfast I walked to the grocery store to pick up some things for the crêpes party (I did not trust that milk in the fridge) and also got a lovely bouquet of tulips. Fresh flowers are something that I will try to always have in the kitchen from now on, because it is something that always makes me smile.
I think that it’s important to surround yourself with a few things that you just love. For me, I have my beautiful teal Starbucks travel mug that I use exclusively for all the tea I drink, despite having seven coffee cups hanging on the wall. (It's just so pretty!) I have my green papasan chair that I snuggle up in to read and write in my journal (usually with a fifty-pound puppy sitting in my lap), and I have my salt lamp by the bed that gives the room a warm glow when I read before sleep. I love how it doesn't make you more awake like regular lamps do! I recently got another one to have by my desk as well, since just looking at them makes me calm and happy and I sure need that while working sometimes! ;-)
Having these small things and creating cozy, luxurious rituals around them gives you the joy and comfort you need to center yourself after a long day at work, or to prepare yourself for the day ahead.
Photo by Juja Han
3. Spend time with friends and family
As someone who has moved around a lot, I know how hard it is to maintain long-distance friendships. Heck, it can be difficult to have time to be with your friends around the corner!
As always, life is busy, busy, busy. But that’s why it’s so important to MAKE the time, to schedule in a friend-date in your calendar, even if it’s weeks away. There are so many ways you can hang out:
In my case, this particular friend was across the country, so we had scheduled a Skype session. We haven’t seen each other in person in two and a half years, but we are still good friends! It is weird when you are living completely different lives, but when the people are worth it you just have to make the effort.
Some people it seems inevitable that you fall out of touch with, though. And that’s okay. Some people were meant to be in your life for just a while to give you courage, laughter, or a lesson. You never know who will turn out to be a lifelong friend or who will be there for just a few months, which is why it is so important to treasure your friends while you have them!
Photo by Greg Raines
Speaking of treasuring friends and making the effort, I spent over an hour making crêpes and filling bowls with strawberries, bananas, blueberries, strawberry jam, and, of course, Nutella. We had such a wonderful time sitting in the warm sun on the patio stuffing our faces, talking about everything and nothing. We sat there so long that the puppy got bored and started making weird noises to alert us that the concrete slab he was lying on was not, as we seemed to think, as comfortable as the couch inside.
Cooking food yourself is somewhat of a lost art to a surprising amount of young people nowadays. My parents cooked all our meals when I grew up (not that they had a choice, with no takeout available and the nearest restaurant forty-five minutes away . . .), so it’s always been natural for me to make the majority of my food myself.
I think that it makes you connect with yourself a bit more. It’s like how having a garden, or plants, is good for you. It also shows love in a way, that you took the time and effort to cook something yourself.
Buy some chicken and vegetables, chop them up, and throw them in a frying pan with some salt, pepper, and garlic. Boom. Dinner.
Photo by Myles Tan
5. Be mindful
Along with most of my points above, it’s about taking your time. Eat slowly while telling stories and stay at the table long after the food is gone. Enjoy the feeling of a hot cup of tea in your cold hands. Roll out your yoga mat when you wake up for a few sun salutations.
Light a candle and play soothing music while you meditate. Hold someone's hand, and feel the texture and warmth of their skin. Really notice the pure joy your dog feels when you get home, and how soft his fur is.
Walk to the lake and just sit there for a while, listening to birds, watching the sun’s rays glitter on the water.
In the end, it is about the things that make you feel calm. The things that make you feel grounded. The things that make you grateful for being where you are. Find them, and do them. Simple as that.
Photo by Andressa Voltolini
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I know what it's like living with anxiety and depression, but living and living are very different things. I believe in practical tips and methods, and I will use them to help you be the brave, daring, darling individual you are.
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