Hygge: The Danish Concept That Can Help You Survive Winter, Part II

It’s an inevitable part of the calendar, whether we like it or not (almost certainly not), and regardless of how optimistic we are (it’s false hope) — winter is coming.

Last year we discussed the Danish concept of Hygge, and all of the clever ways in which the Danes not only cope with winter, but thrive (because, well, it’s constantly winter there). In essence, Hygge is a feeling and an attitude, a drive to find warmth and coziness in all areas of your life during winter because the cold is simply debilitating.  It’s endeavoring to ensure that every part of your world is positive and energizing during what can be the most depressing and draining part of the year.

So, because we can’t get enough of sequels, spinoffs, and remakes, let’s revisit that concept and add a few more tips and ideas on how to have another go with winter.

Cook

An important component of hygge is creation, and previously we mentioned how satisfying it is to forge into arts and crafts. Well, another form of creating comes with food. So cook, early and often.

We’re not just talking about a sandwich, or throwing some pasta into a pot of water. This can’t be a rote chore, as that’s antithetical to the spirit of hygge. Instead, this is an engaging activity where the process will be as rewarding as the product, wherein you look to soothe the mind, the body, and the soul. Whether or not you’re a great cook is beside the point. Find a recipe or go at it rogue, but set aside time, collect a bunch of ingredients, and prepare a feast. And of course, having friends join in with either the preparation or the consumption is great too.

Redecorate

We never really want to run away from winter; we want to make it work for us. It shouldn’t necessarily be a struggle, nor should it be something we tolerate, like an annoying roommate or a nagging cough. Sure, you can run off to warmer climes, but that doesn’t really solve the problem. We want to create diversions and getaways that are longer lasting, that exist within the framework of winter.

So take a look at your space. Then alter it. Add plants and vitamin D lamps to your room. Change up the arrangement of furniture and throw in a bunch of blankets and pillows. Create a cozier, more comfortable space, but one that is also new. The change should offer some excitement, and it’s especially vital since chances are high that you will be spending a lot more time indoors across the winter months. Candles and incense also help, and while we want to stay away from screens and computers, a nice speaker setup is helpful too; the right music warms the heart.

Event Nights

Much of hygge involves creating a special space for yourself, one that is invigorating. That space shouldn’t be an isolated one, though; it should involve others in your life. One of the best ways to stay lively during the winter is to have something to look forward to with the people whose company you enjoy most. A noteworthy social event in the form of a thematic party night is perfect for breaking up the cold months when the only celebratory holiday is a made up one: Valentine’s Day. And most people hate that day anyway.

So costume parties, potlucks, game nights, and other social gatherings in a hospitable space is perfect. It brings people together and creates a warm environment. And,just as key, it doesn’t involve putting yourself in front of a screen.

Failing that, should you want to leave the house and do something with friends—something more than merely sitting at a bar or going to dinner—check out all the fun childhood activities you can do as an adult.

Learn Something New

While we will look to embrace the creative activities we already like, and take them to their maximum potential enjoyment, we should also seek to stimulate our minds and bodies in different ways. So, in the winter, challenge yourself to do something new.

Perhaps that takes an artistic form: pottery lessons, art classes, or taking up sewing are perfect ways to invigorate your world and have something weekly to look forward to.  It may take a physical form as well. Joining a gym could be a possibility, but further to that, maybe take up yoga or go rock climbing. Learn a language, dabble in crosswords, or simply find something you were putting off. Winter can be the most uninspiring season, so combat it by trying out something novel to both distract and motivate.

Be Understanding

Maybe the most important thing to keep in mind during the winter is that while just about everyone will bemoan the cold and lack of sunlight, the gray days and longer nights affect some people worse than others. Seasonal Affective Disorder is draining; it alters moods and energy levels, manifesting itself in many ways that alter physical, mental, and emotional stasis. So be aware of those around you who may have a tougher time, and put forth an effort to work towards allaying symptoms while also being available to listen and understand.