Y O U T H

Y O U T H

Hygge and You

Hygge and You


This post contains hygge habits which are all about you as an individual. They are designed to be built into your day, at a time that best fits for you. They are activities that you can carry out entirely on your own, allowing you to build a heightened sense of hygge, peace, calm, and relaxation within your own living space. 


Be in your favorite space 

The chances are you already have a favorite place in your home – somewhere towards which you naturally gravitate when you have a few spare minutes. Somewhere you instinctively feel relaxed and calm and at peace. It might be the kitchen, the living room, or perhaps in the garden on a chair in a location that captures the sun most of the day. 

My favorite places tend to vary through the seasons. I opt for the garden in the summer, but throughout winter I tend to choose the kitchen and its comforting warmth. I have a chair next to a window where I can read and have a cup of tea in the morning. It probably helps that the dog’s bed is there too as she is happy to keep me company whilst I enjoy the calm. 

If you’re not quite sure where your place would be, take a couple of minutes to ponder where you are drawn to. Think about where you like to sit or where you go just to escape for a little while. Identifying the locations in your home which are perfectly suited to relaxation and feeling warm and comfort is important. It will give you a place to which you can retreat when in need of a little soothing peace. Get into the habit of using that dedicated place more, even if just for a few extra minutes a day. You could open your daily mail for example, or have your first hot drink of the day in that particular spot. 

If you can’t think of anywhere at all that currently fits the description, then take a few minutes to look around and consider making a dedicated spot. Add in a textured cushion or two or perhaps a warm blanket. Perhaps it is somewhere in the room with the best view out of the window. Place a book nearby so when you feel like reading, you are doing so in the most comfortable location in your home. Try to make a little place, just for you, that you know will enable you to relax and recuperate in the best possible way. 


Turn off electronic alerts 

If you’ve enabled various electronic alerts on your cell phone or mobile device, then consider turning them off entirely. These alerts, which come from every variety of app on your device, clamor for your attention, demanding that you give precious time up to read them. Alerts from Facebook or Twitter or any other social network or email do not need to be opened instantly. If you are having dinner with friends or relaxing with the family, one of the main things that will interfere with a true hygge atmosphere is the incessant and unwelcome beeping of various devices going off. 

If you want to check your email, then put aside a certain part of the day to do so. Don’t waste time, checking every single email as it comes in. Each time you take out the cell phone, unlock it, and mentally process the message, your energies are being diverted needlessly. If you go through your mail in a batch, answering as quickly as you can or deleting emails that need no action, you will save time and be in control of the entire process. Electronic alerts will not interrupt your relaxation or important time spent with real people. 

Take just a few minutes to change the settings on your device so you remain undisturbed at home. If you feel you absolutely must check emails outside office hours, then give yourself no more than five minutes to do so.

There are few things so pleasant as a picnic eaten in perfect comfort.


Reading 

Reading is one of my passions. I’ve read voraciously since I was a child and for me, hygge is inextricably linked to the idea of a great book, perhaps with a hot drink by my side. Even in just five minutes, it is possible to immerse yourself in a book and gain a break from the outside world. Reading is a tremendous stress-reliever. A study from the University of Sussex, UK, found that reading for six minutes reduced stress by up to 68% (listening to music and having a cup of tea were also very high on the stress-relieving list). 

Reading allows you to become engrossed in another topic of interest or a story, taking you to a place where you can escape worries and anxieties. It has numerous other benefits including increasing vocabulary, being exposed to new ideas and thoughts as well as helping with memory and general sharpness of the mind. 

If you want a little slice of hygge for just five minutes, no matter where you are, sitting down with a great book is one of the most effective ways to achieve it. 


Listen to music 

Music has the power to change your mood instantly. It can hold memories of previous events and take you back to happy times. It can evoke all kinds of emotions and has even been found to be able to reduce pain and anxiety after surgery, according to reports from Brunel University, the UK, a finding backed up by a similar Danish study. Music has been found to relieve stress in lowering your cortisol levels a hormone that is released into the body when situations have become stressful. When we listen to music we enjoy, it brings with it an emotional response. If we listen to music that feels good to us, we give ourselves a chance to escape from the stresses of the day no matter where we are. 

These days it is easy to have music of virtually any description at your fingertips. It might be through music you have stored on a portable device such as a cell phone, it might be through a computer or it could be through one of the many music-streaming services that are available. 

Of course, your choice of music is a highly individual one. I have a playlist of 20 tracks that I carry with me on various devices. When I am home, I have these songs on vinyl and listen to them in my living room, but I have them in other formats as well. I have listened to them before important meetings, before I embark on a long task and when I am traveling home at night. There are few opportunities where I can’t find a little slice of time for my hygge music. 

If you would like some music suggestions, here are some of my favorite hygge tracks. They all hold highly personal memories for me at various stages of my life. I hope you enjoy them, but don’t forget to think of your own as well and make it a hygge habit to play one for five minutes when you need it. 

  • This Must Be The Place – Talking Heads 
  • Canon in D – Pachelbel (this is a little over 6 minutes but beautiful) 
  • Air on a G String – J Bach 
  • Let It Be – The Beatles 
  • Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley 
  • Take It Easy – The Eagles 
  • Three Little Birds – Bob Marley 
  • California Dreamin’ – Mamas and Papas 
  • The Sound of Silence – Simon and Garfunkel 
  • Perfect Day – Lou Reed 
  • Teardrop – Massive Attack 
  • I Heard it Through the Grapevine – Marvin Gaye 
  • Fast Car – Tracy Chapman 
  • Imagine – John Lennon 


Cuddle Pets 

If you have a pet, you will already be spending a lot more than five minutes looking after him or her which is a great way to bring hygge into the entire family. Cuddling a pet can release similar emotions to those we get with physical contact with people. It can reduce stress hormones such as cortisol and increase levels of serotonin and oxytocin which alleviate. It can also lower cholesterol as well as help your heart. 

Stroking your four-legged friend can be so effective that dogs are also used as therapy dogs in nursing homes, for those in physical therapy and a wide variety of mental health issues including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

A further hygge benefit of owning a pet is that they can form a tremendous social bond between family members and friends. They become a talking point for you and for strangers who may feel much more comfortable about striking up a conversation based around your dog than for any other reason. I am frequently stopped by total strangers in the street to ask what breed of dog I have and give her a little stroke. Pets are perfect for breaking down boundaries and will encourage communication and contact between people. 

They are an ideal icebreaker and walking them in the same park at the same time each day, even if just briefly, will allow you to meet other like-minded dog owners and form social networks within your local community. A recent study from the universities of Miami and St. Louis also found that among the many benefits of owning a dog, was becoming more extroverted and comfortable about getting closer to other people. 

Any pet requires a considerable amount of attention and looking after. This requires us to think more about other living things than ourselves as well as learning to possess a vast amount of patience and understanding at times! All these positive benefits of pet ownership resonate with the principles of hygge and your pet-stroking habit can bring significant benefits, even in very short periods. 


Aromatherapy 

Smells can be a huge part of creating hygge. You can use candles or light a couple of reed diffusers in the house to create a pleasingly scented atmosphere. Oils to consider would include frankincense, marjoram, geranium, lemongrass, bergamot, jasmine, ylang-ylang, or lavender. Be careful to stick to essential oils rather than perfume oils or more generally fragrance oils which can contain various synthetic chemicals. 

If you have a little more time at your disposal, then a few drops placed into a hot bath is a great way to relax. You can gain many of the benefits from aromatherapy just by quickly setting up a reed diffuser with your favorite oils. This is a simple daily habit to get into and can be combined with the lighting of candles and setting the right lighting tone in your house at the end of a busy day. 

What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives?


Having a footbath 

Immersing yourself in a luxurious, bubble-filled, glorious bath with candles casting their flickering illumination sums hygge up perfectly for many people. While it’s not impossible to have a five-minute bath, it generally seems a bit of a waste to set it all up, only to spend five minutes in it before you regretfully pull yourself out. 

One quick alternative is footbath. This is a great way to relax after a long day and will help to soothe your aching muscles and reduce inflammation. Using a few drops of essential oil, perhaps lavender for relaxation will also add to the general ambiance. Epsom Salts are another alternative you could consider adding. Even a five-minute soak can relax your feet and leave you feeling refreshed and calm. It’s not quite the same as the full bath experience, but it’s a very worthy alternative that takes a fraction of the time.


Visualisation 

One of the most effective ways to bring more hygge into your life is to imagine yourself doing it – to visualize it occurring. This is a practice that’s been adopted by professional athletes for decades who imagine themselves performing a successful action before they do it. The effects of this technique are that your brain can understand what you need to do to achieve your goals before you carry them out in reality. Having completed that action in your mind, you think more positively about your chances of success and therefore are more likely to achieve that goal. 

We can use very short periods of visualization in periods of high stress to relieve tension and transport ourselves to a happier and calmer mental location. The mental side affects our physical reactions. By imagining ourselves to be calmer we gain the appropriate physical reaction as well. We allow that feeling of creating calmness to become more common and natural to us. The process becomes easier and easier the more we do it. 

To carry out a five-minute visualization, just make yourself comfortable in a quiet place and close your eyes. Imagine that you are in a place that you find soothing – this could be at home, curled up in front of the fire under a blanket with a great book. It could be on the beach or perhaps walking in a beautiful wood somewhere. 

Try and engage with the specifics and imagine particular details. Use all the senses you can – what can you see? Hear? Touch? Smell? Feel? Add as much mental detail as you can and see yourself in that location for a few minutes, enjoying all it has to offer. 

This is an easy and effective way to bring peace and calm into your hectic day. Try it just for a couple of minutes a day, whenever it seems appropriate, and you will soon feel the benefits.


Gratitude journal 

A gratitude journal is a wonderful way to record all the things that are good in your life right now. The entries don’t have to belong – even a word or two is fine if you like. All you need to do is keep a record of those things in life for which you are grateful. It might be the people in your life to whom you are close. It might be something great that is happening at work or a highly enjoyable social occasion you went to. It might be a song you currently love or a recipe that worked well. It might be a movie or a program on television. 

Take a few moments to think about those things that bring you joy, fun, happiness, or contentment and note then down. Add a sentence that explains why they have had such a powerful effect on you. It’s not something you have to do every day – it is highly effective to re-read previous entries as well and remember those things you enjoyed greatly or treasure. 

I like to write when I am warm and cozy in bed, but there is no particular right or wrong time to do it. Add to the journal when the time is right for you. Feeling gratitude is intertwined with wellbeing and hygge. By recording all the good things in your life, you assess the day in positive terms only. You remind yourself of all the good things that have happened that day and the days before it. 

Recording your thoughts in a journal allows you to frame the day and finish it on a positive note, leaving you more prepared to face the next day. By writing and reading a journal, just for a short period a day, you give yourself a chance to experience the positive things in your life repeatedly and nothing can be more effective in creating hygge than that.

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