To lead a life with more hygge, you must be able to remove sources of stress from your daily routine. Hygge is often described as making efforts to create a life freed from stresses and anxiety. All the habits below, are designed to do precisely that. Try to build them into your day or week as and when you find appropriate or get into the habit of carrying them out when the situation demands it.
Life is full of various stresses from home to the workplace, from those we put on ourselves to those created by others. Learning how to handle and work through them, having effective mechanisms to cope with stress, and allowing yourself to relax and be at your best at all times, is essential for a more hyggeligt life.
Here is a very easy breathing exercise that will take you no more than five minutes. This quick mindful breathing exercise is designed to allow you simply to focus on the present and be aware of yourself, rather than worry about pressing concerns or stresses in the future. This is a great habit to build into your daily routine and is a wonderful tonic to allow stress to seep away, leaving you more focused and clear-headed. Try it yourself to see how easy and effective it is. These are the simple steps for your five-minute breathing exercise.
- Find somewhere comfy to sit where you won’t be distracted.
- Put a timer on for five minutes and then sit upright. Let your hands rest on your lap and shut your eyes. Let your body relax.
- Observe the pattern of your breathing and whatever sensations that bring to your body. Just breathe normally. Note where you can feel your breath. Perhaps in your chest or mouth or nostrils. Just become an observer of your body breathing.
- It’s fine if your mind wanders off. Just try and bring it back gently again to your breath, coming in and then leaving the body.
- Carry on until your five minutes is up at which point you can either carry on or slowly open your eyes.
This is a powerfully relaxing exercise. The more we can do to rid ourselves of stress, the more likely we are to bring hygge into our lives.
Write down your stresses
Taking five minutes to write down concerns is a highly effective way of eliminating stress from your day. You don’t have to worry about spelling or grammar – just write down whatever comes into your mind and get it on paper. When writing a journal or diary-like this, it is best to use physical pen and paper and to force yourself away from a computer screen.
The very act of removing yourself from electronic devices and sitting alone in a quiet room will allow you to rest. A stress journal will allow you to sort out what might be a jumble of confusion in your mind. When you see things written down on paper, it gives you the chance to sort things through and add previously missing clarity to a situation. You might see answers, whereas all you could see before were problems.
A journal will enable you to see patterns where perhaps previously you viewed the issues of each day as a series of unconnected events. Viewing a sequence of such events over time will help you understand what you need to do or to avoid to prevent certain events occurring at all. A journal becomes a repository for negative thoughts, somewhere for you to write them down and get them out of your system. It is a powerful way to dispel these negative emotions which will only prevent positive thoughts occurring.
Taking five minutes a day, or more if required, for a stress journal is a great habit and time well spent. Getting rid of these negative emotions will allow you then to focus on the positive aspects of your life.
Getting to sleep
If there is one thing that is going to interfere with leading a more hygge life, it is not getting enough sleep. A lack of sleep is linked to many health conditions including heart-related issues, stroke, and diabetes. It has been shown to have a detrimental impact on your logic and problem-solving skills as well as your cognitive abilities by preventing full concentration and focus.
People who suffer from insomnia are more likely to develop depression and anxiety as well as being more susceptible to tempestuous mood swings, reacting adversely to relatively minor stressful situations. A lack of sleep reduces our ability to cope on a day to day basis which has a knock-on effect on how we feel about ourselves and our judgment. In turn, feeling anxious and stressed makes it even more difficult to get to sleep in the first place, resulting in even less sleep and this negative cycle continues.
All these emotions and thoughts will prevent any chance of hygge maintaining a hold in your life so it is important to do your best to get an adequate amount of sleep each night (7 -9 hours each night) and to follow some simple habits to give yourself the best chance of deep and effective rest.
- Establish a sleep routine that you can stick to – try and get to bed and wake up at the same time each day. This should include workdays and days off. This will establish your internal clock so your body will know when it is time to sleep and send the appropriate signals to the body, preparing you for a good night’s sleep.
- Get into your pre-bed routine – this is a short activity that is designed to relax you and prepare for sleep. It might be a bath or a short read of a book or perhaps writing your journals.
- Check the sleeping environment is right – check the bedroom is suitably dark. You could consider using darker curtains to ensure light can’t make its way in. Try to eliminate excess noise. You could consider earplugs if you have a partner who snores. Ensure the temperature is right – it is difficult to get to sleep quickly if you are too hot or cold. Ensure the windows have been open at some point during the day to get adequate ventilation and fresh air.
- Eating and drinking – it is best to give yourself a chance to digest the evening meal before you get to bed. Don’t have a great deal to eat or drink just before it’s bedtime and avoid food that might give you indigestion. Substitute your caffeine at night for non-caffeine drinks such as herbal teas.
Following these steps is a relatively simple way to ensure you are giving yourself the best possible chance to maximize your night’s sleep. There is no point heading to bed early if you are worried or anxious that you are not going to drop off quickly.
Getting into the right frame of mind for sleep by establishing these quick and painless habits as part of your daily routine will help greatly in gaining more sleep, feeling better both mentally and physically, and allowing yourself every chance of gaining more hygge in your life.
One of the most common complaints about modern life is the lack of time available for people to complete tasks or do everything they feel they need to do. For many people, the sacrifice they make is to take fewer hours of sleep. Sleeping, however, is essential for many medical and psychological benefits and you do yourself no favors at all when cutting sleep from your daily routine.
The best action you can take is to actively build sleep into a habit by taking a nap during the day. Taking a nap, ideally late in the morning or early in the afternoon, will help you enormously in getting through the day at your best and leaving you refreshed for the evening. Studies have shown that taking a nap effectively resets your system and will result in a subsequent burst of energy and increased performance.
Sleep consists of five stages that keep repeating during the night, a power nap will include only the first two. Stage one is when your breathing becomes more regular and your heart rate begins to slow.
Stage two involves a light sleep where the muscle activity continues to decrease and your consciousness of the outside world begins to disappear entirely. If you carry sleeping from that point, you enter slow-wave sleep for the next two stages and finally Rapid Eye Movement for the final stage which is where most of your dreaming takes place.
By entering stage two sleep during a power nap, even for a short time, you allow yourself to catch up on any sleep you may have missed the previous night as well as giving a boost to your problem solving and learning skills. Reaction times are improved and it can also help with blood pressure and relieving stress. Napping will also improve your mood and allow you to work more productively afterward, making you more alert and better able to handle the stresses and demands of the rest of the day.
Sleep is critical to our well-being and it is something many of us feel we miss out on. This can lead to tiredness, irritability, under-performance, and stress, all of which we are seeking to avoid in our quest for a more hygge lifestyle. Learning to grab a few minutes extra sleep each day as a habit will help you greatly in making you calmer, healthier, more ready to tackle problems and challenges head-on, and ultimately happier.
Shut your eyes
There are a lot of health benefits to being able just to shut your eyes for five minutes. If you can’t grab a quick nap, then sitting quietly with your eyes closed is another viable alternative and a great habit to get into. By closing your eyes, you prevent yourself from looking at things and then processing that visual data into information. You allow yourself to be free from concentrating on anything in particular and you let yourself relax. This has multiple benefits including improving your mood and reducing stress, both of which are important elements of hygge.
I have already talked about the importance of exercise and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Another easy way to build this into a habit is to take a five-minute walk. You may be thinking that you’re not going to get very far in five minutes, however, it is surprising how much walking frequently for a brief amount of time will add up over a day.
A five-minute walk can have significant health benefits with some reports showing that a quick walk can counteract an hour’s worth of sitting down. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minn.) showed that walking very short distances often could be more effective at maintaining health than hitting the gym for an hour.
If you are in the workplace, rather than send an email to a colleague, why not walk over to their desk and have a conversation? Not only do you have that little slice of exercise, but you will likely save time by communicating more effectively in person and will be more productive than simply sitting at your desk.
Face to face communication, which can incorporate body language, through which a lot of the meaning of a conversation is conveyed, can be highly effective at building trust and forging cohesive social links between colleagues. This tactic may not be suitable for every occasion (you might need to email twenty people at once or they might be on another continent), but try and introduce it into your working life slowly. Start with just the one walk and conversation rather than an email, and see how it goes.
If you’re at home, you could take a quick stroll around your garden to get outside or perhaps pace down your street and back. If you get the bus, try getting off a stop earlier and walking the final five minutes. Walk to a friend’s house or the local shop rather than driving. Think of the number of times you might drive a very short distance and see if that can’t be replaced just by taking a short walk instead.
This doesn’t need to be a massive change in your life, but the accumulation of walking very short distances rather than sitting down, will have numerous health benefits to your heart as well as allowing endorphins to be released into the body. The exercise will also lower cortisol levels which in turn will reduce stress. It will also increase your social connections with people. It’s an easy and fun way habit to get into that will add more hygge into your routine.