This year, with the pandemic upending our lives, there are lots of excuses to feel gloomy and depressed. Children have been forced into virtual learning and working from home with many interruptions and distractions is the new norm for many of us. Being unable to participate in organized sports and activities, and unable to see our family and friends in person can take a real mental toll on everyone.
Entering the winter season is daunting at the best of times. It’s cold, and dark and even the happiest, upbeat people can experience the winter blues. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD is experienced by approximately 3% of Canadians and another 15% experience a milder form of SAD that causes slight depression. Keep in mind that children can feel sad, too. The good news is there is light and warmth at the end of the tunnel! Focusing on the things that make us happy and add comfort and warmth to our daily lives is a great way to combat the winter blues. The Danish are leaders in this area. International surveys often rank Denmark among the world’s happiest countries. Hygge might have something to do with that!
Hygge (pronounced Hue-gah, hoo-guh) is a concept the Danish and Norwegians follow as a lifestyle. The Danish define Hygge as creating a warm atmosphere and finding comfort, pleasure and warmth in simple things such as a cozy home or the feeling of friendship. The Scandinavian term encompasses a feeling of coziness, contentment and well-being found by cherishing the little things.
There are so many great ways to bring Hygge into your home and you can get your kids involved too. Hygge can be a lifestyle you choose and work towards or an event you cherish with your family. Start with your home, minimalizing clutter and possessions and only keeping items that spark joy or are valuable either by use or sentiment.
Decorate by choosing a colour template of neutrals and accenting with cozy blankets and pillows. Use natural lighting as much as possible, keeping blinds or curtains open, adding light with warm lamps. Salt lamps or fairy lights and candles are also nice additions. Bring nature into your home with a nice fire, beautiful plants, herbs or fresh cut flowers. You can also create inviting, comforting scents to improve your family’s mood. Listening to music is another great way to boost spirits.
Here are some great family activities to bring Hygge into your home:
Have your kids build blanket forts, complete with pillows and stuffies. Wear your jammies or cozy clothes and slippers, too. The cozier the better! Let your kids bring flashlights or fairy lights into their forts. Add some of your favourite snacks, maybe dinner while watching the movie and a hot beverage to finish off your night.
Who doesn’t love a board game!? Some of our favourites are Monopoly, Battleship, Scrabble, Yahtzee, Checkers, Backgammon and Crokinole. If everyone has lots of energy try charades, Simon says, or even a family workout.
Crafting is another great activity you can do together. Here are a few ideas, and remember, using materials or food you have around your home is a nice, sustainable option (and super affordable, too):
- Create different landscapes and hang them on the walls
- Participate in colour challenges.
- Make a bird feeder.
- Make your own candles or candle holders
Bring outdoors in with this fun, frozen wreath craft.
- Choose a plastic or silicone container.
- Add sliced oranges, frozen cranberries, or other chunks of animal-safe fruit.
- Add small pine cones or cuts of various outdoor leaves and sticks.
- Add a long piece of twine and ensure the ends of the twine are out of the container and long enough to tie the container to a branch once everything freezes.
- Add water and freeze over night.
- Remove from the container and hang outside once set.
Food is another great way to practice Hygge. Think comforting, soul moving, hot foods like soups, stews, roasts and casseroles. Fun foods such as fondue, raclette, high tea (make it a themed party!), and baked goods are also comforting. Why not do a bake off or cooking challenge?
Another great indoor activity that’s part of the Hygge culture is reading! Read a novel or your favourite stories in a cozy nook or cuddled up with your favourite blanket. For those who are creative, take some time to write stories, journal, or create a winter bucket list!
Hygge is about comfort, but it’s still important to get outdoors to get at least ten minutes of natural Vitamin D everyday! With our current Covid situation it’s also the safest way to see extended families and friends. So go for a hike or walk. Skating, sledding and snowshoeing are also great activities. Gather around an outdoor fire, play in the snow, build a snowman or fort, or have a snowball fight and then warm up inside with a nice cup of cocoa.
Whatever activities you decide to do, choose what makes you and your family happy. Find the warmth and joy in all your daily adventures and tasks and focus on comfort to get you all through this tough winter.