The winter months in Ontario can be cold, depressing and dark, and also quite expensive (especially in terms of energy costs), which is why you might want to consider doing what the Danish do and practicing the principles of Hygge which include slowing down, staying cozy, dimming the lights, simplifying your lifestyle and pampering yourself.
Hygge, pronounced hoo-gah, is actually a form of mindfulness that asks you to enjoy the cozier, more restorative aspects of living in the winter. This is not the time to be adventurous or ambitious, but more of a time of retreat of reflection. The practice of Hygge comes finds it’s origins in Danis homesteading, where people living on small farms relaxed after the harvest and learned how to enjoy the simple life after a busy harvest. Even if you are an urban creature that lives miles from an actual homestead you can still practice Hygge, which supports psychological, mental and physical wellness.
Dim The Lights and Use Lanterns and Candles
A key principle of practicing Hygge is to “make friends with the darkness” so that you are in rhythm with the cycles of Mother Nature. Try dimming your overhead lights or shutting them off altogether and using just soft lamp light at night. The idea is to spare yourself the intrusion of harsh fluorescent or LED lighting. Take a vacation from loud, blaring televisions and computer screens and read a book instead.
In Denmark, it is also very traditional to save money on electricity by simply lighting candles and using lanterns instead. Just be careful to snuff out candles and lanterns before you go to bed and never leave a room where a flame is still burning.
Use the Fireplace or Gas Stove
If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace or gas stove in your apartment or home, it is suggested that you use either as a heat source, rather than turn on the electric heat. Lighting wood fires might be a bit more trouble, but this is all part of adhering to one of the main principles of Hygge, which is to economize. If you do not have a fireplace you can create a similar ambiance by tuning into the Fireplace channel on cable TV rather than watching less-than-serene newscasts and sitcoms.
Cozy Up With Blankets and Quilts
Part of the economizing aspect of Hygge is to turn down the heat at night and keep soft cozy by covering yourself with an extra quilt. You can also create a comfortable environment by decorating your furniture with large cozy pillows, blankets, and shawls.
Add Humidity to Stave Off Dry Cold Conditions
Dry winter weather and heating systems can dry out your home, as well as your skin and nasal tissues. Some HVAC systems allow you to increase the humidity in your home by turning it up to at least 40%. You can also increase the humidity in the air by running a small dehumidifier or even an aromatherapy unit. Drying your laundry by the stove or fireplace also helps with moisturizing the air.
Take bubble baths, eat a little more chocolate or drink lots of tea during the winter months This is also a good time of year to exfoliate your skin, especially your feet and treat yourself to a soak in a hot tub or 15 minutes in a soothing sauna. Be sure to keep your skin well-moisturized.
This is not necessarily a Danish tradition, but I also advise taking 2000 Units Vitamin D plus K complex to help you stay focused, cheerful and healthy during the winter months.
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