Embrace the Hygge

It is late December and I just planted all of the snowplow stakes along the driveway.  I am happy that I did it on a day before it was necessary, and the ground was not yet frozen.  To me this marks the beginning of my hibernation period, after all Ursu does mean bear in Latin.  I don’t fully hibernate, but I do move a good deal of my life to the indoors.  The days paddling across North Lake Leelanau with no destination in mind on my SUP are but a memory.  The lake looks cold now.

I actually like this time of year and don’t mind the short days when it seems darkness comes earlier and earlier.  I lean into this time and create a cozy nest where I can read and enjoy a beverage by the fire.  In some of the Nordic countries they create a cozy environment called Hygge.  Don’t ask me to pronounce it but if need a good laugh, you can type it into Google and it will be pronounced for you.  The idea behind the word is that it is important to acknowledge the shortened days, gather friends and family, to tell stories, play games and share meals.

In addition to the warmth from the fire, we typically have about eight candles flickering to create a warm and inviting space.  I am a sucker for candlelight, even if they are not real candles.  There is something about the glow and flickering flame that dances unaware of anyone else in the room.  I can feel the stress of the day evaporating like the dew on an August morning.  For me, it has become important to create this environment as a way to wind down.

I strongly encourage you to make the time to create your own version of Hygge.  Start by planning what you can do around your own apartment or house.  Then practice it a bit by yourself and find comfort in the stillness and your own company.  Once you have an idea, and don’t feel weird, invite some good friends to join you.  Obviously, you are not doing this every night, but try it a couple of times per month.  Our world is so noisy and there are no shortages of distractions to keep our minds busy.  Creating this environment, which should be technology free will be like an island oasis in the stormy seas of our lives.

Oh, and one last thing.  If you are in these northern climates, we can go weeks without any sunshine.  You may want to check with your primary care physician about your Vitamin D levels and if you should supplement your diet with them.  Also ask her if a sunlight therapy lamp may be a good idea too.  I swear by both of these things and have done both for years.  Now, I must go back to my reading.