Hygge – Fall in Love with Winter the Danish Way

Hygge is regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture, one of the happiest countries in the world. Denmark is situated in northern Europe meaning it can get pretty cold and dark, especially this time of year. Yet, it’s repeatedly voted one of the places with the happiest citizens. Hygge, the Danish way to live life well, is the perfect way to learn to love the winter months. It’s all about cosiness and joyful experiences that can be achieved by anyone, anywhere in the world. As this season is full of festivity, snug surroundings and delicious food, it’s the perfect time to impart some hygge into your life.

What does Hygge actually mean?

According to dictionary.com, Hygge is “the feeling of coziness and contentment evoked by simple comforts, as being wrapped in a blanket, having good conversations, enjoying food, etc.” Hygge is much easier felt than described. It’s the art of creating intimacy and joy, the pleasure of comfort, and a cup of hot chocolate in candlelight. The beauty of hygge is that it embraces happiness in the little things in life.

5 Simple Steps to Practice Hygge

Ambience

According to Meik Wiking, author of The Little Book of Hygge, hygge is nothing without candles. When darkness hits, it’s time to turn off the lights and brighten up the room with candles, lamps, and love. In order to create a hyggelig ambience, candles are essential. The concept of creating small flutters of light around the room captures the beauty and simplicity of the comfort and warmth light offers us.

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Conviviality

Denmark prioritises its social relationships and work-life balance. Chances are you’re already set to experience something hygge this season. Conviviality is a key concept which is the simple pleasure of spending time with loved ones. Time shared with others creates a feeling of warmth and closeness, particularly hygge when done in a pleasant relaxing atmosphere. In fact, studies show that the more satisfied with your social relationships, the happier people are in general. As a social species, our relationships affect our happiness. According to the Danes, the perfect hygge social events include an intimate amount of 3 – 4 close friends. Whether it be organising a games night, or enjoying some good food by the cosiness of the fireplace, creating hygge memories requires minimal effort. So, light some candles, put some relaxing music on and leave your phone in your bag to practice presence.

Pleasure

The hygge concept is all about being kind to yourself by allowing yourself to indulge in one of the simplest pleasures of life, food, and drink. Actually, the pleasance of good food and drink may mean taking a break from the healthy bandwagon. Stop seeing them as guilty pleasures and start seeing them as hygge inspired treats. For the most hygge food, think all things sweet such as cake, pastries and home-baked treats galore. Though hyggelig treats can be as simple as sharing a bowl of popcorn with friends. For the most hygge beverages, think warm drinks like hot chocolate, coffee, or why not go all out with some mulled wine to celebrate the festive season. Embracing a warm drink is a comforting way of warming yourself up and inducing an enjoyable hygge ambience.

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Cosiness

Getting snug and relaxing is a great wait to practice hygge cosiness. The wonders of hygge include some cosy attire, comfy cushions and a blanket. If you really want to hygge things up, you can take it to the next level and create a hyggekrog. This is a cosy spot at home where you can get cosy with a good book and hot beverage. The typical Danish hyggekrog is the most beautiful window ledge seat that we all secretly long for in our homes. It doesn’t have to be a window spot though. Take a part of a room and fill it with cushions, comfy seating, a blanket and some gentle lighting for the ultimate hygge feel. There’s something comforting about a small spot meant for moments of cosiness. Embrace the comfort of home in your new hygge hideout and get ready to relax with a good book.

Peace and Harmony

After a slightly different year, it’s safe to say many of us have learned to appreciate peace and tranquillity. At times, as interesting as debating politics may be or no matter how satisfying it can feel to brag about our achievements, we need moments of peace and harmony. Life is no competition and love has no price. Instead, in moments of hygge, we must share our tasks and embrace the time spent together in a peaceful manner. After all, we must be grateful to have our loved ones in our life and enjoy one of the most simplistic blessings in life, their presence.

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What better way to fully immerse yourself in the Christmas spirit than to create a hygge ambience? All these wonderful hygge concepts are taken from Meik Wiking’s award-winning book, The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well. This short summary was completely inspired by this wonderful book that quite frankly made me fall in love with all things hygge. It is thanks to Meik that I can see the beauty in winter, a season full of darker days and cold chills. Winter is the season which invites us to practice hygge to our heart’s desire.

Simple Self-Care Tips for the Winter Season

As winter begins in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s the perfect time to embrace the seasonal changes. Winter is rolling in which means our self-care routines and leisure activities, much like our wardrobes, are in need of a switch-up. Welcome in the beauty of winter with these simple self-care tips to embrace the chill.

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The Benefits of a Seasonal Routine

Did you know that the seasons affect both our body and mind? Scientific studies show that seasonal variations including temperatures, daylight, and weather conditions affect us. Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is an example of human seasonality. Those with the disorder tend to suffer depressive episodes in late autumn or early winter, sapping energy and augmenting mood swings. One reason for this is that reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin levels.

Luckily, there are some simple steps we can take in order to stay in sync with the seasons. Our daily self-care practices help keep us happy and healthy. So with the arrival of winter, it’s time to prioritise self-care.

Winter Walks

Nothing is quite as refreshing as a winter walk. Not only is it a wonderful way to get a dose of fresh air, it also provides us with the natural light that our body craves during the winter months. It may seem less appetising during the cold months, especially on those frosty mornings. Even so, you won’t regret it. It’s a wonderful way to get exercise and even enjoy the company of a loved one. Or, to make the most of some alone time, why not make it meditative by giving a walking meditation a go?

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Vitamin D

During the winter months, it can be hard to get enough vitamin D from sunlight alone. Yet, vitamin D is essential for maintaining healthy bones and strengthening our immune systems. Studies actually show that vitamin D deficiency is associated with depression. Luckily, between 10-30 minutes of midday sunlight several times a week is a great way to get your dose of vitamin D. And, for those gloomy days, there are some delicious sources of vitamin D including: fortified soy, almond and rice milk, mushrooms, fortified orange juice, oily fish and fortified cereals and oats.

Soak in Hot Baths

Soaking in a bath is a pleasant way to relax and, according to the Healthline, it can also help reduce inflammation and control blood sugar. Basically, a relaxing bubble bath can be used as an excellent antidote to a stressful day as well as warming you up amid the winter chill. Soak in a hot bath whilst soothing your senses with some scented candles or fragrant bath salts. Or why not make a day of it and schedule a spa day for the ultimate relaxation.

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Ayurvedic Rituals

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of holistic health, which embraces natural practices to nurture the body and mind. In Ayurveda, wellness is known as the absence of disease and the vibrancy of being at ease with yourself and others. Although Ayurveda focuses on three different body types, there are many lifestyle practices to benefit from regardless of our dosha. Tongue scraping, for example, first thing in the morning is an effective way of removing toxins and bacteria accumulated overnight. Drinking warm water first thing also has incredible benefits including hydration of the body’s tissues, aiding digestion, and, of course, keeping you warm and cosy on those winter mornings. For more amazing Ayurvedic practices and an in-depth guide to rituals and recipes specific to your body type, check out this Ayurvedic Beginner’s Guide.

Journaling

Momentaneous sadness or irritation is normal irrespective of the seasons. Yet, those rainy days or winter chills can take an extra toll on our mood at times. This is when journaling can come in handy. Relaying your thoughts on paper is a great way of coping with fleeting negativity. It can help to understand the reasons behind these emotions, or even enable us to stumble upon some solutions. Positive affirmations are also a great way to stay on track in moments of self-doubt or worry. We are what we think, and in turn, our moods, days, and lives stem from our thoughts. Release some “feel-good” hormones with the help of psychologist Doctor Carmen Harra’s expertise in affirmations.

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Music

Did you know that your brain actually releases dopamine, also known as the feel-good neurotransmitter, when you listen to music? Pleasurable music induces release of dopamine, contributing to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. So, if you’re looking for an instant mood-boosting hack to cure your winter blues, it’s time to put your favourite playlist on. And what better way to get in the Christmas spirit than dancing, cooking or showering to some Christmas classics. Because, who doesn’t feel happier after listening to Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You, right?

Ignite Your Inner Creativity

Getting creative is entertaining and provides us with an abundance of benefits. From stress relief to increased confidence, we have all experienced first-hand the feeling of accomplishment that creativity brings. Whether it be some mindful baking to whip up some tasty treats, reading in a cosy corner of the house or drawing and painting to your heart’s desire, the options are endless. To practice some seasonal creativity, why not create a beautiful hand-made gift this Christmas or have a go at making some delicious wintery drinks to feel replenished.

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Winter is a wonderful season that has so much to offer. From snuggling up on the sofa with a hot chocolate to exhilarating winter sports, this season deserves to be celebrated. Wintertime is renowned for its frosty mornings and crisp air, yet it’s also a time to embrace the beauty of winter walks, cosy corners and festive spirits.

The Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

Want to be healthy, and live sustainably at the same time? Well, look no further – a plant-based diet is the answer you’ve been looking for. Its benefits extend way beyond health as it also promotes a more sustainable, ethical way of living.

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What Is a Plant-Based Diet?

You may be wondering what a plant-based diet actually is. To put it simply, it focuses on consuming products primarily produced from plants. Don’t be deceived, the likes of dairy, meat and fish are still permitted, just on a much narrower scale. It means mainly choosing to consume plant-based foods as opposed to animal-based ones. So, let’s dive into the benefits it can bring us, and our wonderful planet.

A Healthier Heart

Did you know that foods that are high in saturated fat mainly come from animal sources? These include: red meat, poultry and dairy. The good news is that this type of diet equates to a much lower intake of such products. Foods high in saturated fat can raise your cholesterol levels, in turn increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. It can also increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. High cholesterol levels lead to a higher chance of having a stroke, heart disease or a heart attack. But beware, other foods that are high in saturated fat include baked goods and fried foods.

Ethical Living Meets Compassion

We’re educated to be compassionate, yet we often fail to do this when it comes to our diet. A strong desire to alleviate suffering was my reason for turning veggie and I’ve never looked back. The famous book Sapiens, pointed out that “animals are the main victims of history”. It rightly points out that animal farms are “perhaps the worst crime in history”. Cutting out animal products is an effective solution, and a great way to start making a difference.

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The Environmental Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

The environmental impact is also huge. Dr John Cullimore sheds light on how a vegan diet uses only a third of the energy, land, and water than an omnivorous diet uses. In terms of individual changes, it’s an effective way to help reverse the effects of climate change. According to the United Nations University, “twenty servings of vegetables have fewer greenhouse gas emissions than one serving of beef”. Dietary shifts can also help prevent wildlife and habitat destruction. David Attenborough is also an advocate of the plant-based diet being one of the most effective ways to take action.

Good for Weight Loss

In addition, plant-based diets can also be great for weight-loss. Not only does it tend to reduce our intake of saturated fat, it also means a higher intake of fibre. The magic of fibre is that it helps fill you up, without the dreaded surplus of calories. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, we should ideally aim for around 40 grams of fibre a day. Foods that are high in fibre include: wholegrain products, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. According to Mayo Clinic, vegetarians are “less likely to be overweight, a known risk factor for some types of cancers.”

Meat’s Impact on Cancer Rates

Research suggests a link between the consumption of meat and cancer. This is because of the chemical compounds created when red meat is cooked. These harmful compounds are also found in processed meat. This diet not only radically reduces the harmful effects of meat consumption, it also contains more phytochemicals and fibre. Phytochemicals, literally – plant chemicals, are an anti-inflammatory. These compounds work to protect cells from damage. According to Breastcancer.org, they are also believed to “help stop carcinogens from attacking cells”. See, plants really do have powerful medicinal value.

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Going plant-based can bring excellent nutritional value to your diet, help save the planet, and improve your overall health. Like any diet, this requires consciously healthy eating habits. Take a look at One Green Planet’s Ultimate Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition if you have any nutrition-related queries. Let me know in the comments below why you made the transition, or why you’d like to be.

“The future is about a plant-based diet.” – Jamie Oliver

How to Feel Happy

Happiness

noun

  1. the quality or state of being happy.
  2. good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.

Happiness is what everyone strives for in life. It is what everyone tells you to be, but no one really tells you how to be it. Happiness is subject to every individual making it a rather complex topic. Luckily with in-depth research and hard-work, we now know the hacks to lead a happier life so let’s dive into different ways to increase our happiness!

Avoid the “if when” Mindset

In a world in which we are surrounded by social media and glamorous ads, we are susceptible to superficial ideas of happiness. Just scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, or passing commercials in the street, we constantly see people, products, and services that make happiness seem so achievable. If you book that holiday, you’ll be happy. If you get that promotion, you’ll feel happier. It gives us hope that we will find happiness if or when this happens – it’s a waiting game. The problem with this “if when” mindset is that we are constantly depending on that future moment for our happiness. We are aware of what we lack, thus failing to see what we actually have. The best way to tackle this is by replacing the “if when” mind-set by counting your blessings and thinking about everyone and everything you are fortunate enough to have in your life right now.

Gratitude

The infamous gratitude list is the BEST way to really think about what we have and embrace it with open arms. Start the day on a positive note by making it the first thing you do in the morning. Look around you and start to think about your blessings: nature, food and drink, pets, family, friends, beautiful places, access to water, safety, good health, wildlife, a home, entertainment. Make a concerted effort to see all the good that encompasses you. Check out this free five-minute morning journal below to make gratitude a daily ritual.

Connecting With Others

Spending time alone is great and definitely needed, but spending time with others should also be a priority. As an introvert, this can be a struggle. Reminding yourself that we humans thrive off social interactions and supportive relationships is a great reason to organise a get-together with loved ones. The most important thing is to be sure that you are making real genuine connections that contribute to your psychological well-being. Organise something you enjoy with someone you get joy from being with in order to boost those feel-good vibes. Notice how you feel after certain social activities and interactions and aim to fill your social schedule with the ones that leave you feeling great afterwards.

Go Easy on Yourself

Sometimes you will feel down and that’s completely normal. Just like every other emotion, happiness is fleeting. This means that those bad moods will end and those moments of joy too. Psychologically speaking, there are two types of happiness. Hedonistic happiness is the fleeting kind such as that first bite of chocolate, receiving a compliment, or going on vacation. Hedonistic happiness is about experiences of pleasure and joy.

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Diving Deeper

On the other hand, eudaimonic happiness is the purposeful, long-lasting type. When your values and beliefs are expressed in your choices, habits, and actions, you are practicing eudaimonia. Those that experience this type of happiness enjoy life and all it has to offer. This sense of fulfillment is reached from the pursuit of meaning and virtue.

Eudaimonic Happiness

Eudaimonic happiness offers a completely different perspective on what it means to have a good life. It involves discovering our purpose and investing in personal growth. This sense of fulfillment will enable us to feel more content and purpose. The concept contains six pillars that experts deem to be crucial in the pursuit of lasting happiness.

The elements are autonomy, personal growth, environmental mastery, positive relations, self-acceptance, and purpose in life. To clarify, autonomy refers to the ability to feel confident enough to pursue your own path in life and build yourself a life without getting wrapped up in other people’s opinions. Environmental mastery is the ability to create a suitable environment to accommodate personal needs and values. By taking on these challenges you are investing in your long-term happiness which, needless to say, will definitely be worth it.

“Happiness is not out there, it’s in you.” – Louise Armstrong

Wellness and the Weekend: Finding Balance

Many of us can relate to maintaining a healthy lifestyle Monday to Friday, right? Our routine, limited social events, and a productive mindset help us to stay on track. Yet the moment that the weekend arrives, it can be easy to slip up. Here are some tips to promote balance and avoid completely jumping off the wellness bandwagon.

Buy Healthier Alternatives

Healthy eating is all about the balance of enjoying food responsibly. Bear your food cravings in mind when you do the food shop because let’s be honest, we all get them. The key is to opt for healthier alternatives. If you are a chocolate lover, opt for dark chocolate, if you are a pizza lover, make a cauliflower-based pizza. By investing in healthier alternatives to your guilty pleasures you set yourself up for a happier, healthier gut. Do some research and find out what alternatives are available. Although, OK it’s the weekend so technically pigging out should be allowed, just in a smarter way. Liberate yourself from the guilt and sugar rush. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

Get Excited about Exercise

It’s the weekend so the last thing you want to think about is having to drag yourself to the gym when you’re just not feeling it. That’s completely fine because we all need a break and, hey, it’s the weekend. It’s all about having fun whilst not jumping off the healthy bandwagon entirely. If no form of exercise excites you yet, it’s time to get experimenting. Try out a new sport or even take a trip down memory lane and opt for a childhood classic like roller skating. Why not get the best of both worlds by getting outdoors too? For instance, going on a bike ride, hiking in the mountains, or taking a walk to watch the sunset. Embrace the activities that excite you and get you moving in the process.

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Give Yourself Some You Time

So Monday to Friday we work, we study, we run errands and we reap productivity. The weekend is the perfect time to reward yourself for all the hard work you have put in and take time to focus on yourself. Do something that makes you happy or makes you feel alive. It’s OK to say no to events to prioritise yourself. Actually, you are doing them and yourself a favour in order to replenish and feel like your best self.

Spend Time with People that Bring Out the Best of You

According to Jim RohnYou are the five people you spend the most time with.” This is the perfect reason to hang out with the people that make you feel happy and uplift you. Social interaction, when done right, triggers positivity and releases endorphins. Spending time with friends that spark joy is a win-win situation, resulting in an increase in well-being for all.

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Learn Something New

Who said that learning was boring? Learning doesn’t have to be tedious. In fact, when you find something that sparks your inner curiosity, learning becomes a pick-me-up. From reading a gripping book to listening to a podcast that inspires you, the more you learn, the more you keep your mind engaged. Embrace unconventional learning by watching a video on a topic you’ve always wanted to learn about, or by reading your favourite magazine.

You cannot buy your health; you must earn it through healthy living.” – Joel Fuhrman

The Science-Backed Benefits of Houseplants

Plant deco is definitely trending in 2020. Thankfully, unlike other social trends, this one may last longer than most because of their science-backed benefits. It turns out houseplants are beneficial for our health, home and well-being.

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The Benefits of Interior Plants

Air Purifying Plants

If you have ever searched “purifying interior plants” on Google, you’ll know that there are an abundance of plants that do absolute wonders for your health and home. These plants have the ability to absorb the pollutants such as carbon dioxide in the air through their leaves and roots. These magic plants been proven to help eliminate harmful toxins in our homes caused by cleaning products, air fresheners, cosmetics and smoking. Some of the best air-purifying plants include: spider plants, dracaenas, bamboo, aloe vera, and peace lilies.

Reduced Stress Levels

Did you know that indoor plants can help you feel more comfortable and calm? Studies show that plants can reduce both physiological and psychological stress. Spending time around greenery does wonders for our health and well-being as they stave off stress and anxiety. What’s more, according to environmental health expert Danica-Lea Larcombe, “plants confer positive changes in in the brain’s electrical activity, muscle tension and heart activity.”

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Aesthetically Pleasing Plant Decor

From tiny succulents to divine pot plants, there are so many to choose from. Whether it be to brighten up your living room or add some beach vibes to the bedroom, they’re a great way to jazz up interiors on a budget. When choosing a plant, bear in mind the sunlight, temperature and humidity of the room to ensure it will thrive. So hit up your local garden centre and invest in some green household additions.

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Plant deco is a definite 2020 interior design trend. Apart from their aesthetical beauty, they can also help our health, stress levels and homes. So, if plants bring you joy why not decorate your home in an ecological manner?