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.

candle lanterns with fire
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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.

pastries on clear glass display counter
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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.

white couch on wooden floor
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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.

Healthy Plant-Based Diet: A Guide to Minerals

With the arrival of winter, it’s important to ensure that you’re nurturing your body with all the minerals it needs. Luckily, a plant-based diet offers an abundance of nutritional value. We require certain minerals to build strong bones, teeth, boost energy levels, and allow the body to function properly. Some essential minerals for healthy nutrition include iron, vitamin C, calcium, and potassium. In winter, it’s essential to care of our immune systems. Learn how to nourish your body with minerals with this quick guide.

photo of female hand holding a bowl of green vegetables
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Iron + Vitamin C

Iron deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies in the world. Yet, it’s an essential mineral as it helps our blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. Regulating iron is important for reducing fatigue and boosting the body’s immunity. Plant-based foods rich in iron include lentils, beans, tofu, nuts and leafy greens.

A great way to help increase iron absorption is to consume iron-rich foods alongside vitamin C.  Enjoy foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, potatoes, and broccoli, as a simple way to enhance iron absorption.  In order to reap the benefits of iron, be careful of tannin-containing drinks like tea, coffee, and wine. Avoid these beverages with meals as they can inhibit iron absorption. Instead, enjoy these drinks in between meals at least an hour before eating to optimise iron absorption.

silver heart bowl filled of red pomegranate seeds
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Calcium

A well-balanced plant-based diet requires the intake of calcium. Calcium is important in order to obtain structural bone integrity. In fact, the benefits of this mineral go beyond bone health, it’s also needed for our heart, muscles and nerves to function properly. It is absolutely possible to obtain all calcium needs from a vegan or vegetarian diet. Delicious plant-based sources of calcium include black beans, tofu, seeds, fortified orange juice and fortified rice, soy, almond, coconut milk or yoghurt.

coconut filled with slice of fruits
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Potassium

Potassium is an essential mineral that the body requires for bone and heart health. According to Harvard Medical School, it regulates the heartbeat and fluid balance whilst ensuring the proper functioning of the body’s muscles and nerves. Potassium also has the power to regulate blood pressure and lower the risk of a stroke. Foods high in potassium include white beans, potatoes, beets, spinach, tomato sauce, oranges, bananas and avocados. What a great reason to fill the cupboards with fresh fruits and veggies!

flat lay photo of fruits and vegetables
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Minerals in a Nutshell

In general, focusing on whole foods like fruits, veggies, plant-based fortified milk, and legumes is a great way to make sure you’re getting enough minerals in your diet. Daily requirements of these minerals depend on age and weight among other factors so be sure to do your research for a more detailed guide.

Food Inspo

For some incredible plant-based recipes, check out nutritionist Sadia over at Pick Up Limes on YouTube. Deliciously Ella also has some amazing vegan recipes. Check out the website for some plant-based deliciousness. Who are your top sources of inspiration for plant-based recipes?

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.

christmas decors on winter background
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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?

green pine tree with white snow
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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.

three towels on brown wooden rack
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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.

brown pastry and cupcake in chopping board
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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.