When we made the decision to move back home we never really gave the difference in temperatures a thought, and then winter hit and we became very aware of that difference.
Both of us had grown accustomed to Auckland’s coastal humidity and frequent, unpredictable showers. Our home town is further south and inland, so the climate here is quite different to that of Auckland.
In winter, we often wake to find frost blanketing the backyard, and our breath swirling in clouds around us. It is rather chilly walking across the kitchen floor and condensation is constantly dripping down the windows.
On the whole, I have found the obvious shift in the seasons to be refreshing.
There is something about that visible change that seems to make me more aware of time passing and therefore, I am more mindful as each day goes by.
However, I am still not immune to the blues that many face during the winter period.
I hate how a great deal of the day is lost in darkness. I hate how I feel sluggish, slower and less motivated to get things done. I hate that my fingers get so numb that I struggle to use my keyboard.
Winter is hard.
But there are some people who know exactly how best to beat the winter blues because they have to endure much longer winters than the rest of us.
You have probably heard of ‘hygge’ by now, the Danish secrets to embracing the winter season.
In Denmark, winter is cold, long and dark. Some days they only get 7 hours of daylight and therefore, they need to find ways to help keep their spirits up, which is where hygge comes in.
Last year, I read ‘The little book of hygge’ by Meik Wiking (which is really great by the way) and in it he describes hygge as,
“an atmosphere and the experience, it is not about things. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling we are safe that we are shielded from the world…to be able to let our guard down”
In the book, Meik shares his hygge manifesto which is accompanied by lovely little drawings. I liked it so much that it is printed out and stuck on our fridge.
Since this is the first proper winter I have experienced in the past five years, I have been trying to put hygge into practice.
To make the most of this season and to keep myself in good spirits until our side of the planet warms up again.
How embracing hygge can help you beat the winter blues:
Dressing for the season
Something I love about winter is that the temperature stays relatively consistent. I can bundle up in multiple layers without worrying that by midday I’ll be too hot/cold.
The key to being cheerful in winter is dressing for the season.
Alfred Wainwright said, “there is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” I have to agree with him. I don’t mind muddy ground, icy winds or drippy rain if I am dressed for the occasion.
And the great thing about winter fashion is that simply flinging a coat and scarf on can make any outfit look stylish.
Eating seasonal produce
I am passionate about eating with the seasons. As tempting as it may be to eat tomatoes, peaches or capsicum in the winter just because we can, I choose not to.
Winter fruits and vegetables are perfect right now. They are ripe, cheap to purchase and suited to the kind of meals I’ll probably eating.
Pumpkin whizzes up perfectly into soup that warms me from the inside out. Oranges are sweet and contain vitamin C to help me fight off colds. Potatoes, onions and carrots add bulk to stews that are comforting after being outside in the chilly wind.
Eating seasonally just makes more sense.
Creating a cozy home
We have almost covered the entire perimeter of our flat in fairy lights at this point and I’m not at all sorry about it. I love the warm, soft lighting that they provide in contrast to the stark white light bulbs we currently have (that I refuse to get rid of until they blow.)
To make our home more cozy I have come to terms with the fact that there will always be a red blanket strewn haphazardly across our brown couch that clashes horrendously. You win some battles and others you must concede.
One battle I do intend to win is against that musty, wintery smell that can linger when the house stays closed up for too long. I have several room sprays that I use on rotation that work like a charm.
Chasing the sunshine
The hardest part of winter for me is the lack of sunlight. After days and days of grey skies, I start to feel really off and so I am learning to chase the sunshine.
Whenever there is even the tiniest hint of sunshine, I will sit outside and eat my lunch. I find that even those few minutes over lunchtime or while I hang my washing out on the line make a world of difference to how I feel.
There isn’t an awful lot of sunshine so you have to make the most of it while you can.
Bringing the outdoors, indoors
One of my favourite hygge ideas to adopt was including more natural elements in our home.
For me, that was just an excuse to fill our living room with plants, plants and more plants.
Having an array of houseplants brings me such peace. I love watering them and misting the fussy ones and making sure they are getting enough sunlight.
But if you lack green fingers, then other natural elements you can bring into your home could be logs, wooden furniture, pine cones, dried flowers, grasses, seed pods and woolen rugs.
Gathering with friends
Due to the bleak weather, going out in winter isn’t always possible or very enjoyable but that doesn’t mean your social life has to come to a grinding halt.
Having friends around for supper is such a nice way to spend a dreary winter night. It doesn’t have to be a big drama to host either, just get everyone to bring something to share and then you can enjoy the company without having to spend most of the evening in the kitchen.
I can’t think of a better way to raise your spirits than spending quality time with the people you love.
Hygge has taught me how to slow down and enjoy life without feeling guilty. Winter is a dormant season for many plants and animals and I think most of us need that change in pace too.
With just a smidgen of creativity, winter doesn’t have to be so dull and dreary. Try adding a little hygge and see if that helps you beat the winter blues.
If you want to print out your own hygge manifesto to stick on your fridge, you can download the graphic I made (because most of the ones I found online from the original book are awful quality.)