On the whole, we’re a disconnected society – disconnected from ourselves, other people around us and our environment.
Not long ago, when I was younger, you’d see teenagers gathered in bus shelters or on park benches chatting, laughing, maybe enjoying the odd can of Skol and maybe one or two sneaky cigarettes, but they were connecting with one another and enjoying each other’s company. Granted, the older population used to moan about this, but isn’t it better than what we see today? Whenever people meet together now (not just teenagers, sometimes whole families), their phones go too. There often isn’t the conversation and laugher there used to be, there’s bowed heads over electronic gadgets, the odd murmur to one another, maybe a ping or two, but not always that true connection you get from being really present with each other. How sad!
Our society is now so extrospective that many people think, or rather expect, to find happiness and comfort anywhere but where they are now. There is a growing problem with distraction with more and more virtual sources of ‘enjoyment’ being crammed into every waking moment to fill time and apparently give us more enjoyment and fun. And I think this brings with it another problem…
By living our lives through an online world that’s not real, this can bring up more issues with comparison and desire, the ‘need’ for the big house or flashy car that was seen on Instagram and the growing wish list from kids who ‘must’ have the same trainers that their friends have or their footballing idol is wearing on Facebook. This then leads to people working long hours in jobs they don’t enjoy just to be able to buy the car and the house and the clothes and the luxury holiday (or at least pay off the credit card that’s paid for all these things). And that often means getting home when the children are in bed and having to work all weekend to keep on top of the ongoing excessive workload. This builds stress and discontent and potentially problems at home due to frayed tempers… and so the cycle goes on.
The average person in the UK lives around 80 years. So, I have been thinking a lot lately about this and how I spend my time and whether I am making the most of the time I have here, are you? Or are your living in an ‘if-then’ world? We can often get caught up in the habit of saying “I’ll be happy when …”, “If only we had …, we’d be content”, “After I’ve got a new Mercedes, I’ll …”? You fill in the dots. For many people that time in the future never comes and they live their lives always looking for the unattainable when in fact what they probably need most of all is right in front of their noses and they don’t even notice it. Sometimes when chasing the dream, we forget about enjoying the journey, the here and now and with all the extra time stealers we have in our world now it is hard to not get distracted and drawn into this way of thinking… but it’s not impossible.
I think the Danes have got it right. Denmark has regularly been voted one of the happiest countries in the world and I think it may be down to hygge (pronounced hue-guh).
There’s no English translation for the word ‘hygge’, and there should be, but we can sum it up with several words – cosiness, charm, happiness, contentedness, security, familiarity, comfort, reassurance, kinship and simplicity.
Hygge is all about experiences and feelings. It’s not about stuff and material possessions. It’s about ‘the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things’. It’s almost like a great big hug.
So being wrapped in a blanket sipping hot chocolate is hygge, Sunday roast dinner with all the family is hygge, your favourite Restorative Yoga pose is hygge, freshly baked bread is hygge, real coffee is hygge…you complete the list.
It’s simple really, hygge is all about the simple things in life. Everyone can afford it; it’s attainable; there’s no striving; and most importantly it’s good for you.
In fact, in Denmark, the benefits of hygge are so well known that doctors will prescribe tea and hygge for the common cold and the flu. The basic message here is look after yourself, there’s no need for Lemsip and antibiotics.
But the benefits of hygge are wider reaching than just as a cure for a runny nose.
“Research shows that people who are able to be kind to themselves rather than harshly self-critical tend to have better mental health and higher life satisfaction and allowing ourselves some hygge time to boost our own wellbeing leaves us better placed to contribute and help others.” – Dr Mark Williamson, Director of Action for Happiness
Key to hygge is spending time with family and friends, really spending time with them – no mobile phones, tablets or other electronic gadgets (remember ‘absence of anything annoying’). It’s a well known fact that our mental wellbeing is affected by the strength of our relationships with other people and hygge is all about developing closer relationships with people who are important to us – not those people who will help us to climb the corporate greasy pole, but our loved ones, friends and family.
In Denmark, hygge is a priority – and it would be great if it could be here in the UK too.
We’ve got a long way to go to catch up with Denmark in the hygge stakes, but if you’d like to make a start, why not join me and Angela Sykes for our Hygge and Yoga Luxury Escape from Thursday 16 November until Sunday 19 November.
There’s only one room left, but I think it has your name on it.
There will be candlelight, organic wine, a roaring fire in the firepit, a steaming outdoor sauna and hot tub, delicious vegetarian food, Yoga, soothing massages and the company of likeminded people, all in a beautiful setting.
Did you know that candlelight is so hygge that the Danes use more candles per head of population than anywhere else in Europe? A true fact from the European Candle Association!
Even if you can’t join us for our hygge weekend away, you can follow the lead of the Danes.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could become more hygge-focused in this country? Not only would people be happier and families more stable, but we would become a more caring and happier society as a whole.
Let’s make hygge a priority, starting by making a few changes to our mindset and setting an example to our children and those around us.
Here are a few suggestions – but unplug first, turn your phone to silent, grab a cuppa and have a read.
Some phone free time is always a good idea. Perhaps leave it at home sometimes, try not to be tempted to constantly check it. When out with friends really enjoy being present with them, appreciating who you’re with, where you are and what you have in the now.
I’d love to know how you’re incorporating hygge into your own life and what rituals you have created for being kind to yourself. Drop me a line and let me know what works for you.
If you are in need of some help in slowing down and connecting more with your own needs then maybe some lovely allwoman support is what you’re looking for?
I specialise in working with women one to one and enjoy being part of their journey of reconnection and self-discovery. I support women to find more balance and harmony in their lives by deepening their inner connection to their own body’s needs, helping them cope pre-conception, with fertility issues, prenatally, postnatally or during times of transition, grief or loss and helping alleviate the symptoms of menstruation, perimenopause or menopause.
If you need more hygge in your life and feel you would benefit from some nurturing allwoman support, please get in touch.
I use the incredible healing, calming, strengthening and restorative power of yoga to help you find the balance you need, no matter what stage of life you’re at. I couple this with Mizan massage, belly binding, birth preparation and doula services to support you as needed.