17 Ways to Keep Warm This Winter
Braider Lauren Laws is a local practitioner of Hygge, which is something that can come in handy during the dreary winter season. Read on to learn about how Hygge can make winter life a little better.
According to Denmark Tourism, “Hygge actually comes from a Norwegian word meaning ‘well-being.’ It first appeared in Danish writing in the 18th century and has been embraced by the Danes ever since! Hygge is a tricky word to define, it’s a feeling, an experience, a sensation. It means creating a warm atmosphere. It is enjoying the good things in life with good people.”
I am not Danish, but I love to be cozy so if you follow with me I will teach you Hygge according to me. Winter can be rough. It can make you clinically SAD or just plain bummed out. But embracing Hygge means that dark doesn’t have to be dreary and cold doesn’t have to be miserable.
I first noticed this when I spent a few days in Hungary in the winter. It was cold. Very cold. And it got dark (and colder) at 4pm. If you braved the cold and went outside there were meat and potatoes you could buy on just about any corner and big furry hats at local markets to keep you warm. Hot drinks were available and people were outside enjoying themselves.
In American culture we may look at Hygge as how we act around Christmas. At Christmastime we drink hot cocoa and watching fuzzy-feeling Hallmark movies. We have friends over for food and dessert and don’t count calories. We light candles and put up Christmas lights. Do yourself a favor and turn off your harsh overhead lighting in favor of candles (real or fake, no judgment here), lamps, Christmas lights, or a fire.
If you don’t have a real fire you can look one up on Netflix or YouTube and play it off your laptop. It surprisingly has a similar effect even without the warmth. Himalayan salt lamps are not only trendy but give off the same glow as a fire.
The real winter blues usually come after Christmas when we pack up all the coziness, stop watching movies and listening to jazzy music, and get on with our lives. Even worse, we tend to make impossible goals for ourselves and watch awards shows. Comfort and joy shouldn’t stop after the Christmas season ends, especially as we try and navigate the frozen months of January and February.
When you wake up take a few moments before you start working to enjoy some tea or your morning beverage of choice. Hold a mug in your hands and only focus on the one thing at hand (bad pun intended).
After work take time to appreciate something as monotonous as making dinner. When it gets dark at 5pm it’s easy to want to just give up after the work day. Making a meal gives us an opportunity to appreciate the smells, tastes, and touch of the ingredients. We can refocus our senses if we pay attention to what we’re experiencing. The daily drudgery can become a joy and an art form if we simply take a few moments to enjoy it.
Sometimes when we get in a slump or funk it seems like the only way out is to make a drastic life change or go on a vacation to Hawaii. But a cheaper and simpler way is to learn to love the everyday tasks and see the moments of beauty in simple, everyday things. This is a habit that we can repeat every day. We can find comfort in rituals. It’s a sustainable way to be happy.
You can also find something that you like that you can only do during the winter, whether it’s skiing, wearing giant sweaters, or walking outside without sweating. Focus on the positive things about winter.
- Make delicious baked things. Eating is great but baked things also smell amazing and warm up your kitchen.
- Drink hot drinks. Make your own and appreciate the process of heating water and stirring. Notice the feel and smell. Or go out and order your drink to stay. Take time to enjoy the ambiance of a coffee shop.
- Enjoy your shower. Notice how the hot water feels. Get soap and shampoo that you love the smell of. Appreciate the time you spend alone with your body. Pamper yourself with scrubs and lotions that combat dry winter skin. Take an extra moment to do a hair or face mask. Massage your face or your hands or legs. Adding just a couple minutes of self-pampering to your daily routine can be a ritual that brightens your day and refocuses your mind.
- Rescue a dog (or cat, if that’s your thing) and force it to sleep in your bed or cuddle on the couch with you. Laying with or petting an animal can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol (science says so). *If you’re not ready to commit to a pet you can get a hot water bottle or heating pad to snuggle with instead or the headless cat pillow that wags its tail from Japan.*
- Wear flannel and other materials that are soft and fuzzy.
- Do yoga. Go out to one of the great yoga studios we have in Provo or stay in and do YouTube yoga.
- Eat delicious food that is warm and fills you up. Soup. Eat lots of soup. Follow recipes from the book Soup for Syria and you will feel warm in your stomach and your heart.
- Keep friends and family close who might suffer from seasonal (or otherwise) depression. Feed them comfort food and hot drinks and watch movies or play games by the fire.
- Have meaningful conversations.
- Find ways to give back. It’s not just about your body being warm, it’s about your soul being warm.
- Did I mention blankets? Buy way too many blankets. Or just stare at pictures of blankets like I do on my Pinterest board. Put so many blankets on your bed that you can’t move. Sit by your heating vent and put your blanket over it so all the hot air goes straight to you. I learned this around age four and it’s served me well into my adult life.
- Throw fashion norms aside and embrace the Snuggie or adult onesies. Wonder Woman isn’t afraid of the winter months and you don’t have to be either.
- Find the fuzziest, thickest socks you can and then tuck your pants/leggings into your socks so the cold can’t get you. These and these look pretty great.
- When you come home you can put on some slippers that look like whales. I mean, if whales with tails don’t make you smile I don’t know what will.
- You can add fleece-lined leggings under your jeans and no one will know they might add a little bulk, but they’re worth it.
- For maximum warmth buy a bodysuit that covers everything!
- Lastly, bathrobes. A wise friend of mine once said a bathrobe will become your best friend. I thought they were just for people my mom’s age but you can throw a nice cozy bathrobe over whatever you’re wearing and it’s like a warm hug from a good friend.
Hygge isn’t just about candles and socks. I listed several things that are Hygge to me, but remember it’s a feeling not a checklist. You may cultivate this feeling differently than I do because Hygge is about being happy. It’s about appreciation for the moments in our lives even in settings that aren’t ideal. It’s about loving the people around us. It’s about embracing and finding light and comfort even on the darkest and coldest nights. It’s a state of mind we can take with us when we face our personal, metaphorical winters and dark nights. During difficult times (whether they happen in winter or not) we can create our own warmth and embrace the changing seasons in our lives.
How do you keep cozy during the winter months? Tell us about it in the comments. Happy Hygge-ing!