Cosy up for the colder months Hygge style
If you stumble upon the Danish word hygge, which was shortlisted as Oxford’s 2016 Word of the Year, chances are you might have a hard time pronouncing it or explaining it correctly. Google the word, and you will come across tons of activities, from gathering around the fireplace, drinking hot chocolate, and eating hearty meals to snuggling up under layers of warm quilts and blankets. But hygge is much more than what it looks like – it’s ultimately a psychological concept facilitating more connection and happiness.
Pronounced “hoo-gah”, for the Danes, hygge evokes warmth, cosiness, and all the simple pleasures in life. Picture time spent anywhere quiet, with people you care about or by yourself, enjoying several activities to unwind and take things slow. Why is hygge such an embedded part of Danish culture? Despite four months of temperatures often dropping below zero and only seven hours of sunlight a day, Denmark has been one of the world’s happiest countries for years, according to the World Happiness Report (New Zealand rounded out the top 10 in 2022).
Hygge is believed to be one of the secrets for the Danes’ happiness, as it helps carry the country through the harsh, long Northern European winter. It is no surprise that winter is the prime time for hygge, as this way of life encourages people to create their own sanctuary. A recent study in Norway suggested that positive thought patterns in winter, like “I think there are a lot of nice things to look forward to in the coming months”, were linked to life satisfaction and positive emotions.
When colder months are fast approaching in New Zealand, it feels just right to revisit hygge and experiment with new habits and activities of this lifestyle. Read on to find out how seniors can embrace hygge, when they need more than just vitamin D to avoid the winter blues.
Create a cosy nook
Hygge is all about warmth and cosiness, so why not help older people create a comforting winter haven? Consider using essential oils to set the ambience, like lavender or eucalyptus, as they bring a lovely, soothing aroma to the home. Extra pillows and blankets, like a comfy polar fleece blanket, also keep the chills at bay, and ultimately help your loved ones sleep better. Another idea is to get a soft sherpa fleece chair cover to make reading time much more enjoyable, or a customised occasional chair if you’re looking for an item to brighten their space and breath some life into it.
Enjoy the outdoors together
Practising a hygge lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to be secluded! Take your loved ones out for a nature walk. Staying active and keeping in touch with others can lift their spirits in colder months. To enjoy the outdoors safely, consider using a wheel chair, a rollator, or a walking stick with a comfortable hand grip and sturdy design for extra support. Don’t forget socks and gloves, especially if your loved ones have arthritis. Our Radius shop sells socks and gloves that are specifically designed for people with arthritis, so they’re not only great at keeping hands and feet warm but also increasing circulation and reducing pain.
Plan for quality time
When days are short and sunlight is reduced, many older people will be in low moods and miss their loved ones even more. Bonding with family and friends is an essential part of a hygge lifestyle, so make sure that you plan enough “we time” to foster togetherness. The bonding activities can be very simple – think playing board games, listening to music, doing a crossword, as long as they happen in a relaxing, intimate atmosphere. And when was the last time you completely switched off your technological devices to be fully in present with your elderly loved ones?
The essence of hygge is the small joys in everyday existence, and practising gratitude can give our mental health a boost. When it’s grey and cold, remind your parents or grandparents to be grateful for little things. Encourage them to keep a gratitude journal and jot down three things they’re thankful for each day. This is a great way to track happiness and savour simple pleasures.
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