The season for Hygge
For most of the year, we move along at mach five. There’s little opportunity to catch our breath. We spend our energy navigating the negative people in our lives and on things we can’t control. The holiday break doesn’t improve the situation; tighter deadlines, compacted workloads, and pending family obligations turn the season into a stress-filled marathon that can make the rest of the year seem like a cakewalk.
This never-ending stress can, in turn, play havoc on our mental health. Wonderful people turn ugly when dosed with too much cortisol. By the end of the year, we can find ourselves going back over the year to figure out when exactly we turned into a burnt-out, depressed asshole.
‘Tis the season to undo the damage.
Contentment in the time of anxiety
Light a fire (or put on Shaw’s yuletide log), grab a cup of coffee and settle in for a season of self-care. (Snowball-making optional but highly recommended.) This is the making of hygge, the Scandinavian lifestyle encouraging hibernal hibernation. Pronounced “hoo-guh”, the practice cultivates a state of contentment. Coziness is key where hygge is concerned.
As much as I’m attracted to the idea of high-level cozification, I’m more interested in the origin of the word hygge. It derives from a sixteenth-century Norwegian term, hugga, meaning “to comfort” or “to console”. You could say the philosophy is less about donning a cozy sweater and more about wrapping yourself in self-compassion.
Choose what you pay attention to
Establishing a habit of self-care this holiday season takes more than donning reading socks, it takes mental reprogramming. Pay attention to what you’re thinking about. Listen to your inner monologue. Get into the habit of choosing what you think about every moment. Don’t give your mental bandwidth to anyone who disrespects you. Set boundaries in your mind. Be kind to yourself. Cross-examine your thoughts and fears. Ask yourself The Four Questions. Use a mantra to snap yourself out of negative loops. Say to yourself, “We don’t have time for this.”
And if after all this you still find yourself thinking about things that don’t deserve your time, talk to someone about it.
This season, embrace the concept of hygge to make yourself mentally cozy.
“We get what we pay attention to.
Our narration determines what we experience and what we remember.
If your narration isn’t helping you, perhaps it pays to focus on something else.”
– Seth Godin