When we entered the new decade of 2020, we had no idea that we would soon be indefinitely confined to our homes, and that the words 'pandemic' 'flatten the curve' and 'social distancing' would become the most-used words in our vocabulary. One day when we're old and grey, we're going to tell our future generations about the time a microorganism caused the entire world to come to a complete standstill.
But today, we're still fighting the battle against the deadly coronavirus, which has infected 862,766 people and killed 42,534 of them worldwide.
Social distancing is the best way to keep yourself and others safe, but it can quickly turn into a lonely experience because we thrive on social contact. So instead of going down a spiral of negativity, all we can do is try to make the best of our time spent indoors. And we say it's the best time practice Hygge!
Everyone and their grandmother is probably familiar with the term 'hygge' by now, which became a major lifestyle trend last year. For the uninitiated, allow us to explain: Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) "is the art of creating a nice atmosphere, taking things slow and enjoying the simple pleasures of life,” according to Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Denmark and bestselling author of “The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living.”
And what's a better time to practise hygge than when you have literally no option than to slow things down? The Danes, and other Nordic countries, have mastered the art of making your home the cosiest place on the planet and deriving joy out of the little things--like curling up with a book and some hot chocolate or spending the evening playing board games with your family.
Danes and Norwegians have been practicing this for 200 years. For countries that are cold, dark, overcast and gloomy for the majority of the year, how do they manage to continually rank highest on the World Happiness Index, year after year? The answer is hygge--the concept was created as a survival mechanism--an “antidote,” as Wiking said, to the harsh Nordic winter and the “duvet of darkness” that envelops it.
Okay, hygge sounds great. But how do you incorporate it into your life during a time of complete lockdown? Thankfully, you don't need to leave your house to make it more hygge-friendly. We're here to help.
The key element to creating a hygge environment is to focus on lighting--and this means doing away with any harsh, bright white lights. So leave your tube lights alone for a while, and gather all your lamps (with dim yellow light only!)--yes, even the ones you don't use anymore. Now, place them at various corners of the room, so that the light is evenly scattered. If you don't have enough lamps, bring out the fairy lights--put one string on the borders of your room or place them in mason jars at scattered corners. It's all about creating the right mood. When your house feels cosy enough, you can stop going overboard with the lights.
You thought we were done with lighting? Well, you were wrong. Reportedly, every Dane burns on average 3.5kg of candles a year. And while that might not be the best option for your lungs, a little candle burning can lead to a lot of joy. Lighting a pleasant-smelling candle is known to have a relaxing effect on people, and is great for stress relief. On an average, Danes are known to light four-five candles at a time. Given the air pollution in India, we'd recommend that you stick to one or two candles in your favourite fragrance.
If you can have a dedicated station for your work, then why not create a cosy corner for you to unwind? If you want to practice hygge, it is very important to have a comfy nook in your house. Pick a place that is ideally not in your bedroom, and do it up with all of your favourite things--a warm blanket, fluffy cushions, a pile of your favourite magazines--the works. And don't forget to add candles and a warm beverage. Cuddling with your pet is optional but recommended.
Now that you're working from home, you finally have the option to say goodbye to womankind's mortal enemy--the devious, uncomfortable bra. But don't just stop there. Hygge is all about the comfort, so slip into your cosiest, comfiest PJs. Tie your hair up in a bun. Put on a face mask. The most important thing is to feel cosy and comfortable in your own skin.
When was the last time you sat down by yourself and enjoyed sipping on your coffee in complete silence? Mindfulness is an important aspect of hygge, so instead of glugging down coffee in the morning or chomping down lunch while you work, set time aside to mindfully eat your food and pay attention to every tiny detail. Don't feel guilty about enjoying a piece of chocolate cake after dinner, life is short, so why deprive yourself of these simple pleasures?
I think by now you must've had a faint idea of the concept of hygge--it's all about focussing on enjoying life as it comes, and not feeling guilty about doing things that make you happy. Our parting words of wisdom? Try ALL of these activities together, to reach peak hygge. Hey, in times like these, forget about the rules and just focus on keeping yourself happy.
Once you try hygge, we promise that you'll come out of this lockdown a completely changed person.