Has winter given you a case of the blues?
A touch of cabin fever? Consider this cold, dark, blustery season a gift. Think of it as an opportunity to slow down, turn inward, and cocoon at home.
The Danish concept of “hygge” (pronounced hoo-guh) is being embraced worldwide. The term refers to creating a relaxed, inviting environment that makes you happy to curl up, away from the cold.
Take a cue from the Danes, and try these easy tips for warming up your home and body during the long winter months.
Have a spa day indoors. Forget about going out in the cold to an expensive day at the spa, and pamper yourself in the comfort of your own home.
A long, hot bath is especially satisfying in winter. Play relaxing music, dim the lights, and arrange candles around the tub. Throw in flower petals, orange peels or any bath products that you have. To soothe dry skin, put oatmeal in a nylon stocking and run it under the spout.
It’s easy to concoct natural face masks out of ingredients in your kitchen. Mix together yogurt and honey for a facial, and don’t forget cucumber slices over the eyes. For a salon-style treatment, comb coconut or olive oil through your hair.
Make warm drinks that are enjoyed around the world.
From Chinese “leung cha” medicinal tea to South American yerba mate, there’s a wide world of hot drinks out there. Many of these international beverages are made with healthful and delicious ingredients, with properties that encourage heating in the body.
“Glühwein,” or mulled wine, is a favorite throughout northern Europe. In a saucepan, heat red wine with spices (cinnamon sticks, clove, star anise), lemon and orange slices, and a touch of honey. For a non-alcoholic version, swap the wine for berry tea or pomegranate juice.
Indonesians warm up with “bajigur,” a soothing coconut milk and ginger drink. In Japan, traditional matcha (whisked green tea powder) is a winter staple. You can also have fun decorating hot chocolate with Japanese-style bunny faces and ears.
A few decor tweaks in your home can elevate your comfort levels. Decluttering is the first step: discard items that, in the words of organizing expert Marie Kondo, no longer “spark joy.” When a room is free of excess, it feels calm and inviting.
To make the most of daylight, create a cozy window perch where you can look out and sip tea. At night, soften the room with candles or light up the fireplace if you have one.
Natural textures create instant hygge. Danish decoration tips include surrounding oneself with plants, and making centerpieces out of such forest materials as pinecones. Don’t forget to arrange comfortable throws and pillows around your favorite lounging areas.
GET UP AND DANCE
Work out with video games and apps. Chilly weather makes many of us reluctant to hit the gym or exercise outdoors. However, you can still break a sweat and have fun in front of the TV.
Video game consoles, including Wii and Xbox, have developed fitness games that track your movements. Gather a group of friends and follow along with “Just Dance” choreography until you reach “superstar” status. You can also get moving to Wipeout (obstacle courses), Zumba, and P90X.
Online fitness is popular. You can stream hundreds of classes, taught by top instructors. Many programs offer free one-month trial subscriptions, including YogaGlo and Beachbody On Demand. YouTube also has plenty of videos that teach barre, Pilates, kickboxing and other workouts.
Get stylish with loungewear. Hygge extends to feeling good about what you wear at home. Why not brighten up your winter wardrobe with a few comfortable yet chic pieces? Seek out sweaters with whimsical prints, such as the holiday loungewear collections by online purveyors Wildfox and UNIF. Or find a robe and slippers decorated with your favorite cute character. If you enjoy sewing and knitting, this is a chance to treat yourself with new accessories.
Spend cozy time with pets. They tend to be extra snuggly this time of year. Spoil your furry friends with a long grooming session, and then take portraits of them with holiday lights and costumes.
Cats and dogs can be delighted by a cardboard box with cut-outs, or a cozy fort made from bedsheets. If it’s snowing outside, make a snowman for them to investigate. And of course, cuddle up. Our animal friends naturally seem to understand the joys of cocooning in winter. •