The hygge life

Have you noticed it’s a little darker when your alarm goes off in the morning? That brisk chill that reminds you bare ankles probably aren’t a good idea anymore? The overwhelming urge to cancel social plans and just eat biscuits on the sofa? If you’re anything like us, your natural reaction to these tell tale signs that winter is on its way is to assume the brace position and buckle up for a rough ride until spring creeps around once more and the nation lets out a collective sigh of relief.

October is the month when the clocks go back and the nights draw in. (Spare a thought for the Petalon studio members and all other florists who have to prioritise the flowers’ needs and have no central heating!) But it’s not all doom and gloom, in fact we’re here to talk about how to make the most of those shorter days and fend off those winter blues.

One part of the world that seems to have winter-living sussed (as well as lots of other things) is Scandinavia. You’ve likely heard of - and failed to accurately pronounce - the Danish word ‘hygge’, which roughly translates to a feeling or quality of cosiness, contentment or well-being, although it’s widely acknowledged that a direct translation to other languages is hard because it encompasses so much more than words - it’s a feeling. With winters that see 17 hours of darkness and accompanying average temperatures of zero degrees, it’s impressive that Denmark and Iceland still compete for top spot for the world’s happiest country.

Natural light, whether experienced outdoors in indoors, has a direct link to mental health and general well-being, so it’s no wonder the winter months can bring on the blues. And although it may seem counter-intuitive once the temperature has dropped, Scandinavian countries combat this by spending as much time outside as possible during daylight hours, to maximise exposure to light. Once the light has faded they don’t see the dark hours as something to endure, in fact they embrace it. Candle light, blankets, fires, hot chocolate and indulging your sweet tooth and taking pleasure in it, instead of binging and then piling on the guilt as is so common in this culture, is all part of this hygge way of life. After all, you’ve earned it if you’ve been hiking or cross-country skiing all day.

It’s what you might call self-care - exercise, fresh air, socialising, prioritising mental health and taking pleasure in the simple things in life. If you’re looking to be a bit more hygge this winter, Our Parks is a wonderful initiative set up to help you get outside and get fit for free. They run outdoor classes with trained instructors across 10 different boroughs, from Hackney to Waltham Forest, to Hammersmith and Fulham and each borough has a choice of locations. Hackney borough includes one of our favourite London parks, Clissold Park, which also happens to be in our postcode of the month, N16. So although the drop in temperature can bring on a drop in energy, if you can bring yourself to get outside, soak up some fresh air and do a bit of exercise, then curling up on the sofa later with your favourite treat will feel so much sweeter. And so much more hygge, darling.

And as the Norweigan saying goes, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes”.

Florence Hill