Most of us will have time at home this Christmas and we may even be in lockdown for a while too, so I thought I'd share some ideas on how to relax, based on the Danish 'hygge' lifestyle.
Hygge is all about finding comfort, warmth and pleasure in the simple things in life. Spending quality time with our families, enjoying a hot chocolate on a cold day, curling up with a book in your favourite armchair, or simply lighting some candles to create a cosy glow.
With our busy lives we often take for granted the simple things that can bring us pleasure. Most of us are guilty of spending far too much time on our phones, or other bits of technology that is supposed to make our lives easier or move at a faster pace. But this isn't good for our overall health and peace of mind. We actually need to switch off and enjoy our own lives. To be present in the here and now.
So this Christmas season, why not try to reconnect with simple activities and the people we love. I will list some ideas below for you to try:
Firstly, step away from your phone. Maybe try an hour or an afternoon, or hey even a whole day (eek!) without your phone. Think of all the time you will get back to actually do something, instead of scrolling! You could do this on a regular basis.
If the weather permits, go for a walk. Find a green space in the city, or go for a walk in the countryside or along the coast. Breathe in that fresh air.
Play board games with your family. There are some really great games now which really make you laugh. And we all know laughing is the best medicine.
Curl up with a cuppa and a book. Reading is one of my favourite things, but I always feel guilty if I just sit and read. I bet I'm not alone in this. So set aside an hour and get lost in a book, totally switch off from the world around you.
Winter days are short, so create a cosy glow in the late afternoons by lighting some candles. They don't have to be cost-a-lot Jo Malone candles! Just a few tea lights dotted around a room look so pretty.
Instead of setting yourself a new years resolution, (which, let's face it, most of us ditch within the first week), give yourself a moment when you wake up, or before going to bed to think about what you're grateful for that day. You may have had a rubbish day, but if you just try to pick one small good thing that you're grateful for, then it may well make you feel a bit better. It could be as simple as the traffic lights were on green all the way to work today. You could start a grateful journal.
Bake something. Set aside an afternoon and bake a delicious cake to enjoy with your family. Get them to help.
Or if baking isn't your thing, how about making jam or preserves. Design a pretty label and you could give them away as gifts. I have a freezer full of blackberries picked from hedgerows so I'm going to try jam making.
If it snows this Christmas (fingers crossed), get your wellies on and go and have some fun. Have a snowball fight, build a snowman, go sledging. Or just walk in the silence that descends when snow is on the ground.
Try new teas. There are so many delicious teas on the market now and all come with their own wellbeing benefits.
Enjoy a long, hot bubble bath. Baths for me are a real luxury as I normally don't get time, so I'm a shower person. Light some candles, pour in some bubbles and relax in the warmth. You could even read your book until you go all pruny!
Plan a weekly menu around seasonal produce. You'll probably find some new recipe ideas when doing this.
Have a picnic tea. Use up leftovers, and buy all of your favourite foodie bits and pop them all on a large sharing board and have a carpet picnic in the lounge. Delish!
Kick back and have a film afternoon or evening. Snuggle up on the sofa with your loved ones, grab a blanket or two, your favourite snacks and enjoy.
Invite friends round for a relaxed and casual dinner. Something comforting like a casserole, or go a bit retro and have a fondue. This could be a savoury cheesy dip with lots of yummy foods to dip in, or you could melt some chocolate and have it for pudding with fruit and maybe some little cake bites. Yum! (Obviously make sure everyone has done a Lateral Flow Test before sharing food).
Get crafty! This doesn't mean you have to crochet a tea cosy or cover your house in dreaded glitter. It could be something outdoors like making a den with your children, or a bug hotel. Try your hand at making candles. There are loads of candle making kits available for a reasonable price. You can then create a cosy glow at home with your own candles. That's two hygge activities in one!
As we're about to start a new year, how about starting a journal, or an ideas notebook. You could list ideas for home projects, weekend activities with your family, start to plan holidays or weekends away. Maybe you want to try something new like wild swimming? This is something I'd really like to do, but the weather needs to warm up slightly first!
Hopefully this list will help you kick start some little ways in which you can enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Wishing you all a safe, healthy and a very Happy Christmas and New Year!