It’s that time of year when a comforting quiet and stillness comes over our mountain home, the fog hangs low over the ranges and there is a sharp smell of dry eucalyptus on the wind. We pile logs and stoke the fireplace, and of course, at the beginning and the end of each day, we light a candle. As each winter rolls around (far too quickly), we are reminded of the Danish concept of ‘hygge’ – a word which doesn’t translate directly into English but is used to describe feelings of complete cosiness and a kind of wellbeing taken in enjoying simple comforts of life. Ugg boots are hygge. Slow cookers are hygge. Experiencing gratitude is hygge. Candles, are of course, the most hygge of all, for their ability to quickly foster what is central to the concept – a warm and homely atmosphere. Considering Denmark is consistently ranked in the top three “happiest” nations*, we think it’s worthwhile taking their lead when it comes to the darker time of year. We feel that in order to be ‘hygge’ in an Australian context, we must embrace the allure of ‘The Great Indoors’. It’s something we love preparing to do each winter, so we’ve outlined the key areas and advice for how best to embrace a bit of Hygge in Southern Wild Co. style this season.
We feel that in order to be ‘hygge’ in an Australian context, we must embrace the allure of ‘The Great Indoors’.
Rearrange your home
Ask yourself, where are the sources of light during the day? It’s critical for our health and our sense of wellbeing that we access as much natural light as possibly during the wintertime. Are we centred around the fireplace? Is there a nook housing a particularly comfy chair that I like to cosy up in? Find the spots in your home that bring you joy and accentuate them by making them the focal points of your space. You could also decorate with gumnuts, dried foraged leaves, pinecones, things you collect from winter walks in the bush with the dog or find hanging over fences in suburban alleyways.
Winter can provoke hibernation, but we are social beings and ultimately crave interaction at times, even if we don’t know it! Planning a dinner at home in advance with friends is a lovely way to embrace a sense of hygge. Dedicate an afternoon, or a day if you can, to focus on the preparation of a warming, nourishing meal for friends or family.
Take a break
Whether your hot drink of choice be a strong cup of tea, a creamy coffee, a spicy chai or a rich cacao, having a time of day that is ritualised by your favourite drink can be surprisingly meaningful and rewarding. We consider this time a sort of daily meditation. If you’re at work, take part of your break to sit quietly in the winter sun for five minutes with a cuppa and a favourite book or magazine in hand, or if at home, set your alarm for 3pm, since this is a time of day where most of us can feel a little scattered.
Whether it be the burning of candles, essential oils or the natural aroma that fills the air around a bouquet of flowers, scent can have a big impact on our mood and the darkness of winter is the time to remember this. Fresh seasonal scents such as citrus fruits, bergamot and eucalyptus are all uplifting fragrances. You could try complementing these with warmer scents with woody notes like pine and cedarwood to create a hygge atmosphere.
Scent can have a big impact on our mood and the darkness of winter is the time to remember this.
We all have ideas about the kinds of activities we wish we could do more of – winter is the time to slow down and do them. Whether it be reading that stack of books we’ve had piled by the bedside for months too long or spending time journalling or sketching, try to make a regular time in your week to engage with these. We find that early mornings and late evening allow for this kind of space and quiet creativity, and our ideal spot to do them is sitting by the fireplace, warm and cosy.