I TOOK A 7 DAY HYGGE CHALLENGE - AND THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED
As most of you know, I feel that a big chunk of living your best life involves the act of self-care. I mean, no one is as awesome as you, right? And how are you going to spread that awesomeness out into the world if you don’t take care of yourself?
The fact is you can’t. It’s not possible. You can’t make a withdrawal from an empty account. So self-care isn’t selfish, it’s necessary.
And in today’s over-scheduled world of glorified busyness, it’s something that sadly gets put on the back burner.
The good news is we can change that.
And I’m going to help you do just that by kicking it off myself.
I practice what I preach, my friends. And today I’m going to be preachin’ about hygge. That’s right, I said hygge. Have you ever heard of it? No?
Well for those of you that don't know, hygge (pronounced hue-guh) is a Danish word that basically describes a Scandinavian way of life. It encompasses coziness, warmth, time with loved ones, relaxation, and finding appreciation in the little things in life. Picture snuggling next to a fire with blankets, hot drinks, and loved ones. That's hygge.
Sounds kind of perfect, right? Well the Danish credit it for their happy, stress-free way of life. And they must know what they're talking about because they consistently rank as one of the happiest countries in the world. (Makes you wonder where the United States ranks ... On second thought, I don't want to know.)
I found all of this very intriguing. So, in the quest for better self-care, I discovered a 7-day hygge challenge and decided to go all in. I needed to see what the big hub-bub was all about.
MONDAY: Cook dinner, turn on music, and eat by candlelight
Ideally, this would have been done with my boyfriend. But since he lives in the UK and is in bed by the time I eat dinner, I knew I would be eating a music-filled, candlelight dinner alone.
Good thing I like myself or it would have been really awkward. *smirk giggle*
It actually wasn’t so bad. I made myself tacos (low-carb day!), sat down next to a lit candle, turned some tunes on, and ate dinner by myself.
And you know what? It was so peaceful and nice! I could actually feel myself relaxing. My mind wasn’t being overcome by some TV show. I wasn’t trying to get work done while simultaneously stuffing my face with food. I didn’t scroll through my phone to keep myself occupied.
I took notice of my surroundings. I began to live in that moment instead of going through a rewind of my day or worrying about what I was going to do next. I began to think about things that made me happy.
Was I surprised by all of this? You betcha. But pleasantly surprised.
The challenge had started off on a great note.
TUESDAY: Buy some flowers or a plant to add some greenery indoors
This one actually made me a bit nervous. There’s not an ounce of a green thumb in my entire body. So I knew whatever poor living thing I bought was heading to my house to die. But I swore I’d give it a good go.
Surprisingly, Target had a bunch of calla lilies for sale on the day I happened to be thinking of buying a plant, so I took it as a sign and bought a purple one.
And wouldn’t you know it, I took a lot of pride in that thing! Every time a new bloom would appear, my boyfriend got a new picture sent to him. (He’s seriously such a trooper). My kid would get dragged into the room to look upon the plant with awe. (Again, he’s a trooper as well)
The point is, the plant did bring happiness into my home… as weird as that sounds to me.
Well… that is until it finally gave up and went to plant heaven several weeks later. I hope it’s happy and blooming free now. I will always think of it fondly.
WEDNESDAY: Have a screen-free evening with board games or curled up with a good book
As someone who’s been doing a lot of freelance writing in the evenings, I knew I had to plan ahead for this one. Getting my assignments completed before Wednesday made it possible to relax when I knew it was time.
But once that was out of the way, the book nerd in me found this one heaven. My sofa, my blanket, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and I had a very relaxing evening together.
THURSDAY: Create something. You could bake cookies, write a poem, sketch, or knit
Thursday I took it upon myself to step outside my comfort zone and bake cookies from scratch! Something I don’t think I have accomplished since I was a kid.
Since I don’t cook, I had to go to the grocery store and pick up absolutely everything (um… the price of vanilla extract?!? Wasn’t expecting that). It was kind of fun though. Filling my cart with actual ingredients felt like I was "adulting" all over the place.
And though I can’t say the baking process was relaxing in the slightest, I had a good time. It was a break from the norm… and I was left with snickerdoodles as far as the eye could see. (Bonus: my place smelled amazing)
Some things are worth the carbs.
FRIDAY: Watch a film with family or friends with lots of cozy blankets and hot beverages
This one wasn’t a stretch for me at all. I love watching movies with cozy blankets and drinks, even in the dead of summer.
However, the weather was bad that night, so I had to watch a movie by myself. I didn’t mind, though. This introvert digs that sort of thing.
Quite honestly, it was a perfect Friday night in.
SATURDAY: Savor a leisurely morning with breakfast in bed, candles, and a book or craft
This one I may have cheated on a bit. There just wasn’t anything appealing to me about eating in bed. Knowing me, I would have spilled something. And who wants to spend a Saturday morning changing sheets? Didn’t quite seem hygge to me.
So I went to the next closest thing – my couch.
Belgian waffles, bacon, a Diet Dr. Pepper (my version of coffee), blankets… Again, for this carb loving introvert, you can’t get much better than that.
SUNDAY: Head outdoors for a long walk to enjoy nature. You could go to a local park or hiking trail, or simply explore your neighborhood
Did I mention the weather wasn’t playing nice that weekend? There wasn’t much I could do about that, so I did the best I could do with what I had… I placed my calla lily plant next to me and took a virtual walk through Old Town Prague on Google Street View.
Does that technically count? Likely not. But I still found it relaxing, enjoyable, and I learned how to walk from my hotel to the Astronomical Clock when I’m there soon.
I think hygge would be ok with that.
Gettin’ Hygge With It
I’ll admit I went into this with skepticism, even with as much of a cozy-night-in-homebody as I am. However, the act of “unplugging”, living in the moment, enjoying those around you, and carving out time in the day for YOU is nothing to “side-eye”.
The Scandinavians really know what's up. The world could use some more love and hygge. Someone should put that on a t-shirt.