Understanding Hygge and How To Incorporate It Into Your Life

People often assume that daily stress and anxiety are part of existence, that there is no way around or resolving the emotional struggles of life, but is that true? To a certain extent, pressure and emotional wear are routine; however, that does not mean you cannot alter it or reduce your psychological interaction with it.

For centuries, people have practiced mindfulness to take back control from corrosive emotions that drain feelings of happiness and acceptance. The practices and techniques used to accomplish this task vary, such as yoga or meditation, but at the heart of every exercise is finding equilibrium with life, work, socialness, relationships, and everything that makes you who you are.

Despite dating back to the 18th century, hygge — pronounced “hue-guh” or “hoo-gah” — is beginning to dominate the mindfulness generation. People are claiming health, psychological, and social benefits from the practice based on cozy living. To learn more, the remainder of this article will focus on defining hygge and examining some of the benefit claims, wrapping up with how to implement the practice in your own life.

Understanding Hygge

Hygge, a quality of coziness that promotes a feeling of contentment and well-being, originates in Danish culture. It is the practice of focusing on peace, comfort, and coziness in your daily life. To experience hygge, participants must create a warm atmosphere with positive attributes and share that atmosphere with good people who ultimately contribute to optimistic feelings.

While the description can seem a little vague — create a happy place for happy people — in practice, hygge offers profound improvements on both mental and physical health. It would seem that the focused act of finding and cultivating positivity and comfort leads to comparable feelings, leading to the reduction of stress and anxiety.

Advantages of the Practice

Hygge promotes a healthy and calm lifestyle, which, in turn, creates opportunities for psychological, health, and social benefits. For most people, the assumption that hygge can lead to improved mental health seems obvious. Focusing on comfort and serenity, your body naturally responds with less stress, leading to less depression and anxiety risks. Even more profound, hygge can lead to improved self-worth, increased optimism, and a practice of gratitude and compassion.

With routine practice, hygge expands on these emotional benefits with real health advantages. People who practice hygge claim they experience improved sleep and self-care, less dependence on alcohol and drugs, and sustained dietary practices, like weight regulation.

An unexpected benefit of hygge is an improved social life. Since the practice encourages comfort and emotional safety, practitioners are more inclined to build and nurture stable relationships with family, friends, and coworkers. Since people feel more comfortable and safe with hygge, they tend to be more trusting, intimate, and more in-tune with in-person interactions.


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Incorporating Hygge Into Your Daily Life

Incorporating hygge into your daily routine is not challenging. You can use several techniques for both home and the office. For example, at home, try incorporating one or all of the following:

  • Neutral colors

  • Soft textures (blankets, pillows, rugs, etc.)

  • Plants

  • Wood elements

  • Personal items (family pictures, art, etc.)

  • Fireplace or candles

  • Warm, soft lighting

  • Casual gatherings with friends and loved ones

In the office, it can be a little more challenging to customize your space. However, you can consider some or all of the following:

  • Accent lamps with soft white bulbs

  • Area rug

  • Family pictures

  • Potted succulent plant

Hygge is a useful tool that contributes to a person’s emotional, physical, and social health. The key to any mindfulness technique, however, is finding peace within yourself. Do you practice hygge? Leave a comment below.

New Year, New You: How to Use Resolutions to Become a Morning Person

Woman Waking Up

Be honest: would you say you're a morning person? If the answer is a resounding no, you're not alone.
Lots of people dread waking up early or can't function until they have at least two cups of coffee coursing through their veins. While molding yourself into a chipper and cheerful morning person may seem unlikely, it's absolutely possible.

With a new year comes a renewed commitment to health, wellness, and personal goals. Like everything else, you just need to tease out those bad habits and develop a strategy for eliminating them. Here are a few great tips to help you beat the morning blues and attack every day with everything you got.

Alarm Clock

Say No to the Snooze Button

The snooze button is an evil temptress. You tell yourself "just a few more minutes", only to find that an hour has passed, and now you're late for work. While it's best to not use the snooze button at all, it can be difficult to go cold turkey completely. Once again, technology comes to the rescue. Smart alarm apps offer creative ways to snooze, including math problems that must be solved before you can secure that ten extra minutes. If you're not a math person, don't fret. The act of working out a problem can help wake up your brain, even if you don't get the correct answer.

Glass of water

Drink a Glass of Water Upon Waking

It's true that coffee is associated with a quick pick-me-up in the morning, but water is a better choice of beverage. Water rehydrates the body, fuels the brain, and gives you the burst of energy you need to function optimally in the early hours. For an even greater rejuvenating effect, make the first beverage you drink in the morning a chilly glass of ice water.

Good night


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Establish a Sleep Schedule

A consistent sleep schedule gets your body in tune with waking up early each morning. Additionally, your schedule should extend to the weekends as well, meaning if you get up at 7 am for work during the week, you should get up at the same time Saturday and Sunday. If you have problems falling asleep at a reasonable hour, develop a bedtime ritual. Avoid exercise, digital screens, and caffeine at least two hours before bedtime. Make your bedroom a work-free zone, meaning no laptops, no emails, and no texting. Try reading or taking a relaxing bath to get you in the mood for sleep.

Morning Yoga

Exercise Right After Waking Up

Much like math problems help wake up your brain, exercise helps wake up your body. Now, that doesn't mean you should pop out of bed and go run a half-marathon every morning. Something simple and low-key, like yoga or stretching exercises, should be enough to get you up and moving. There are plenty of free videos online featuring quick and easy exercises you can do each day. Fair warning, the first morning of exercise will probably be difficult. Stick to it, and you'll find each day getting easier and easier.

Cup of coffee

Invest in a Wake-Up Alarm

A bit of sunlight is just the thing to get you up in the morning. When your bedroom lacks strategically placed windows, or you're faced with a gloomy morning, a wake-up alarm is the next best thing. Also known as sunrise lamps, these devices gradually illuminate to mimic sunrise. This signals to your body that it's time to wake up, which is a more comforting process than being roused out of sleep by a blaring alarm.

Anyone can be a morning person when properly motivated. Using one or more of the above techniques can change your perspective, and your life. With the right attitude, you'll be greeting mornings with a smile before you even know it.

Do Calming Teas Really Work?

Cup of Tea on railing

If your doctor ever tells you to drink calming tea to deal with stress or help you fall asleep, he or she is a genius. First, let’s talk science. Then I’ll tell you about my personal experiences (spoiler alert: some herbs are AMAZING).

Scientists have discovered that many types of herbal tea are effective at reducing anxiety. Plenty of studies prove it. For example, green tea leaves lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. This benefit comes from special plant nutrients called catechins, tiny stress fighters. They’re like your own personal Secret Service, keeping anxiety far away from you.

Cup of tea

Valerian Root Tea at Night

First, I tried a cup of valerian root tea in the evening. I wanted something to help me unwind after a particularly stressful day trying to get my kids to apologize to each other over a broken toy.

I took a few sips and … the effects were unbelievable. I’ve never felt so genuinely relaxed and sleepy in my life. It was like that feeling you get from curling up in front of a warm fire. I slept like a baby all night long. In the morning, I woke up feeling completely refreshed.

Woman having tea in bed

Green Tea at Breakfast

Next, I decided to try drinking some green tea during the day. I’ve read studies saying that green tea helps you stay alert but also less stressed at work. For breakfast, I made myself whole-grain toast with plain cream cheese and a few sliced strawberries. As I read the news, I sipped on my green tea.

How did my work-from-home day go? First, I felt WAY less stress than normal. I even felt energized enough to throw a load of clothes in the washer while I was working. Usually, thinking of everything I have to do stresses me out in the morning, but green tea changed that. It empowered me, like I was checking things off my list one by one. My attitude and outlook were more positive, as if the whole world was brighter.


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Turmeric Tea for Avoiding a Meltdown

I love my sisters, I really do. But family members know exactly which buttons to push sometimes. Long story short, we had a smallish argument (we smoothed everything out later on Zoom and now we’re best friends again). I was crying and angry and … well, you know the drill.

That’s when I decided to try brewing an exotic turmeric tea I’d read about. It uses fresh turmeric, ginger, honey, cinnamon and peppercorns, together with some coconut milk and coconut oil. The whole kitchen smelled heavenly, and the tea tasted spicy, creamy and delicious.

It turns out that turmeric has the ability to release “happy hormones” in your brain: dopamine and serotonin. They help to fight sadness and alleviate stress. As I sat there, sipping my turmeric and honey tea, smelling the spices and feeling the warmth of the mug, my heart started beating more slowly. I felt … much better.

Turmeric Tea

Other Great Herbs and Spices for Fighting Stress

Calming herbs can help you get rid of anxiety and feel happier. They’re an amazing way of treating yourself to a moment for relaxation.

Herbal teas

Now it’s your turn. What calming teas work best for you? Are you a believer in lavender, chamomile, ashwagandha root, passionflower, lemon balm or another popular soothing variety? Share your experiences below!

Embracing Spirituality in Every Day Rituals

Everyday Spirituality

Counting calories, determining the dangers of sugar, or fighting about whether or not it's OK to have an egg a day are common health and diet debates and conversations, but ultimately, they are distractions. The objective of any person trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle is to find peace and happiness. While diet can absolutely affect mood, it is more important to deal with the psychological side of being human.

Spirituality and mindfulness are now coming to the forefront in the health and wellness community as integral components of a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, too many people put their noses up at the idea of anything sounding too religious or contemplative. Thankfully, spirituality does not mean having to submit to a new set of moral platitudes. Instead, being spiritual and mindful means being present and having a purpose. It is not hard to be more spiritual or mindful; you can do it in eight simple additions to your daily routine.

Beach and sky

1. Intention

The primary objective of spirituality is to live with purpose. Therefore, when you wake up in the morning, make an intention for the day. What do you want to focus on today? Is there something you need to address? Don't let today be empty.

Waking up with intent

2. Affirmation

Affirmations are positive and repetitive mantras that you say to yourself. Many people choose to do this in the morning while looking at their reflection, but you can do it anywhere you feel comfortable.

Affirmations
2 Minute Ritual

3. Meditation

While many people imagine people sitting cross-legged and humming to themselves, meditation does not need to be so cartoonist. Simply setting aside a few minutes every day to let yourself be without interruption is soothing. The idea is to focus on the moment and nothing else.

Meditation

4. Nature

Some studies suggest that being in nature reduces stress and anxiety in most people. It shouldn't be too surprising since ancestral civilizations thrived in the wilderness. Take time to sit outside, or go on a walk.

Nature

5. Gratitude

Did you know that showing gratitude and being thankful can make you happy? Take time out of every day to say thank you for something. You don't have to find something significant. You can even be thankful for the sun or pleasant weather.

Gratitude

6. Silence

People get caught up in the noise of life. It is hard to find silence during your workday or even at home, but finding quiet is essential. You can also use silence to enhance your relationships by listening.

Silent lake

7. Prayer

While people associate prayer with religion, it does not have to be about God or a deity. Prayer can be used as a form of meditation, affirmation or gratitude; if you have never, try sitting down in a quiet room and praying or releasing your concerns out into the universe. You may be surprised at how comforting it is.

Woman praying

8. Appreciation

While appreciation and gratitude seem synonymous, appreciation is more about relationships with people. Take a few minutes out of your day to appreciate the relationships and people you have in your life. Realize how lucky you are to have family, friends and love.

Appreciating Family

While nutrition is a significant part of your physical health, you cannot neglect your spiritual health. If you want to find happiness, embrace mindfulness and your spiritual side. Continue reading the Calorie Myths for more insight.

How I Unwind After a Stressful Day

Happy Lady

Although no one enjoys feeling stressed out, anxiety is a natural response to stressful situations. It helps us protect ourselves and be more alert to danger. However, living in the modern world probably creates more stress than is useful. Sometimes you just need to decompress, and it's important to find healthy, sustainable ways of doing that. Healthy ways of unwinding help to renew you. They don't simply make you forget your problems or make things worse in the long run.

Strategies for Renewing Your Energy

Breathwork:

You hear it everywhere these days: Practice mindful breathing. Do you know why everyone is talking about it? It's because it works, and it's not a mind trick. Studies have shown that breathing mindfully can decrease negative thoughts, reduce stress hormones in your body, and help regulate your heart rate and blood pressure.

Breathwork

Treating yourself:

No, it's not about going on a shopping spree. Instead, nourish your body and mind with something you enjoy, such as a warm cup of tea, a hot shower, listening to your favorite music, or snuggling with a partner or pet. The key is to set aside time to do these things without distractions, even if it's only for 10 minutes. Be fully present in the moment.

lady in bath

Getting your blood pumping:

You may think that raising your heart rate would make you more anxious, not help you relax, but the opposite is true. You don't need to knock yourself out running a marathon after work, but a brisk walk or a round of jumping jacks can reduce stress hormones and raise your endorphin levels.

Taking a break from bikeride

STOP going to the dentist ✋

You do not need to shell out thousands of dollars, just to keep your teeth clean and healthy. In fact, you never need to set foot in a dentist office ever again. Instead, there’s a new home remedy that’s taken the world by storm, and…

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2 Minute Ritual

Temporary Stress Relievers To Avoid

Junk food:

Although having a sweet treat is fine once in a while, reaching for processed foods every day will make you feel worse overall.

Person eating chips

Alcohol:

Some health professionals recommend a glass of wine for its physical benefits. However, if you find yourself reaching for a hard drink every time something doesn't go your way, you risk forming a dependency that's hard to break. Alcohol also clouds your judgment and is full of empty calories that can leave you feeling sluggish.

Alcohol

TV binging:

If you want to unwind while watching a movie or TV show, fine. If you find yourself staring at the screen for hours on end, though, this probably isn't the stress reliever for you. Too much TV can easily make you feel worse instead of better.

Watching TV

Procrastination:

Stress at the end of the day is bad enough. Don't make it worse by procrastinating on prepping for the next day.

Person sleeping on couch

As with anything, moderation is your best bet. Too much relaxation can cause you to get behind on things that help your life run smoothly, and once your routine is thrown out of balance, you get more stressed out. The solution here is to get organized, not to take more time off. On the other hand, structuring every minute of your day in the name of productivity is a surefire path to burnout. It's natural to get off balance once in a while. The key is to catch yourself, reexamine your priorities, and make needed adjustments.

10 Ways To Keep Your Spirits Up During the Quarantine

I’m not going to tell you to smile and act like the world isn’t completely crazy right now. Pretending that everything is perfect won’t make you feel better, but there are things you can do to keep your spirits up. So, here are 10 REALISTIC tips that have helped me enjoy some sunshine within my little plastic bubble:

1. Peel Yourself Away From the News

Constantly bombarding yourself with bad news isn’t the best way to stay happy. I finally decided to limit myself to two “news nights” a week. Doing crossword puzzles makes me happier than doomsday scenarios.

2. Set Reasonable Goals

Setting specific goals every morning is a big help in staying positive. After reaching each goal, you’ll feel like you scaled Mount Everest (my laundry pile looks that way some days). Now I feel like a wonderful wife and mother again. I recommend keeping goals small (like washing laundry) so you don’t get stressed.

3. Cut Yourself Some Slack

Don’t expect perfection of yourself right now. You’re a human being, remember? Humans have emotions and fear is one of them. Just do the best you can. Your kids aren’t going to starve because you accidentally burned the chicken.

4. Forget About Things You Can’t Control

Recognize that you can’t do anything about what’s going on across town, let alone halfway across the country. What you can do is keep yourself healthy. Do your best to take care of your family and let the rest slide.

5. Focus on Giving

Helping other people makes you happy and brings purpose to life. You don’t have to do something huge. A beautiful note or phone call can make a major difference for friends and family. Every time you bring sunshine to a loved one, you should feel proud.

6. Smell the Roses

You may not be able to literally smell roses through a cloth mask, but there are good things to celebrate. Notice little things around you every day. You may love favorite melodies, certain foods (mine’s Greek yogurt), old photographs, love letters or the way fluffy carpet feels on bare feet.

7. Spend Time on Things That Mean Something

Watching TV all day was fun for a week. Now it just makes me feel like a pajama-covered bowl of Jell-O. Recently, I’ve discovered how awesome checking things off my to-do list is. You’re looking at the proud owner of a cute home office (formerly guest bedroom/box storage area).

8. Eat Three Meals a Day

Get up at the same time every morning and EAT BREAKFAST. This helps your body and mind to enjoy a semblance of routine. As creatures of habit, humans feel way better emotionally when life has structure.

9. Try Cooking New Recipes

Take advantage of a freer schedule to dust off great cookbooks and make recipes you haven’t tried before. A delicious menu with fresh fruit and veggies, proteins rich in Omega-3 and mood-enhancing spices such as ginger is just what the doctor ordered.

10. Connect With One Person a Day

With everyone sharing humorous videos constantly, feeling pressured to respond to messages instantly can stress instead of help. Instead, call or text one person a day. Laugh together, cry and really talk. That’s what friends are about.

Don't forget how important healthy nutrition is right now. Eating right increases levels of serotonin and dopamine — your brain’s happiness hormones. Salmon, poultry, spinach, eggs, milk and nuts are natural depression-fighting superfoods.