Invite your family or friends to wear the most comfortable clothes they have. You don't want to be tugging at your clothes or fixing your look during the day and neither does anyone else. Make it more about feeling comfy than looking good.
You could even have a "best cozy slippers" contest. Make it low-key & fun!
(2) Sink into Softness & Cozy Up
Provide throws, blankets and pillows that make your family or friends feel surrounded by warmth & comfort. You'll feel it, too, and the day will be filled with cozy moments.
"Adding soft blankets and plush pillows is another great way to easily increase your home’s cozy factor. There is no need to go for a strictly Scandinavian look—your space must represent you and your style to facilitate a hygge experience." ~ Food52.com
(3) Offer Hot Chocolate Coziness
Something hot and delicious to drink. Hot chocolate, tea or even coffee. And an atmosphere that makes you and everyone else feel welcomed and comforted.
(4) Add Candles
Soft lighting & the warm glow of candlelight will add another hygge touch to your Thanksgiving experience. Do make sure the candles are in safe places so you won't have to worry about them, especially if the day will bring the company of children or pets.
"Interior surroundings are treated as an extension of self
and a calm refuge from winter temperatures.
Lighting as a whole is very important to Danes, who prefer to create hygge 'zones' using soft pools of light. Warm-toned lighting from ambient sources, such as lamps, are much preferred to harsh overhead bulbs." ~ Janice Blakeley, Food52
(5) Set an Intention for Sacred Family or Friend Time
"Hygge is a value. It is valuing drama free time together with your family as sacred. It is creating a psychological safe space. It is valuing connecting in the moment without having to put your guard up. It’s about agreeing that for a limited period of time that everyone will leave their past issues, work stresses, complaining, gossip and negativity at the door. It is turning your phones off and helping out so not one person gets stuck doing all the work. It is working as a team in every sense." ~ The Danish Way
Wishing you a warm hygge gathering with your family and friends this Thanksgiving!
P.S. A Word about Winter Blues...
If fall & winter are difficult for you because of winter blues or seasonal affective disorder, them please take care of yourself as you prepare. Get help with each step of the process if you need it.
For fellow introverts, I advise creating quiet, hygge days both before & after the gathering that are designed for enjoying your own company, for replenishing your energy & your spirits.
I used to add at least one day before a holiday and one or two afterward before going back to work and that always helped a great deal. Is that something you could do this season?
And before the big day, follow the plan you've created for yourself this winter. You may find it much easier to enjoy the day than you have before. If you don't yet have a winter happiness plan, refresh this page and sign up when the pop-up invite appears.
Love to you!
Don't Forget Dessert!
"The shorter days and colder weather of winter can make anyone feel down, especially if you live a long way from the equator. The reduced light, warmth, and color of winter can leave you feeling melancholy, irritable, or tired. But if these feelings recur each year, make it tough to function during the winter months, and then subside in spring or early summer, you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Seasonal depression can affect your health, your relationships, and your everyday activities. But no matter how hopeless you feel, there are things you can do to keep your mood and life stable throughout the year. " ~HelpGuide.com
Take Vitamin D3
If you are African-American like me, or another woman of color, you are likely to have difficulty getting enough vitamin D. But that does not mean you should just take a ton of it. I had my levels tested once and had a higher number than was recommended.
So I really want to tell anyone reading to check with a healthcare person you trust if you decide to try taking vitamin D3.
But the right amount *can* help if you are suffering as a result of not getting enough sunlight. And the shorter days and less sunshine available are likely to be the biggest causes of seasonal affective disorder or winter blues, so getting as much sun, being outdoors every day when possible, and/or supplementing with vitamin D3 can be powerful tools in ameliorating the symptoms.
Exercise 3 or More Times a Week
What's recommended is exercising several times a week for 30-60 minutes at a time. But do what you can. Even 15 minutes is better than none.
Morning Light: Dawn Simulators
A dawn simulator creates dawn by gradually brightening a light bulb until it is at complete full spectrum brightness. This can be used as a silent alarm because it helps to "wake people up with the sun."
I used one myself many years ago when I worked as a substance abuse therapist and had to get up early each morning. It worked so well!!
Not only did I wake up easily, but I felt energetic enough to get ready quickly and easily when usually every task seemed to take forever. I was usually sluggish & lethargic, but using the dawn simulator got rid of that for me.
And it never mattered what time I got up, because often, the sun itself was up already. But I did use a floor lamp right next to where my head was, so that may have helped.
Using a Light Box
But I think that might mean I needed more time. These days, I've read, people may sit with the light box for an hour at a time, and sometimes more than once a day.
I can imagine that that much more time with the light would make a big difference!
I remember going on a trip to San Diego one February and on the last day I was there, I sat on the beach, on a very big rock, soaking up the sun for 3 hours. At the end of that time, I felt like it was summer.
If I could do that every day, I doubt I'd experience winter the way I do now, the way so many of us do. Light boxes seem like a good substitute for hours in the sun.
Get Serotonin from Carbohydrates
"An excess of anything, even water, is bad. Fortunately, research has also found that only small amounts of carbohydrate have to be eaten to make serotonin. Twenty-five to 30 grams of carbohydrate—the amount in one cup of Cheerios--is sufficient. And if the carbohydrate is a starchy and very low-fat like breakfast cereal, or popcorn, pretzels or rice crackers, natural tranquility comes at a price no one should resist." ~ Judith J. Wurtman, PhD
So carbohydrates will help give back some (hopefully, more than some) of the serotonin SAD sufferers lose in the winter. One of the symptoms is craving carbs.
But rather than adding sweet treats and yummy carbs to what you're already eating, I recommend making a shift in what you're eating to make room for them, swapping out whatever is not likely to help you.
I don't mean pancakes, cake and cookies all day, all the time. I mean oatmeal, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, and other whole grains.
I think that might be the trick, so that adding carbs doesn't lead to weight gain. Plus the exercise.
Which of the Strategies Will You Try?
(Me: All of Them!)
So what do you think?
Would any of these strategies work for you this winter, to prevent or lessen your winter blues symptoms? I have tried them all and found them all to work to some degree.
But every mind, body, spirit, soul is different so it's always a good idea to connect with your healthcare provider before making any big changes. He or she may be able to help you create a personalized plan or may have suggestions not mentioned here.
(If so, please come back and tell us here in a comment. :))
I'm thinking good thoughts for you (and me) this winter.
See you in a couple of days to throw some hygge into the mix!
"Open up your blinds Sunday morning and welcome the brighter rays of light. The end of Daylight Saving Time pushes sunrise back an hour as winter’s morning light will reach you sooner now. The sun is nature’s regulator and keeps our internal circadian rhythms on track. Besides working as our natural timekeeper, the sun is also a good pick-me-up as the days shorten. One study found morning light exposure to be the most effective treatment for cheering us up in the face of winter blues and seasonal affective disorder." ~ Ladders
Soak Up As Much Sunshine As You Can
I'm a night owl, so if I sleep the way I might be inclined to, as fall becomes winter, I'd get up later and later and go to sleep later & later. Which could mean, with the time change, that I'd feel like I missed most of the day.
And for winter blues sufferers, research suggests that the best light is morning light. So the best way to handle the shorter days, starting with Sunday's brand new one, is to expose yourself to as much sunshine and morning light, in general, every day that you can.
One article I read suggested going against the grain and getting up quite a bit earlier than you need to, so you have plenty of time to wake up and bathe in light as you do.
Grab a cup of tea and a book and plant yourself outside in sunlight or inside next to a big window in a well-lit room. Cozy it up & turn it into a hygge moment.
If you can add a 15-20 minute walk while it's still sunny, even better.
Gonna need a little extra help? Me, too! Try a dawn simulator. It could make getting up a lot easier and help to straighten out your circadian rhythm.
If falling back has never been your favorite day, I'm with you. But hopefully, by following the sun, we can make the best of it in a way that actually feels good. Eventually.
Have a great weekend!
I think it was one of my roommates who told me about seasonal affective disorder. She'd read an article describing it and thought it might be the reason I was depressed. I was in my 20s at the time, and had never heard of it. By the time I finished reading the article, I knew that was exactly what was wrong, and was so relieved to have an explanation. In the many years that followed, I tried a lot of things that didn't help. With Hygge, I have been reminded of a few things that did and found others that I hadn't heard or thought of before. Do you have winter blues, too? If you're not sure, this article will help you decide.
"Life naturally slows down in winter. The days grow shorter, light becomes scarce, and we respond by planting ourselves in front of the television or hiding under the covers to stay warm. But how do you know when a seasonal slump is a more serious problem?" ~Psycom.net
"The reduction in sunlight in winter can throw your biological clock out of whack and reduce levels of serotonin (a brain chemical that regulates your mood) and melatonin (a chemical which regulates sleep and mood)." ~Psycom.net
Defining Winter Blues
People often use the terms "winter blues" and "seasonal affective disorder" interchangeably, because both occur as a result of the lessening sunlight available that occurs as fall becomes winter and both make winter difficult for a lot of people who don't live near the equator or in places where the seasons don't change at all.
But the latter is an official diagnostic term for people who have symptoms of Major Depression during the winter. The former can include a few of the symptoms, some of them, most or all, but they haven't been diagnosed.
Many people experience the symptoms without being diagnosed and may go through several difficult winters before getting an official diagnosis.
“With SAD, one theory is that light entering the eye causes changes in hormone levels in the body. In our bodies, light functions to stop the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, making us wake up. It’s thought that SAD sufferers are affected by shorter daylight hours in the winter. They produce higher melatonin, causing lethargy and symptoms of depression.
If you’re going through a bout of winter blues, lack of daylight is probably playing a part."
~ Alison Kerry, from MIND
"When light hits the retina at the back of the eye, messages are sent to the hypothalamus - the part of the brain responsible for sleep, appetite, sex drive, temperature, mood and activity."If there's not enough light, these functions are likely to slow down and gradually stop," says Murphy, adding: Some people seem to need a lot more light than others for their body to function normally, and are therefore more likely to develop SAD symptoms when there are low levels of light."
~Beth Murphy, also from MIND
What are the Symptoms of Winter Blues
or Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Many people who experience winter blues, or seasonal affective disorder, experience one or more of the following...
(1) Having less energy or motivation for the normal things you do every day
(2) Craving carbohydrates and sweets & overeating so that weight gain is possible
(3) Wanting to sleep more or having difficulty getting up in the mornings or insomnia (or both)
(4) Feelings of irritability
(5) Feelings of depression or sadness, not enjoying the things you normally like to do
(6) Finding it difficult to concentrate on things, brain fog or foggy thinking
In the next post, we'll talk about recommendations for defeating winter blues (though nothing takes the place of consultation with or treatment by your health care provider) and in future posts, I'll share what Hygge is all about & how it can help you lessen or get rid of winter blues symptoms.
See you next time!
Thanks for dropping by. Hope you'll put your feet up, have a cup of tea & stay for a while.
This blog is dedicated to helping women hygge winter to avoid or lessen the experience with winter blues.
Other Hygge Blogs
Happy Winter Kit
Hygge For Winter Blues
Hygge Weight Loss
Light Therapy For Winter Blues
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Serotonin & Food
Ultimate Blog Challenge
Winter Weight Gain