Bringing back hygge: How seniors can embrace the darker months
The days are getting shorter and the rain has already gone into full swing.
Most of us have already started hibernating with the onset of fall. Maybe you’re excited for the more introverted seasons, where you can hide inside your homes and snuggle up in front of the TV. Others might dread the darkness and soggy days.
Wherever you fall, there’s a way to embrace these seasons with a philosophy that the Danish live by called hygge.
In case you missed the hygge craze of 2017 or need a refresh, read on to find out how seniors can bring hygge back into their lives.
What is hygge and how can seniors bring it into their life?
Hygge is a philosophy and a way of life for the Danes.
It’s a system of values and a feeling.
There’s a lot to learn about hygge!
Hygge experts, like Meik Wiking from the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, describe hygge as that feeling of being sheltered from the outside world.
This could mean coming back to a warm cabin after a snowy hike or ski, or lighting some candles before dinner while the rain patters on your windows.
It’s drinking tea by the fire, and being grateful for the simple things in life, like family, a warm meal and good books.
You don’t need a lot of money or more things to experience hygge. You just need the right attitude about your surroundings.
What hygge is not
Hygge is not about buying Danish furniture or about locking yourself inside your apartment for the winter.
It’s not staring at your phone all day alone, or denying yourself dessert when you really want a big slice of cake.
I think of it as the opposite of consumerism and the American culture of always wanting more than you already have.
It’s realizing all the coziness that surrounds us- candles, a blanket, good friends, and reveling in that.
You learn to appreciate the little moments that warm your heart and give you a feeling of contentment.
If you’re Danish, it’s already built into your culture.
How hygge can help seniors feel less lonely
I know that when I’m feeling lonely, cuddling with my dog and wrapping myself in blankets helps me feel more secure and content. It’s okay that it’s pouring rain outside, and I actually kind of enjoy it.
Why? Because I know I’m safe and secure. I think of all the people in the world that don’t have this basic need of a home or safety.
Some of the benefits of creating a cozy atmosphere and the feelings of comfort and safety in your home include:
- Less depression and anxiety
- Lowered stress
- More mindfulness
According to Very Well Mind, “When we feel comfortable and emotionally safe, we are more likely to reach out to build and nurture connections with others.”
Incorporating hygge into your life means encouraging those important relationships and therefore feeling a sense of belonging and connection to our community.
And that result alone is so important.
If you’re a caregiver, bringing hygge into the home may help your loved one feel more at peace and happy in their environment.
And loneliness itself can pose a number of risks for seniors, so it’s important to keep an eye on how you or your loved one feels on a daily basis. You can read about these health risks and how to ward off loneliness in a recent blog post of ours.
If you’re struggling with some of your relationships (like we all do at certain stages in life), ask yourself if it really matters. In another recent blog, we covered why caregiver and seniors relationships are so important, and how to evaluate any contention you’re having within those relationships.
Homecare and hygge: It benefits everyone
If you’re a family caregiver, bringing some hygge into the home can help your senior feel those cozy feelings that contribute to happiness.
It can also help you both feel calmer and more at ease, which are feelings difficult to come by when you’re a caregiver. There are simple ways of doing this with decor alone.
Here are a few ideas:
- Change up your lighting- If you notice any harsh lighting in your home, can you swap it out for a dimmer setting or a floor lamp instead? You probably don’t need all the lights on early in the morning or later in the evening, which can be prime times for hygge.
- Organize a game night or a candlelit dinner- As we covered, hygge is about spending time with the important people in your life, so set aside some time to make this happen.
- Promote a feeling of warmth in the home- Maybe you’ve been running around doing errands all day. Can you take a walk when you get home, and leave that nervous energy outside? If we treat home like a sanctuary, then it’s easier to separate work and the stress of the outside world.
Looking to find hygge elsewhere, say in the capital of hygge? SeaCare offers respite care for family caregivers. Give us a call and see how we can help.
Megan Marolf writes about senior topics and outdoor recreation from her home base in Seattle. You can read more about her here.
If you or a loved one you know are looking for additional support during this time and are interested in scheduling a free in-home assessment, please contact SeaCare In-Home Care Services today! A SeaCare family member is standing by. 425-559-4339.