Danish ‘hygge’ may help students beat winter drag

Jacob Pitts
Staff Writer


Dreary weather, ever increasing homework, and plain old boredom can make the winter months hard for students to endure, but unexpected wellness techniques to seasonal hobbies could help this winter glide gracefully into spring.

January and onwards are often viewed as a season of darkness and depression. The days are shorter, there’s no foliage in sight, it often feels too cold to do anything fun, and the novelty of snow wears off rapidly after the holidays. We are often stuck inside, but rather than succumbing to cabin fever, we can learn something from the Danish.

Denmark is commonly known as one of the happiest countries, even though they have a longer winter than most other nations. This can partially be attributed to a custom called hygge (pronounced HOO-gah or HYOO-gah), which is essentially the practice of coziness.

Hygge isn’t just about crafting a physical feeling, but a state of mind too. Similar in a way to feng shui, which seeks to rearrange rooms so people can live in harmony with their environment, the goal is for spaces to exude warmth and comfort, which in turn can influence mental and emotional states for the better.

New adopters of hygge should try to use light sources such as candles and lamps liberally, put vivid and vibrant colors on display to combat the drab winter landscape.

Keeping an abundance of pillows and blankets around a living space, playing relaxing music, and indulging in comfort foods, can help improve a winter mood as well.

Hygge also places a heavy emphasis on social gatherings, whether it’s a potluck, game night, or movie marathon. Being surrounded by close friends and family in a comfortable space is a great remedy for the stress and loneliness of winter.

Most can agree that no winter gathering is complete without hot beverages, and some even offer health benefits that can contribute to achieving hygge. There are the traditional cold weather drinks like coffee, hot cocoa, and cider, but depending on the variety, herbal teas are exactly what we need to either relax or refresh ourselves.

Store-bought teas like Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer and Yogi Honey Lavender Stress Relief are perfect for calming nerves, and the cool, invigorating breeze of peppermint provides a quick pick-me-up for when winter leads to lethargy.

While building a serene atmosphere in our homes is certainly beneficial during the winter months, it also helps to keep going outside despite the gloomy weather. When it comes to helping our skin produce vitamin D, tea lights and lamps don’t hold a candle to the real thing. In the fleeting hours of sunlight that winter allows, why not take a walk?

“Along with reading, daily walks with my dog help me de-stress at the end of the day and prevent me from being cooped up inside all the time, especially in winter,” said student Aubrey Brimmer.

Plenty of people turn to their pets to get through the difficult season. Even if students don’t have pets of their own, they can always volunteer. The Mohawk-Hudson Humane Society in Menands regularly offers orientation for new dog and cat care volunteers, and also allows volunteers to foster kittens at home.

Late winter and early spring marks the beginning of kitten season, when animal shelters receive far beyond the usual number of new kittens daily. With not enough space for the shelter to accommodate them all, volunteers can care for some at home until adoption occurs or space clears up.

Volunteering at or through shelters is an excellent opportunity for students to engage in their community, get service hours for scholarships, bond with a furry friend, and alleviate the boredom and emptiness that comes with winter.

All of these factors together can drown out the tedious, dull harshness of winter we dread every year, and instead replace it with a lifestyle that embraces tranquility, fellowship, and the little moments that make life good.


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