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Hygge Winter: Living With The Seasons

By: Camryn Murray, Winthrop University Nutrition Student


As the weather slowly becomes colder and our nationwide switch to standard time on November 2nd approaches, many of us are dreading the upcoming darkness and cold temperatures that accompany the winter months. One way to endure and even enjoy the wintertime is to practice a Danish perspective of winter, known as “hygge winter.” Denmark is consistently ranked as one of the happiest countries, despite their long, frigid winters, so perhaps we as Americans can learn a lot from their culture surrounding the frosty weather!


What is hygge winter?

Whether we openly embrace it or not, our human existence is very closely linked with nature and always has been. Instead of viewing winter as a chilly and depressing isolation period, some

European countries, like Denmark, prefer to view it as a cozy, relaxing time to reflect on the year and enjoy our closest relationships. Embracing the seasons can positively impact our health in almost every aspect and it may surprise you how honoring different lifestyles can change how you feel during the natural cycles of nature.


How does winter affect how you live?

  • Nutrition: in the winter, you should focus on drinking enough fluids and getting your fill of seasonal fruits and root vegetables, which is often done in the form of soups and casseroles

  • Vitamin D: with shorter daylight, you can focus on getting enough of your “sunshine vitamin,” by spending a few extra minutes outdoors, buying a UVB lamp, taking a vitamin D supplement, or eating more foods that are high in vitamin D, like fortified dairy products and juice, fatty fish, and eggs

  • Sleep: with less sunlight comes more melatonin production, also called the “sleep hormone,” so it is important that we take the time to rest and honor our circadian rhythms

  • Exercise: you can shift your workout routines from the excitable, outdoor cardio that often accompanies summer months to restorative or strength-focused exercises in the winter, like yin yoga or weightlifting

  • Activity: in your free time, take time to really relax and get cozy; grab your softest blanket, light a fire in the fireplace, and read a really great book or write about your day in a journal

  • Social: warmer months are often used to host events, create new relationships, and meet people, but the colder months can be used to cultivate those intimate connections and bond with the people you love most over movie nights, dinners, and more

  • Self Care: make sure to take care of your skin to avoid letting it get too dry, monitor your health since some medical conditions like asthma can be exacerbated during the colder months, and monitor your mental health or reach out to someone to help you cope with things like seasonal affective disorder and depression


Make winter special:

Try to embrace the cold weather by creating new traditions, whether that be holiday traditions or daily traditions, like taking a hot bath or baking goods for a friend. The holidays can be hard for

those who have lost someone they love or those who do not have many close relationships to celebrate, so it is especially important to adapt your mindset during this time and focus on taking care of yourself. My family lost our father to cancer earlier this year, so we are doing a total remodel of our old traditions and creating new ones to try and offset the amplified grief that accompanies the holidays. For example, on Christmas we are going to have breakfast with our neighborhood friends and pack an Operation Christmas Child box in my dad’s honor. Perhaps, if you are spending a holiday alone, you could find a similar way to give your time to people who would love your attention and compassion, like nursing home residents or hungry families in your community. So much of our winter experience surrounds our thoughts and perspective of the season, so try your best to make the most out of the upcoming chilly months like the Danish do!




References

  1. Winter nutrition. NZ Nutrition Foundation. https://nutritionfoundation.org.nz/winter-nutrition/. Published January 26, 2022. Accessed October 28, 2022.

  2. Buettner K. Hygge: How to cozy up to Winter. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-hygge#How-to-hygge:-The-ultimate-guide-. Published July 3, 2019. Accessed October 28, 2022.

  3. Kathryn. How to live in tune with the seasons. Farming My Backyard. https://farmingmybackyard.com/live-in-tune-with-seasons/. Published October 25, 2022. Accessed October 28, 2022.

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