“It is good to love many things, for therein lies true strength…” Van Gogh
Do you sweat both the small stuff and the big stuff? Is that you who gets up for Hot Yoga on the coldest winter morning –when you’d rather stay in bed? Or who suffers silently with a toothache or works late because, well, you are a “warrior”? We see your inner Navy Seal, but what about your softer side? Perhaps some of your true strength lies there.
Do you ever give yourself a life-sized hug? Do you stop to enjoy the little stuff that feels great even though you think it might be judged a waste of time? Where do those figure on your radar?
For some, they figure pretty high. According to the Happiness Research Institute, Danes are among the happiest people in the world. Why? They practice “Hygge” (pronounced “hoo-gah”) which is an approach to inner and outer life that values comfort, contentment, and ease.
It pays dividends. Dr. Kristin Neff, associate professor of Human Development and Culture at the University of Texas, found that people who pamper themselves have a better response to stress, less body-wide inflammation, better immunity, and are healthier. They suffer fewer colds and headaches than folks who don’t give a fig for foot rubs or scented candles. In a word, they value “cozy”.
When is the last time you put your feet up and were comfortably idle? It’s more than good for you. According to the journal CONSCIOUSNESS AND COGNITION, being unfocused actually makes you more creative. And there’s no better time than winter. Winter was custom-made for “cozy.”
Think of introducing cozy into these four quadrants of your everyday life
In The Home: How about a lazy morning spent in bed under your weighted blanket with no “to-do” list, no phone, just that good book you’ve been meaning to read for months. Or a lazy afternoon with a pot of hot chocolate and a cat (or dog) in your lap. How about turning off the phone and having an early-to-bed Saturday night wrapped in a blanket listening to waterfall sounds on your meditation app?
For bedtime or naptime, plug in that aromatherapy diffuser. Try lavender, peppermint, or citrus scents — whatever transports or settles you.
And how long has it been since you took a bubble bath or aromatherapy soak? Turn on some Mozart or Vivaldi to amp up the calming, self-care vibe. And everyone needs a pair of big cushy slippers or a pair of thick wool socks to give your feet a bear hug on a chilly day.
One of the easiest ways to add cozy to your home? Candles. The warm light of a candle quiets the mind and relaxes the whole body. Try mixing and matching a few different ones, arranging them in unexpected places in your living space, including. your bedroom or kitchen. Be sure to opt for safe earth-friendly materials and ALWAYS be watchful (as in extinguishing them when you leave a room or before you fall asleep).
Out of the Home: Practicing “cozy” is permission to have a hot stones pedicure at the local spa. It could be an afternoon in the library reading. Leave your phone in the car. Take off your watch.
How about a stroll through the historic gardens or landmarks in your town that you’ve always been meaning to visit? Or an hour cuddling the puppies, kittens or rabbits at the local animal shelter.
At Work: If you have a home office or work remotely, create a little getaway in your house (window-side if possible to catch the light). This is where you take those work breaks. Add a comfortable chair or lots of pillows, fur throws, and soft blankets. Maybe slip on the fuzzy slippers for a bit; it can seriously lower your stress level.
If you’re back to the office, try wearing some cozy fleece-lined socks to add a touch of the sensual to your “serious” business day. Keep an essential oil-scented eye bag in your drawer for a quick break between emails. Or keep a bottle of heavenly-smelling hand lotion at the ready for a sweet-smelling break.
Add some whimsy to your desk with a silly bobblehead, a tiny teddy bear, a snow globe paperweight– anything that can bring back fun childhood memories.
Forget the warm weather book group; join a knitting/crochet/embroidery group. Nothing says “cozy” like a knitting circle. Knitting (and other handcrafts) are meditative, soothing for your brain, fun for your fingers — and at the end, you wind up with a scarf, sweater, or socks.
Make a warming gift box for a loved one or close friend. Add a scented room spray, a pair of aloe-infused socks, some herbal tea packets, a real linen handkerchief. Bet you’ll think of other personalized add-ons!
And finally, how about a little homemade potpourri to warm up your space?
HOMEMADE STOVETOP POTPOURRI
1 whole orange or orange peel or other citrus peel
½ cup cranberries (can be frozen)
1 T whole cloves or allspice
3 sticks of cinnamon
Quarter the fruit (or use peel) and place in a heavy-bottomed small saucepan
Add cranberries, cloves, or allspice and cinnamon sticks
Fill the pan with water and set on lowest burner setting.
Keep an eye on the pot as the potpourri simmers. Add water as needed.
Optional: Add a sprig of rosemary with the other ingredients or a few drops of your favorite essential oil just before turning off.
Remove from heat and transfer to a nice container like a punch bowl. Or, just leave it on the stovetop sending its homey fragrance throughout your cozy living space.