It’s swiftly heading towards “that time of year” again… I must admit that despite my ability to spring up and at em in the morning for the majority of the year, I find Winter Mornings more testing and there could be good reason for that!
I don’t think I exaggerate when I say that most of us (to some degree at least) suffer with typical Winter Depressive symptoms of fatigue, hypersomnia, lowered levels of motivation and sociability, and an increase in irritability (Winter= “I am not a morning person!”) and eating for a small army! I readily accept some causal link between my declining mood and the change in season. I am forever saying things like “The weather/cold is really affecting me!” or “I am struggling to do anything because of the Winter Days”.
Obviously, as with most syndromes or “illnesses” there is a continuum of severity which can range from a little lethargy (the most common side effect of SAD) to functional disability. Luckily if you are on the lesser end of the spectrum a few well placed Self Help Books may be all you need to negotiate the Winter Months more cheerfully and energetically!
I recently started reading around the premise of HYGGE (there must be a reason our Scandi European cousins consistently stand out in studies as an overall happier nation!) The Danish people spend a lot of time in the Winter Season so really embrace an active solution to their potential Winter “blues” by fully embracing this ethos (which is not directly translatable into an English word but is more about capturing a feeling of ‘cosiness’ and embracing the colder months!) Just type Hygge into Pinterest and you will be bombarded with boards of glorious roaring fires, cosy toes in thick knitted socks, huge drinking receptacles filled with warming goodness from tea, to hot chocolate to a cheeky tipple and living rooms lit with candles! This is the most basic level and in my opinion a very inviting premise to explore further.
Really it’s great success comes in the positive mindset to find that warmth and intimacy in every day life when it becomes more difficult to remember in the Winter months. Worldwide there is clearly a need to embrace this pro activity towards finding a passion for all things Winter because 4-6% of people experience clinical depression related to Winter and a further 10-20% may additionally experience mild symptoms of SAD over the Winter Months. So this is a very real problem.
In this post I have included a few ideas on how best to manage your potential symptoms of SAD from easy home hygge to the introduction of Light Therapy in the form of the Lumie Zest that I have been testing out over the last few weeks. As always the opinions in the review section are my own and I have not been compensated by Lumie.
(This post is not officially sponsored by Lumie but I will be including affiliate links whereby I will gain commission on any purchases made from my links on this post.
This post also includes a Giveaway hosted by Bea and Me [see full terms and conditions at end of post.] )
The charming thing is that Hygge can take any form and there is no set template so it is really about opening yourself up to an inner creative process. So launch yourself into a new way of being which will not only see you through the Winter Months but also benefit further aspects of your life. I took the following lessons from “The Little Book of Hygge” that one of my lovely Mummy friends passed on to me last year when my work had started getting me down in the dumps!
I have distilled my own version of Hygge into the below points but by no means is this an exhaustive list. There are so many options to Live Hygge so start living your best life.
1) Get Mindful!
A great starting point is to be in the present and put a little distance between yourself and the world of social media. Hygge doesn’t ban electronic devices but it certainly shows that it is worth putting your phone down to foster genuine connections with people and your true self again.
The calm acceptance of your own thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations moment by moment is a way to improve your overall mental wellbeing & this can certainly be applied to Winter. We can accept that Winter has arrived and look at ways to enjoy it, rather than count down to Spring!
2) Get Soft!
Who isn’t partial to a good snuggle?! Personally I am a very tactile person and Hygge is very much not just about an aesthetic but how things FEEL. So in my home I have selected fabrics and interior furnishings that are cosy, homely and soft to the touch. It has been about almost creating a womb-like experience of warmth and comfort, so throws, blankets & rugs are a must. I guess it is about transforming your space into your own little nook of goodness!
3) Slow Down!
Alongside the mindfulness component a big part of Hygge is to eat cosy! Love your kitchen and find the joy in waiting for your food. The longer something takes to cook the more Hygge it is but it’s also about simplicity so no need to worry about julienating veggies & complex glazes… it could be as simple as a nice, warming soup. Slowing down to eat and drink and perform processes such as searing foods allows you to appreciate food not just because it sustains your energy, but because it makes you feel whole.
4) Do Good!
There is undoubtedly a link between your levels of happiness and helping others. It’s worth getting out there and spending time on social initiatives that increase the feeling of “togetherness”. An isolationist mindset that Winter can bring is damaging to our mental health. So try to increase your human interaction (no matter how difficult it starts to get!) What better way to remember the true goodness of humanity than being part of groups of people that have a passion for people and changing someone’s day for the better?!
5) Put the Kettle On!
We Brit’s are no strangers to a good cup of tea solving (most of) life’s problems! 85% of Danes equate Hygge to enjoying a hot drink of some description (Meik Wiking found this is his research for his book “The Little Book of Hygge”.) It is such a simple way to evoke a happy and cosy feeling. I love adding seasonal flavours to my drinks as I associate certain flavours with winter.
6) Light Up The Room!
I am personally obsessed with Yankee Candles and love nothing more than treating myself to a new scent each season. I particularly love the winter varieties. Currently we are burning a rather delicious limited addition candle called “Frosty Gingerbread” and it fills up the room with such a beautiful aroma like Christmas baking!!
The Danes purchase more candles collectively than any other European Country and are a key component in any Hygge Nook! What’s great about Hygge is that the expensive scented varieties are not essential as all flames are equal! “Hygge is about enjoying the simple pleasures in life and can be achieved on a shoestring budget.” So buy bulk of cheap little tealights because a little candlelight enhances any space!
7) Get Outside!
Its difficult to pry yourself out of your sofa fort in the winter, I get it! There is certainly an Amber Shaped crevice in my sofa around this time of year and it makes me feel bad because I know I am missing out on this he majesty of nature. It is rude not to get out and about living in stunning Devon as we are sandwiched between moorland & coast so opportunities aplenty to explore incredible scenery.
Even mustering one purposeful walk a day means you can practice your mindfulness daily so grab some comfy boots and go experience the outside world. You can really live the value of moment-by-moment then afterwards treat yourself to a fat, warming hot chocolate & slice of cake because, Dear Reader… What’s more Hygge than that?!
Happiness is about simplicity and in a world that is always on the go, with consumerism, technology, capitalism and the next fad we are often exhausting ourselves trying to keep up and live a life that is not our own; often just a set of tick boxes. Our achievements and dreams are not our own. We are told what to strive for… no wonder we are often miserable. We are moving too fast, not cocooning ourselves both physically and metaphorically in enough softness and barely giving ourselves enough time to connect to the world on a truly meaningful level!
I wanted to Think Myself Happy this Winter. I have found that it certainly helps being on maternity leave. I returned to work just last week to complete a Kit Day (Keeping In Touch) and I completed my decreased hours that I agreed before Maternity Leave and it left me frazzled. I tried to maintain my breathing techniques that I have implemented since being at home, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was drowning in other peoples problems… yes I guess that is what you should expect from working in customer care, but all I could think about was being with my Little Bea; crunching through leaves, getting read noses and then having big cuddles under our fluffy blanket!
I think getting up for work would have been EVEN harder had I not started training myself into a morning wake up routine with my Lumie Zest for the week before heading back to the grind.
Science has proven that just 30 minutes a day exposed to natural light (with at least 2000 lux – a measure of it’s brightness) can be enough to stimulate feel good hormone and keep your body cycle in check!
The Lumie Zest is a dedicated “SAD Lamp” and is a certified medical device. Lumie have been pioneers in the light therapy arena and it’s not hard to see why as the Zest practically punches you in the face with light in the morning. Other reviews had warned of this so I was ready to face the glow… by having the Zest positioned on my bedroom floor rather than on my bedside table! Even from below; the 2000 Lux of light is a very effective wake up call (most other SAD lights output is only between 100 & 300 Lux) so the Zest truly is the Don of lamps! It pushes out 10 times as much light as most other SAD Lamps on the market so I found that I was feeling refreshed as I woke up to the lamp each morning!
I was skeptical before I set the Zest up to sort out my rather broken body clock. The Zest is simple to set up and it doesn’t have some of the features other lamps now have such as radio or nature sounds, but as a purist that really doesn’t matter to me. I like simple designs with proven results so the Zest perfectly complimented my lifestyle and personality.
So what’s the scientific bit?
The Lumie Zest can be utilised as a 2-in-1 device: SAD Lamp & Waking Up Lamp.
The brightening light brings you more gently out of sleep, prompting your body to reduce the production of sleep hormones such as melatonin, while increasing the levels of hormones like cortisol that help you get up and go.
This provides a fantastic start to the day for sufferers of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and the winter blues, and helps anyone who is not naturally a morning person to feel brighter and more energetic first thing.
It’s not just a nicer way to wake up. Waking to natural light every day resets your sleep/wake cycle and has been shown to boost your mood, productivity and energy levels throughout the day. Our physiological body clocks are aligned by sunrise and sunset.
As most of us experience a mix of early starts, late nights, weekend lie-ins and sometimes travel disruption, our internal sleep rhythms are thrown into disarray. We feel tired and stressed trying to wake up for work, school or sports training.
A dawn simulator device re-sets your body clock to run in time with your day, helping you feel more awake during the day and more ready for sleep at night.
Source: Lumie Website.
Would I recommend the Zest?
Compact, easy to use, no fuss and fast results. I found by Day 4 my body was back into a useful rhythm and my sleep was better. I did accompany the use of the Zest with other techniques that promote better sleep such as unplugging from the digital world an hour before my bedtime and I used Feather & Down Pillow Spray. Clearly the combination worked for me as I was consistently getting 7/8 hours of sleep (only being woken by Bea) but my mornings did in fact feel a lot easier to combat and my feelings of dread were noticeably low level (I wouldn’t say that the morning struggle has fully been rectified) but exposing myself to more light has had noticeable benefits. No SAD symptoms currently so I will continue using the Zest for a brighter future (literally!)
Due to the obvious positive changes to my sleeping/waking/wellness experience I have also purchased a Lumie Bug for Bea for when she makes it into her own room in the next few weeks. I can only assume that as she still shares the room with us she has also benefited from the use of my Zest as she has been sleeping better through the night again! I will be reviewing the rather adorable bug when Bea is in her nursery. (Wish us luck for that change!!!)
Now having experienced happier mornings I would love to spread love and light by running a competition to win a Lumie Vitamin L light (worth £90) It is slim & about the size of a tablet so it is easy to transport from room to room or between home and the office. It can be positioned both landscape or portrait. It is proven to treat symptoms of SAD.
Enter below to win (competition running until 20th November & winner will be contacted within 48 hours directly and posted on site thereafter.) Here are the full terms and conditions.
CLICK HERE TO HEAD TO MY RAFFLECOPTER COMP PAGE!
How will you be fighting symptoms of SAD this winter? What’s your favourite Hygge tip?
– Bea’s Mummy x
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