I’LL BE SURVIVING LOCKDOWN#2 – THE SCANDI WAY!
“Well, at least the sun is shining, imagine lockdown in the winter, that really would be shit!” Said me, to anyone that would listen, in Lockdown#1.
Well, Holy shitballs! Here we are! Lockdown#2 has kicked off and in true Mancunian form, it’s cold, dull and pretty miserable out there!
So, I’m leaning to the Danes for inspiration, as I so often do. Over there it’s super dark or dusk for most of the day, it’s fecking cold…yet, year after year Scandinavian countries come out top in the Happiest Places to Live in the World. Why?
They lean into winter, seeing the joy in it, rather than a period of endurance until the warmer months return. They have a word for it, HYGGE – their Scandi mates have their own versions with the Swedes referring to MYSIG, the Norwegians, KOSILIG and the Dutch, GEZENLLIGHEID!
My Manc version; GET YOUR COSY ON!!
So, what is Hygge; how can we learn from it and how will it help us get through this period of lockdown.
It’s more than just getting cosy, it’s all about intentional intimacy; creating safe, balanced and harmonious spaces and times with those you love.
Alright, we are a bit limited in that we have to live with those we love to get truly close at the moment and I am pretty sure the global pandemic is challenging even the most Hygge’d up Scandi’s too right now. But could this cultural concept help us through this winter lockdown? I think so, and here’s why.
Our brains are all too happy to take us to places of panic, worry, sadness, anger, frustration and general “what if” Armageddon style downward spiralling. Let’s face it, right now there is a lot for our brains to go wild with. I truly believe, for our overall well-being, we all need to get ok with that. You will feel shit at times and that’s ok. Research shows that the first step to being resilient to tough times is to accept shit happens. (ok, the research boffins didn’t put it quite like that but stay with me here!). Research also show that our darker thoughts and emotions actually pass by quicker if we accept them, sit with them for a bit and let them pass, which they will.
If you are human and have a brain, you have a natural negative thinking bias. It’s our brain’s way of keeping us safe and mitigating danger. The downside of this super sensitive risk scanner, is that it can lead easily to what I call catastrophising. Worst case thinking.
We are social animals and in times of crisis, our natural behaviour is to seek solace with our “tribe”, solve the issue together. But right now, we can’t solve the issue (unless you one of the superheroes supporting our nation’s health or a clever scientist beavering away to find a vaccine – if you are, man I salute you!!). We need to find social connection where we can – even if that means yet another bloody Zoom call.
So, my top tips to taking a HYGGE approach to this winter lockdown:
Connection is so critical to our well-being, it is fundamentally wired into our being, so share a take-out coffee from a favourite independent coffee shop and go walk with a friend. Snuggle up with your kids for a cuddle. Zoom your smug Uncle (see below). Call your bestie and reminisce on happy times. Send colleagues funny memes. Wave at your neighbour across the road. We are all in this together.
Embrace the outdoors!
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes” my Uncle smugly reminded me as he welcomed me and my little gang in, drenched and cold from a summer camping trip! I have taken this philosophy and gone wild with it, buying what can only be described as a sleeping bag coat! Every day, rain or shine, whether reluctant Mojo the dog likes it or not, we walk!
Create cosy, twinkly spaces to work and relax in. Sod it, get the Xmas lights out of the attic early and make your home a cosy happy grotto of warmth. Light those tealights you always buy when you go to IKEA, fire up the Jo Malone candle you were “keeping for best”. Light the fire, chuck blankets around to be snuggled into whenever the fancy arises! Make home somewhere warm, twinkly and cosy – somewhere you WANT to be!
Be happy, be sad, be angry, be grateful, just BE! Give yourself permission to just be whatever today’s version of you needs to be. Turn off the notifications screaming for your immediate attention. Press pause on the scrolling and give your risk scanning brain a break from thinking that everyone else is doing so much better. Unplug. Breathe. Do more of what makes YOU happy. It’s not self-indulgent. It’s essential. Just BE!