Ways to find joy and comfort this winter
Many of us approach the long dark of winter with a sense of deep dismay. After the frantic activity of the holidays, it is hard to look at the next few months with joy or anticipation. The days are short, and the weather is often dreary. Add the stress factors of the pandemic on top of the challenges of working in the legal profession and it is not surprising that many are struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
This year, instead of burrowing in and facing the coming months with dismay, consider the concept of hygge. Pronounced hue-guh or hoo-gah, the word has started popping up on websites and social media the past few years. Originating in old Norwegian, the word embodies a Danish concept:
Hygge – noun - a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).
More a feeling than a specific set of rules, anything that brings you a sense of joy or comfort can be considered hygge. It is about simple pleasures and being present in those moments that bring you happiness.
As Midwesterners, it’s hard to slow down to experience these things. Conscientious and hardworking as a group, we tend to find it difficult to just exist in the moment. To practice hygge, find the moments that make you content and experience them intentionally.
Here are some things to try:
Find a new book or author to read. A 2009 study at the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68%. Stephen King has said, “Books are uniquely portable magic.”
Make note of when you feel happy. Small moments of contentment are quickly forgotten. A gratitude journal is an excellent way of reminding you of good experiences and feelings.
Create a cozy space. Whether you plan to read or curl up and watch a movie, make the space special. Find some candles for warmth (electric or battery-operated if you have kids or pets) or find a nice blanket or fluffy socks. Even your favorite sweatpants can be hygge!
Make your favorite comfort foods. Think through your memories of food. Which recipes take you to a happy place? Whatever your recipe, put it into regular rotation on your menu and enjoy the memories the meal engenders.
While these steps can help us through the winter months, it doesn’t have to stop there. Hygge is meant to bring a sense of peace and joy throughout the year. Share the ways you find hygge with us or fellow lawyers in the Lawyers Living Well online community.
For a Q&A with MOLAP Director Anne Chambers on seasonal depression click here. For a confidential screening, please contact the Missouri Lawyers’ Assistance Program at 1-800-688-7859. You deserve to feel good about yourself and the work you do.