'Tis the season for hygge.
If you aren't already familiar with this coined Danish term, HERE. Let me catch you up. Because it's *basically* my favorite.
Hygge (pronounced "hoo-ga") is
more than a trendy vocabulary word for the Danish- it's a societal ideal interwoven into much of their day-to-day life and cultural values. And considering that Denmark consistently ranks as the world's happiest nation, they may be on to something. So what exactly is it then?
Hygge is a Nordic word that loosely translates to "well-being" and in practice it's the embodiment of all things warm, cozy, and comforting. Hot tea by the fire, journaling through sunrise, bubblebaths and fuzzy flippers--these are scenes made in hygge heaven. But the concept is more about the feeling these comforts provide and less about instagram-worthy self-care.
Meik Wiking, CEO of The Happiness Institute and author of "The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living" puts it best:
"You know hygge when you feel it. It is when you are cuddled up on a sofa with a loved one, or sharing comfort food with your closest friends. It is those crisp blue mornings when the light through your window is just right. It is about gratitude and savoring the simple pleasures in life.
Have I sold you yet?
We could all use a little more hygge in our life. But for our purposes today, let's narrow the lens to a time I believe it can be especially beneficial . . . pregnancy! Hygge and pregnancy go together like milk and cookies, which is pretty hygge also. And while a pregnant person in any stage or trimester will likely jump at the chance for more cozy, creature comforts in their life ( can you say warm blanket and a foot rub? ), hygge-ing provides an added benefit to those approaching ( or soaring past ) their due date.
Let me explain.
Oxytocin. It's the naturally occurring hormone of love, labor, and orgasm. Our body releases oxytocin when we feel good. And since oxytocin is what also triggers contractions, it's going to play a pretty big role if you're hoping to go in ( and stay in ) labor.
If you've ever ticked down the dates as that 40 week "deadline" looms closer and closer, you probably remember feelings ranging anywhere from mild impatience to "Get this baby out of me NOW." And it's completely normal during this waiting game to feel like there's just *something* you should be doing. Cue Google search. Am I right?
Now perhaps force feeding yourself pineapple cores and walking miles on end is your idea of a good time, and if so-- have at it, friend! But an easier and likely more enjoyable option is to instead simply focus on promoting those warm, safe, loving feelings that get our oxytocin ( read: labor hormone ) flowing! And that's exactly where hygge comes in.
So channel your inner Dane and consider this list your hygge pregnancy starter kit, while of course, adjusting accordingly. Side effects may include extreme feelings of warmth, gratitude, and comfort. Take as needed -- no maximum dose.
Good lighting is about as hygge as it gets. Limit your exposure to ultra bright LED or fluorescent lighting and instead focus on creating a cozy atmosphere through the most warm and natural light sources possible. Think candles, small lamps, open blinds, and of course a soft, cackling fire if you can swing it! Word to the wise: twinkling lights don't just feel cozy and magical around the holidays. Grab a string or two for instant hygge year-round.
2. Warm Food and Beverages
And by warm I don't just mean temperature. While a hot beverage like coffee, tea, or cocoa is an easy hygge go-to, consider whipping up a meal that feels nostalgic and comforting to you also. Maybe it's a traditional stew, a mild curry dish, or a passed down family recipe . . . whatever feels right to you! Earn extra hygge points for preparing the meal alongside a loved one.
3. Prepare a Hyggekrog
A hooga-whatty? Another comfort-related Danish term, hyggekrog roughly translates as "a nook". "It is the place in the room where you love to snuggle up in a blanket, with a book and a cup of tea," writes Meik Wiking. Carve out a spot in your home for a cozy, personal nook complete with a blankets, natural light, easy reading or a journal, and a pregnancy pillow. Maybe even a heating pad for those achy muscles! Consider this your hygge safe haven and aim to spend at least a bit of a time here reflecting and relaxing daily.
4. Dress the Part
Assemble your favorite maternity-friendly comfort attire to really up hygge ante. This is not the time to be squeezing feet into heels, folks! Things that are especially soft, fuzzy, and comfortable are key and natural fibers are a huge plus! If you haven't already, consider changing your life with a pair of belly-supporting maternity leggings. Add an oversized sweater, thick wool socks, and BOOM. Hygge powers, activate.
5. Good Company
Key word: GOOD!
As I mentioned before, not all of hygge is about hot tea and fuzzy socks. It's even more so about comforting moments with the people who make us feel safe, relaxed, and loved. For some, this might mean a girls night in complete with cheesy rom-coms and pedis. For others, a date night with a loved one at your go-to restaraunt. But it is also very common in the last weeks of pregnancy to feel yourself turning inwards and becoming less socially motivated. So the best company you can make time for right now might just be yourself. And that's fabulous too.
6. Living in the Present
This is really the common thread woven through every aspect of hygge and perhaps most important of all.
Sip the tea. Savor the food. Get outside on a cool morning and focus on nothing more but your surroundings and breath. The moments you are waiting for will come. Baby will come. All that is required of you is to be in the exact moment you're in now. Feel all the sensations. Soak in every bit of goodness. Because this is what hygge is about after all.