Embracing Hygge for Better Health
Embracing a growth mindset is essential for change, especially when taking on new health challenges and goals.
This can be incredibly challenging while moving on the runway to year-end - starting with Daylight Saving Time, flipping that clock back in early fall, and losing those scant afternoon daylight hours as the sun sets earlier. Combine that with a drop in temperature as we slip into winter, and you’re most likely being impacted by changes that affect your activity levels and mood.1
Next, you may experience higher than usual stress levels as the holidays roll around, with parties, planning, people, and spending more money than planned. In all that rush, the healthy routines you already have in place may be easier to let go, even if you think you’ll pick them up again with your New Year’s resolutions.
Even in January, the pressure to begin those new healthy resolutions with a bang becomes a bit crushing as the month moves forward quickly. With a few weeks of the new year under your belt, you may feel closer to that “Blue Monday” slump (or the third Monday in January, typically referred to as the most depressing day of the year) as expectations rise and motivation starts to wane. Couple that with negative news cycles and the unreality of social media feeds, and you have a recipe for self-sabotage.
Changing your life - even for the better - is tough and requires dedication. But maintaining that motivation and pushing to attain your goals can become exhausting. It’s easy to get swept away and even spiral when nothing seems to change (or change fast enough to satisfy you).
The Best Trick to Change? Starting With Gratitude Over What Hasn’t Changed
Rather than focus on all the things that are slipping alongside your motivation, sometimes focusing on the now over the what-if can help you grow towards your goals even more.
Around the world, the idea of ‘Hygge’ is being embraced. Known as the Norwegian/Danish word for ‘a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment,’ it roughly translates to bringing things into your life that spark joy and bring you feelings of warmth.
Unfortunately, we don’t typically associate a growth mindset for improving our lives with warm feelings of comfort and coziness - but occasionally, and perhaps not often enough - that’s exactly what we need. Especially when it comes to bettering ourselves from the inside out.
To invoke those warm feelings, we should be starting our health journeys with gratitude first. Our bodies are miracles. Every cell, every neuron, and every microbe inside of us is working together to keep us thriving. The fact that you are here - right now - reading this article is a modern marvel of nature. Before you make changes to your life, start with acknowledging how incredible you are. Take comfort in knowing your body is capable of changing and cozy up to the idea that you are so much more than just the sum of your parts.
Hygge for Health
The 2020s have proven to be significant years for soul-searching. Perhaps your priorities have shifted some. Maybe your New Year’s resolutions looked vastly different compared to earlier years. In truth, you’re not alone.
Researchers found that throughout the pandemic, the idea and importance of ‘comfort’ became a compounding necessity in life. You most likely noticed the increase in accessibility in comfortable clothing, matching sweater sets, home decor that felt cozy, and wall paint that evokes feelings of nature and ‘zen’ - these are all signs that much of society around us is looking for ways to find sources of comfort - or hygge - in everyday items.2
Fashion styles aren’t the only thing that has changed, though. Psychologists cataloged a number of coping mechanisms individuals used to help better accept the events that unfolded around them, bringing new ways of depicting comfort into their lives.3
During times of high stress and uncertainty, we are attracted to activities and items that give us a sense of control and predictability--things we can count on to be consistent. This can be anything from warm room lighting and aromatherapy to more hugs to release that feel-good hormone oxytocin into our systems. Studies have shown using “cozy” tactics like these has comforting and relaxing effects on the body and mind.4,5,6,7
For many of us, there may still be echoes or remnants of post-COVID life - finding comfort continues to help shape many of our decisions (and will continue to for a long time).
Why should your health journey be any different?
Starting something new can be a little frightening. And lest we forget, we’re learning just how high the stakes can get when we’re not actively looking to improve our health. With the rise of chronic conditions, scientists are showing more than ever how important it can be to take our health seriously and make better decisions with our nutrition.
But there is no reason to feel as if you’re facing an uphill battle. Take a moment to center yourself each day. Take gratitude for where you are now - today - and find comfort in the miracle that you are.
There is a way to use Hygge for Better Health - and it begins with a little education about the role of your gut and your health, and then a shoulder you can lean on for change: Viome.
We’re here to make your journey for better health feel less like a duel and more like a hug. By appreciating you - and your individuality - and giving you insights into the health of your specific body, we’re bringing a little more comfort in knowing what your next actions will be.
Less stressing and less guessing. The answers to your New Year’s Resolutions start with a little Hygge and hopefully end with a little more love for you.
1 Vogel, K. (2023, Nov 3). Health News, online at healthline.com.
2 Sola-Santiago, F. (updated 2021, June18). Fashion, online at Refinery29.com.
3 Berman, R. (2020, May 6). Articles, online at MedicalNewsToday.com.
4 Chao, W.C., Hong, L.Y., Hsieh, M.C., et al. (2019). Ergonomics. Vol. 63, 2020 - Issue 2 pgs. 175-190. doi.org/10.1080/00140139.2019.1699964.
5 Holt-Lunstad, J. (2018). Annual Review of Psychology. Vol. 69:438-458. doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-122216-011902.
6 Light KC, Grewen KM, Amico JA. (2005). Biol Psychol. 2005 Apr;69(1):5-21. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2004.11.002. Epub 2004 Dec 29. PMID: 15740822.
7 Igarashi M, Ikei H, Song C, Miyazaki Y. (2014). Complement Ther Med. 2014 Dec;22(6):1027-31. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2014.09.003. Epub 2014 Sep 28. PMID: 25453523.