What can we learn from Hygge?

Henrietta Norton BSc, Dip NT, MBANT, AFMCP Co-founder of Wild Nutrition and Nutritional Therapist.

Autumn for me marks the start of mellow light, a slower pace, the return to 'self' after the high octane, bright energy of summer. I embrace this time, in fact I will be bold enough to say that it is in fact my favourite time of year.

 

As I've written plenty of times before, living and eating seasonally is a way of being that I uphold whenever I can. For me this reaches beyond the physical health benefits of choosing seasonally grown antioxidant-rich root, mineral-dense vegetables or slow cooked stews; it can be an opportunity to reconnect with all that nature provides, support our ability to live flexibly, to ebb and flow, a reminder that we are all part of the cycle.

 

This is a guiding principle at Wild Nutrition as well as our home life. Living and working near the Sussex Downs it's hard not to live a life prompted by the seasons, and walking is a magical experience throughout the year - whatever the weather.

 

For me, Autumn is the season to slow down, to reconnect with ourselves and, with that, deeply reconnect with one another again. It is the time to ‘root build’ with nourishing soups and stews of colourful root vegetables, slow-cooked meat or pulses and digestively warming spices such as ginger and cinnamon.

 

This slowing down also allows us the space to feel more present in our lives, to nurture and celebrate the small and simple things. If we were in Denmark, this would be called Hygge, a wonderful Danish philosophy where the beauty is in celebrating simplicity and the small things around us that often get missed in the chaos; an almost enforced antithesis to the brazen energy of ‘doing’ that the summer brings.

 

This might be sharing wine with a friend, lighting candles in the home, spending time reading on the sofa. The Danish long winters offer a prolonged period for coziness and reflection. The point is that resting and 'doing less' is celebrated in honour of, simply being (we are after all human beings and not human ‘doings’).

 

Likewise, in Sweden there is a movement known as Fika, a culture where coffee and cake are built into daily living to celebrate time with our friends and time to pause.

 

It seems wherever we live there is a growing desire to slow the pace, to get off the rollercoaster for a while. We live in an environment, where time for ourselves can get little validation or opportunity. It is all too easy for our lives to be dictated by the clock, the meeting, the school drop off, cramming all we can into our schedule. Smart phones mean that even our 'down time' can be interrupted by vibrating reminders of an email or a 'tag'. Perhaps all at our own expense; calm, our presence with friends, our kids and most importantly in my view, time with ourselves.

 

Mindfulness, Hygge, Fika, they all boil down to two simple things – to slow down, and to be grateful. I thank Autumn for giving us that chance.

 

For more on Hygge and the importance of slowing down as we move into the cooler months, lookout for our next article of the series '6 Hygge top tips' or see 'Autumnal equinox: 9 Tips to support your health this season'

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