In yesterday’s CIRCLE, we talked about “hygge” – one of my very favorite words to pronounce! – as a legit coping strategy for life.
Not familiar with the concept of hygge (pronounced HUE-ga)? It’s a Danish word with no exact English counterpart, though typically it’s translated to mean an atmosphere or feeling of “cozy” or “comfort” (think mug of hot tea, soft blanket, snuggling into a book on a rainy day, sitting by a fire, fuzzy socks, fairy lights, etc.).
And of course this may seem frivolous on first blush, but I would argue that ANY attempt to feel more cozy and comfortable in our skin and homes and day-to-day existence is a meaningful, laudable effort. I mean, life can be hard and cold enough sometimes; why wouldn’t we want to bring some softness and warmth, especially as fall looks to the winter ahead?
Hygge, to me, is another way to add evenness and harmony, to find the sweet spot between opposites and extremes. It’s the same way we seek the balance between ease and effort in yoga. And it’s particularly important for today’s women: the first generation of girls raised on the promise of “you can have it all” has grown up strung out on the pressure of trying to achieve an entirely unachievable standard.
From where I sit, opportunity has become an inescapable noose of expectations as the option to choose anything has morphed into an impossible mandate to undertake, and excel at, everything. Overwhelming doesn’t begin to describe it.
The women who came before me could not have predicted what unintended burdens their efforts would bear: a whole swath of society fighting an internal battle of ambition versus sanity, options versus the logical constraints of a twenty-four-hour day. It’s no wonder one in eight Americans is on antidepressants – an increase of nearly 65 percent over fifteen years – with women twice as likely to take them as men. And is it any surprise alcohol abuse among women in the U.S. is up nearly 84 percent in the last decade? Today’s “mommy juice” culture is literally dripping with women drinking to cope with their lives. (And the last couple years only shot those rates higher.)
But it’s not too late to adjust.
The other day I came across the most beautiful reflection by a woman named Nicola Jane Hobbs, who goes by the moniker “The Relaxed Woman,” that I think you’ll appreciate.
“Growing up, I never knew a relaxed woman,” she wrote. “Successful women? Yes. Productive women? Plenty. Anxious and afraid and apologetic women? Heaps of them. But relaxed women? At-ease women? Women who don’t dissect their days into half hour slots of productivity? Women who prioritize rest and pleasure and play? Women who aren’t afraid to take up space in the world? Women who give themselves unconditional permission to relax? Without guilt? Without apology? Without feeling like they need to earn it?
I’m not sure I’ve ever met a woman like that. But I would like to become one.”
Yes. Let’s become THAT woman.Let’s give her the comfort she deserves.
Light your candle. Enjoy the feeling of your softest sweater upon the skin of your arms. Throw out the thin socks that crowd your drawer and put on the fuzzy ones instead.
In other words, care for yourself with the same tenderness you care for others. Live hygge, no matter the temperatures outside. It is always the season for self-love.
P.S. If you need any inspiration, look no further than my cats curled up in a basket in front of the heat vent. That’s hygge 100%.