According to the Mental Health Society 74% of people in the UK feel stressed or are suffering from exhaustion to the point were they could not cope. I was one of those people. So here is what I did about it.
In my personal opinion, I believe there tends to be a percentage of us that feel guilty about relaxing or stopping. Our lives are hectic and if we have any free time we fill it with the things we feel like we’ve neglected, such as housework, socialising or (my personal favourite) napping. In the small window of time that we do have, not being busy, we make ourselves even more busy. We get so caught up that we forget how to sit still and it can even make us uncomfortable (relaxing, how do people do that?). I was beginning to feel this way, struggling to get a restful sleep, and work was hard (here comes the downward spiral). This then goes on to affect my self esteem, my eating habits, my health, my home and my relationships.
When I was getting home in the evening I felt like I was wasting my time in front of the TV, I could not be bothered to cook and I was living in my PJs and work clothes. The weekends were no better, I spent far too long in bed and then moved to the sofa where I again watched TV and basically did nothing else. I did not feel like myself and after a while everything became an effort, I was stretched and exhausted. It’s called a burnout, and if you have ever experienced one, you’ll know that they are really not fun and most likely will end up in an emotional outburst or mental breakdown.
I came across a seven day Hygge challenge that seemed quite simple, and would be able to lift me out of this funk that I had found myself in. So I spoke to the-other-half and we agreed together that we would give this a go.
Hygge (Hoo-ga) is a Danish lifestyle that encourages a person to enjoy the simple pleasures, making your home comfortable and clearing your mind with purposeful activities. It’s fairly relaxed and there are no specific rules, however these were a few guidelines that I had found to get us started.
What we did: Jon and I purposefully turned off all distractions and enjoyed cooking a new recipe, we made a haddock and salmon gratin together, sat down with some calming music and candles, enjoyed each others company and focused on how each other was feeling.
How we felt: It was wonderful, I enjoyed cooking and experimenting with new dishes, the house felt homely the lighting was calm and the music encouraged us to talk. I felt lighter and after a tough day at work coming home to this made me feel accomplished and relaxed. Which in turn gave me more energy to clear up afterwards and get a great nights sleep.
“Yeah, it was great. Nice change to come home and spend time to talk through the day, appreciate food at the table, and trying new recipes. Lead on Macduff!” – Jon
What we did: So truth is Jon broke a glass the night before, we did get flowers but we also were able to get some new glasses as well.
How we felt: So both of us start work around 7:30am and tend not to get back to the house until 6pm so when on a school night Hygge asked us to head out and buy some flowers I thought it was going to be an effort, but what I found was that I was coming home and I was excited to go out and get something nice for the house. In fact I was excited to get out of the house with Jon. We enjoyed walking around the shops and I enjoyed seeing what flowers Jon might pick. Overall I had a great time and felt like I wasn’t wasting my night.
“Due to getting over excited I will admit to performing a rather carelessly vigorous washing up session. Four new glass tumblers and some mini-roses from Sainsbob’s later, I’m happy and relaxed as a pig in…. well… poop.” – Jon
What we did: We hadn’t had the TV on all week and were also not using our phones before bed so we enjoyed a screen-free evening, however I chose to pamper myself with a conditioning hair mask and Jon pleased himself with whatever he did. Jon had lovingly made me a fantastic vegetarian dinner (with mountains of cheese) which I ate happily.
How we felt: I felt great after some self-care I tend not to do these things until the weekend because it does take a great deal of time, however I felt amazing and slept well too. It was also lovely to sit at the table and eat our dinner with our flowers, candles and music.
“Looking back at this, I honestly can’t remember five seconds of Wednesday evening (must have been in persistent Hygge-itive state). Maybe I ate some dinner. Maybe not. Who can say?” – Jon
What we did: This was kind of a throw away evening as life got in the way, I had to stay behind at work for a “bedtime story evening” and ended up not getting home until 8pm, we then booked ourselves a little UK getaway and then headed off to bed as I was in early again the next morning.
How we felt: Once I sat down after my dinner I was determined to complete this challenge, however I thought to myself that this isn’t what this lifestyle is about. Hygge is meant to create a calm and cozy atmosphere in which you feel refreshed. I listened to my body and it told me that I couldn’t create a physical thing (not something that I would be proud of) so we created time with each other and a space in which to share it.
“Didn’t have much in the fridge when I got in, but managed to throw together a cheesy, chicken-y, lettuce burger thing with shredded carrot. Did the job! The remit of the evening was perhaps to bake… but instead of making the kitchen all messy I did some digital drawing instead and finished off a birthday card for a mate of mine who’s a saxophone player (see below). Felt good to finally get it done!” – Jon
What we did: We did cuddle up with a film and some blankets but there was wine and chocolate instead of hot beverages.
How we felt: I felt great, although I didn’t enjoy the film too much it was great to hear Jon laugh and I was happy spending time with him doing something together.
“Waitrose’s fine wine section is usually completely off the table (due to not winning the Euro millions). Tonight however saw a cheeky £20 red reduced to £10… score. Can’t say I’m that up on wine, but it didn’t give me a headache, so mission accomplished I say.” – Jon
What we did: We had a fantastic breakfast of scrambled eggs on toast with a coffee. Although we do have a no eating in the bed rule (enforced by Jon) we then decided to head somewhere new together, bring our laptops/books and explore some new places. We didn’t end up reading/writing but we did stop at a lovely bakery and have a treat with an early grey tea. We then stopped off to get some fabulous ingredients for a very indulgent tea which we made together, enjoyed with our flowers, candles and music, then sat on the sofa under a blanket with wine and watched a brilliant film. All very leisurely in my opinion.
How we felt: I felt amazing after the breakfast, we got some quality ingredients which made it all the better and even though it was a grey day I enjoyed being outdoors. We incorporated pretty much all of the challenges into this day and I felt calm, relaxed and like I was living my life well.
“Chatwins of Sandbach rather rudely decided to inflict a curiously large doughnut on me. I was quite offended and only ate it out of spite…” – Jon
What we did: Well it was pouring down today so we didn’t go for that walk, but we did create lots of things, I finished off a mammoth cross stitch project, cooked a lunch which will also do us tomorrow and wrote this post. Jon created a magnificent Boeuf Bourguignon and practiced his instrument. We also took care of the house and had a brilliant breakfast.
How we felt: I feel utterly accomplished today, I feel like I am ready to tackle the next week and the obstacles it may hold. I feel prepared as we have already cooked our meals for the week and I feel brilliant because it’s been a while since I have had the energy to write a post.
“Spent about four hours cooking the bourguignon, and I was rewarded for my efforts!! It turns out Jamie Oliver has been secretly tasting all my cooking for years, and decided to reveal his plan to retire imminently due the wholesome triumph I had created.
Pretty good day I say.
I leave you with an Irish Ballad… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JEeQU741IU”
Our Hygge challenge was a success, we may not have completed everything in the correct order in or in a clear cut way, but that is not what this lifestyle is about. We took away things from each day and began to incorporate it into our routines naturally. It’s great and I would recommend this challenge to anyone who feels like they are struggling.
We have also decided that we will continue to live a Hygge lifestyle however this week we will compile our own list, stay tuned for that!
The Hygge Challenge: Graceless Approved