The Winter months can easily lead to anyone feeling a bit low. The cold and gloomy weather and the inability to enjoy the outdoors as much amongst other things can have a detrimental effect on some, and what can we do but try to help those in need?
We had come across an article where an author and journalist, Helen Russell, was interviewed about her most recent book titled ‘The Atlas of Happiness’ where she compiled 6 years’ worth of research from around the world about how to keep one’s spirits up during harsher months. Take a look and see if something might help you to stay happy in Winter.
Ireland: Get craic
Craic is all about storytelling. Whatever your format of choice (conversation, poetry, or song), craic is about sharing experiences. Helen mentions that “… psychologists from Oxford University have found that hearing harrowing tales of woe can help with group bonding as well as triggering endorphins as our body gets ready to fight off imagined 'pain' in real life. So, getting scared or sharing sad stories in a group setting can, counter-intuitively, make us happier.”
Spain: Enjoy sobremesa
Do you know what they say about Spaniards? It’s that they enjoy life because they know how to eat! The food isn’t the only part of meals to enjoy though. The idea of sobremesa is to “… eat until you feel like you're pinned down by your own stomach. Then, rather than leaping up to clear all the dishes away, you just sit and enjoy and savour the food and have carb-induced conversation”. An elderly Spanish woman wrote that when friends and the whole family sit together around the table after they eat, their conversations cover a wide range of topics like what happened at home, thoughts about culture and politics, and many others. This can last for hours… What a great way to spend one’s time and bond with loved ones simultaneously!
Denmark: Take time for hygge
The Danish term ‘hygge’ is somewhat difficult to translate directly, but in essence it means something along the lines of ‘a feeling of cosiness’. Cosiness can come in different forms for different people, but one thing that might transcend any border is snuggling under a blanket in a warm room with candlelight while clutching a cup of warm tea or cocoa. Helen mentions that “it makes us feel better because we're practising self-kindness” and in addition to that, when wouldn’t it feel good to be warm and comfortable when it’s cold and grim outside?
Wales: Embrace hwyl
‘Hwyl’ is known to mean that one does something with gusto and basically living life to the fullest which is extended to the Welsh view of learning. Helen found that in Wales, arts and education are prioritized and found pleasurable regardless of age or social class. She says that “it's nice to embrace a philosophy where learning is for learning's sake – where it's not demonised but celebrated because it's good for us. Because learning makes us happier and keeps our brains agile”. When we’re stuck indoors for a fair amount of time, what could it hurt to learn something new? It doesn’t need to be something complicated, as long as you’re enjoying yourself.
Germany: Practise gemütlichkeit
This German word means comfort-inducing and a feeling that relates to a sense of belonging. Helen explains that “it's the idea that you do something cosy that restores your soul. But it should be above your normal needs”. As part of this, if you’re feeling hungry, don’t just have a plain slice of bread and butter (unless that’s your favourite comfort food), rather go for a scrumptious cake. As one of Helen’s German friends exclaims, “(it) means doing something good for your soul". So, it’s simple, if you’re going to give yourself a treat, do it properly!
We hope you’ve found something that you can relate to that could help lift your spirits this Winter. We’ll certainly be trying out all of them!