Hygge Home: Bringing the Outside In

Splattering raindrops have been hitting my window-panes all day and there’s an autumnal wind whipping the golden-turned leaves of the tree in the back garden. I love being outside, yes, even in the wind and rain. It’s so exhilarating and don’t you think that some of your most memorable outdoor
days have been the ones where you’ve had to battle the elements? Getting inside, and out of your wet gear, with a hot brew at home or a pint of something stronger by a roaring real fire in a cosy pub is the joyful payoff that makes wild weather days out all the sweeter.

But sometimes, even I don’t want to face a face full of stinging hail or a biting wind gnawing at my fingers and need instead, the comforting feel of snuggling up at home all warm and cosy.

You’ll recognise that feeling I’m sure, and probably also know of the Danish term ‘hygge’ defined as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being”.

But in tucking ourselves up inside, we can be removing ourselves from the visceral, elemental experiences and huge benefits that come from spending time in nature: improved mental wellbeing, less stress and anxiety, increased immunity and all the other good things that come from connecting with the natural world.

The great news is that we can embrace our hygge instincts indoors – whilst also benefiting from the nature connectedness we get from the outdoors – by employing a few nifty tricks to bring the outdoors in. 

Here are just 3 to get you started:

1. Fill your home with greenery.

Plants can literally breathe life into your house, significantly improving your health and wellbeing. Adding house plants to your home helps to eliminate air pollutants and improve air quality, boost moods, increase creativity and productivity, reduce stress and make you feel calmer and happier. There’s a plant for every room. Here are just a few:

Living rooms: Peace Lilies and Philodendrons absorb indoor air pollutants and purify air.

Bedrooms: Orchids and Snake plants give out oxygen at night, which makes them perfect night-time companions.

Bathrooms: Air Plants and Ferns are perfect here as they don’t need soil and can get most of the water they need from the air in a moist environment.

Hallways: Dwarf Kaffir Lime trees provide a wonderful fresh smell – a natural air freshener! And of course, you can also use the leaves in cooking.

Kitchens: Aloe Vera is a healing plant and also almost impossible to kill. Rubbing the gel-filled interior of the leaves on scrapes and burns has an instant cooling effect. Obviously being careful with your
kitchen implements and equipment is a better option!

2. Fill the air with essential oils.

When we’re out walking amongst trees, we’re breathing in the chemicals they emit, known as phytoncides. The effects of these chemicals on our bodies are profound: boosting the number of natural killer T cells which fight disease and infection in our bodies, increasing the number of anti-cancer proteins, reducing the levels of stress hormone cortisol, lowering blood pressure and glucose levels to name but a few.

Incredibly, research has shown that by using woodland essential oils in a vaporiser or reed diffuser in your home, you can get 50% of the effect of going for a real walk in the woods! Try these:

Hinoki (Japanese Cypress): Fresh, lemony, slightly smoky aroma. Relieves tension, nervousness and anxiety. Promotes relaxation (sympathetic nervous system ‘rest and digest’). Boosts immunity.

Scots Pine: Herby, fresh, piney, strong. Eases mental and physical fatigue. Clears a cluttered mind and sharpens focus.

Douglas Fir: Intense citrus. Aids relaxation. Effects are similar to meditation. Promotes a positive mood and focus.

Cedar: Woody, earthy, spicy, warm, resinous, sweet. Relaxes the nerves and calms the spirit. Stimulates emotional strength. Promotes sleep.

Eucalyptus: Sharp, slightly medicinal with scents of mint, honey, citrus. Relieves tension and stress.

3. Fill your walls with images of nature.

We know by now that there is no shortage of research highlighting the benefits of spending time outdoors. But when we’re feeling the need for our ‘hygge’ days, the amazing and uplifting fact is that the nature doesn’t have to be ‘real’ for us to get the some of the same benefits! Studies have found that just looking at pictures of nature has been shown to lower levels of stress and to restore our brains by reducing mental fatigue.

Viewing green scenes from the comfort of our armchairs, or when we’re sitting at our computers, provides a micro-restorative experience. So filling your walls with photos or paintings of natural scenes and making your computer desktop a picture of nature are really easy wins!

So, if you don’t feel like taking that step outside your front door on a blustery, damp winter’s day, you know you can simply create for yourself a nature connected, happy, healthy, hygge home. Curl up and get the kettle on…….


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