The simple things in life – living with a somatic view everydayHeidi Hadley
Several months ago my husband and I were talking about happiness and the rising statistics with depression and anxiety in many countries. We then asked each other what is Denmark doing different to the rest of the world? Every year they are top of the list for being one of the happiest and content nations. So why? Considering they have very little sunlight from October to March and their weather is very cold and wet during that time, what are they doing differently?
We decided to investigate the subject further! We discovered that the Danish have created a somatic lifestyle! They call their lifestyle “Hygge” (pronounce hooga).
In many countries we have become fascinated with technology. We will spend a considerable amount of time using it, from ebooks, to videos, to emails, to reading magazine articles, to social media, to forms of communication such as Zoom and Skype. We have become a fast paced society and this has allowed our Limbic system, which is the ‘fight or flight’ stress centre in our brain to start winding up gradually. Eventually we start feeling overwhelmed, helpless and exhausted.
We discovered that Hygge actually creates a respite from these issues of exhaustion, adrenal fatigue, the feeling of being overwhelmed, a disconnection from ourselves, our community and where we live. Hygge gets you off that figurative hamster’s wheel.
Hygge cannot be translated in to English too easily but the word refers to it as “cosiness of the soul,” “cocoa by candlelight” or “the absence of annoyance.” It sounds luscious already! Hygge is a conscious daily somatic choice the Danish have built into their lifestyle. It is the desire for comfort, simplicity, contentment, warmth, togetherness, safety, familiarity, trust, bonding and peacefulness.
The power of personal connection
In my last blog I highlighted how social anxiety has increased and many people stick very closely to their own family, often socialising with their immediate family members. Many are reluctant to reach out to others and connect. Sadly this is a reflection of what we see in society now, less social connections leading to poor immune function, anxiety, depression and low self esteem. People are spending more time looking at screens instead of faces and growing their minds with stimulating conversation on many topics.
Many studies have shown that a reduction in social connection and interaction has a huge effect on our health. The reports highlight that a lonely person’s health deteriorates at a faster rate than that of a smoker, someone with obesity and high blood pressure.
Hygge is taking us back to the reason we are here for, to be part of a group or tribe. It is where we blossom in the company of people with a genuine, kind connection to us. We experience meaningful, sincere and caring interaction, without the conversation ever becoming judgemental, jealous, competitive, controlling or critical of others or ourselves. Instead it is a time to share uplifting stories, have belly laughs and have that feeling that you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else at that moment in time, you are truly mindful and very much in the moment.
Looking at the Hygge approach and combining it with a somatic lifestyle, my husband and I have become deliberately conscious of what we have in our home and where we place our greatest importance.
Part of the research and lifestyle factors the Danish implement includes lighting, the use of technology and family interaction.
In order to experience how the Danish live with Hygge, we consciously changed and adapted our lifestyle, focus and home. We decided to either put our electronic devices on silent or switch them off. They are kept away from us in the evening, rather than being attached to a limb! Our meal times consist of us talking without TVs, phones or other distractions drawing our focus away from being in the moment. We use this time to talk about our day, humorous memories and exciting plans we have in store! Hygge is about sensing and feeling, yet again another aspect of somatic living. It is about feeling secure, content, safe and present.
Another area which is included with hygge is relaxing lighting. Soft, warm lighting is crucial and we have found that the use of candles, a Himalayan Salt Lamp and using relaxing corner lamps has really changed the ambience at home. When I walk in from work, the house feels calm, cosy, secure and so inviting. It is when you experience the sense and feeling of walking into a homely environment that you can imagine how this creates a surge in serotonin and dopamine (the happy and pleasure hormones) during cold, dark winter months in Denmark. They really do enjoy the feeling, experience and sensations that simple things can do to your mind and body. They are inexpensive items which create a priceless effect on your emotional and physical health when they are BUILT in to your lifestyle. Your home becomes your sanctuary.
Embrace a simple life
People have more material items than ever before but the statistics show that depression, anxiety and suicide are increasing. The age bracket is getting wider, with young ones now included in these statistics. Many know that objects, possessions and wealth will not bring happiness. Likewise living a life on the bread line or ‘penny pinching’ isn’t much fun either. So what is the solution?
Hygge is based around ‘being,’ not having. It is stopping, savouring and enjoying life’s simple pleasures…without the need to photograph everything and have a ‘selfie’ with the moment!! Some cultures such as England, have the equivalent, “let’s have a cup of tea!” However that is where is stops. In Denmark, their approach to Hygge Is about fully experiencing that moment as a ritual. This will include taking a complete break from the hustle and bustle, enjoy the quiet break without the distraction of a book, mobile device, radio, TV or other stimuli. By naming this down time ‘Hygge,’ people are more likely to devote quiet time to this activity, knowing the positive emotional, mental and physiological effects they are CREATING during this time.
Stop feeling guilty.
Hugge is all about taking time out and allowing yourself a break and opportunity to enjoy the simple things in life. This includes having a break from eating healthy and having a day of indulgence, in the form of having chocolate, cake, wine, coffee or hot chocolate. Unless you avoid certain foods for intolerance or sensitivity issues, don’t feel guilty for indulging in a treat. Life is too short to be anal about everything every day, we need to lighten up and give ourselves permission to have a day of ‘goodies.’
Creating Hygge in your life will bring balance, contentment and harmony to your health and well being. After several months of practising Hygge, we can see why Denmark are a happy nation. They have created a balance in their life, they have learnt to ‘lighten up’ and enjoy life. They still have their responsibilities but they have created a lifestyle which allows them to stop, sense and feel how their body and mind are truly feeling.
In many countries such as Australia, UK, USA, Canada and throughout Europe, people have thought ‘busyness’ equals productiveness. They also feel that if they aren’t racing around filling their day with multiple tasks and commitments, they aren’t achieving enough! This is where we have to stop and ask, what are you wanting to achieve? Adrenal Fatigue? Chronic fatigue syndrome? Pushing stress, anxiety and trauma from recent or past events down so you don’t have to think about them? Approval from others? Wanting to look good in society or your circle of friends/associates?
This is when we combine our Somatic awareness and the principles of Hygge together. Please use the support material below. Using this support material, Stop and meditate over your daily and weekly rituals. Could you shift your mindset and start caring for yourself, putting a value on your present health and well being?
If you feel you live in a hamster’s wheel, are disconnected, exhausted and feel you have no control over your life, then STOP. Assess your life, apply the principles of Hygge and allow The Total Somatics Approach to Health & Wellness Online Program (www.TotalSomatics.com) shape your life into a healthier, more balance, somatic lifestyle. Allow me to develop and guide you through the subjects of mindset, mindfulness and somatic movement to enhance your quality of life.
You may feel that you have nothing to change and have a balanced lifestyle. That’s great. However science has shown in recent years that our brain and body continue to grow and develop. Sometimes we can become set in a habit or routine which doesn’t bring a great deal of variation or differentiation to our brain and body. So could you consider stepping outside of your comfort zone and allowing your body to sense and feel so much more? We can become creatures of habit, having the same daily routine, associating with the same few people, talking about the same few subjects. Maybe we could look at developing a somatic lifestyle which allows us to branch out with confidence and talk to others and learn new subjects from others. This opportunity allows us to see life from another angle and allows us to learn so much more about ourselves and others. It is part of the rich tapestry of life.
I love this quote from Maya Angelou which sums up beautifully the link between creating a somatic lifestyle and developing the principles of Hygge:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget HOW you made them feel.”
Let’s start learning from the Danish and add this to our daily Somatics practice, on a physical, emotional and mental health level. When we practise Somatics, it is more than a mechanical exercise. It is working slowly and mindfully with your mind and body, allowing you to notice, sense and feel. Teaching your mind and body to fully relax and allow for time to release long held patterns of muscular tension and tightness plus reviewing how your daily habits could be contributing towards your current health and well being.
To learn more, go to www.TotalSomatics.com
Heidi Hadley xx