How to hygge when the bugs have got you.

There’s a wide stripe of self-care in hyggering. Making a nest, looking after yourself and your tribe, hunkering down for the winter, or the summer, or anytime really, it’s all about looking after the inner self, the well-being of yourself and each other.

And that comes into sharp focus when the winter chills strike. Lighting candles and relating to each other in a non-confrontational way are all very well when you’re full of the joys of life, and bounding with enough energy to light the candles, make the stew and play the card games, but when every bone in your body is aching, every nerve is tingling without the need for watching horror films and the last thing you feel is like relating to anybody at all… where’s the hygge in that?


Well, hygge is about well-being and self care. You need to up your hygge dose, in an easy and effective way. You want to keep your spirits up, boost your immune system and make sure that whatever vile illness is attacking you can only have you for a little while, not as a lingering episode. Here are my top hygge tips to get you back on your feet as quickly as possible;

1.Use your common sense. If you’re not well, like contagiously not well, is it better to have a little time off and not spread the germs, or to force yourself in, spread the germs and have the office down ill? It’s that work-life balance issue that the UK is so bad at; you are either in and 100% so you stay every hour God gives, or you are dying and stay at home. I used to teach, and that is an awful place to be when you’re not well because there is no such thing as an easy day. And germs spread through a school like wildfire, so really it’s better to think twice before automatically being a martyr and dragging yourself in. A day… or two… spent at home now will have you better faster than a week of half-awake days because you haven’t shaken the illness off.

2. Use any flexibility you have. Can you go to work an hour later just for the next couple of days? Or could you leave a little earlier? Sometimes just a late start helps you to cope with a cold or flu-ishness better than your usual early start. And if you’re a mother, can the Other Half do the morning run, or at least give you a short lie in? Be creative.

3. Nest. At home, get your hygge nook set up and nest. Which is your warmest chair? Is it cosy? Does it need a pillow for your head or a footstool? Would a lamp to see by help? Or moving it a little to catch the dying rays of sunlight in the afternoon? Your chair also needs a table nearby for the hot drinks you’ll need, and the TV remote because if you are at home and need company, then the TV is your best bet.


4.Always have the food you need to indulge your comfort. A cold or sickness is not the time for heavy boxes of  chocolate. You won’t need big meals unless someone else is cooking. I find, taste and memory being so combined, that Heinz Tomato Soup is what I hunger for when I’m ill. I remember my Nana, who lived with us, would heat it up and bring it in a small rabbit bowl that we’d had from babyhood. On a tray, with toast buttered and sliced, and the same round spoon we’d used since childhood. What’s your comfort food? For some it may be soup, or cheese on toast, or rice pudding, or just a slice of buttered bread. If you’re feeling under the weather, get it in.

5. Choose your activity well. I love crafting, but I can never concentrate long enough to do any when I’m nursing a cold or recovering from a bug. It’s a cop-out, but the TV comes into its own now. And comfort TV. Now is not the time for Diary of a Serial Killer or a gripping psychological thriller. Get cosy with TV Hygge. I spent an enjoyable week in March with vertigo and earache watching Gilmore Girls; hygge personified. By the end, I’d finished the first series and was keen to carry on. Films can also be useful, but make sure they’re ones you’ve watched often enough that you can drift in and out of sleep without missing plot twists. I’d say books, but reading hurts sick eyes, so turn to audible. Spoken books are brilliant, with a range you wouldn’t believe. Both Meik Wiking’s Little Book of Hygge and Charlotte Abraham’s Hygge; A Celebration are available as audio books. It’s rather pleasant to fall asleep to the cool, Danish accent….

6. Use any offers. If you live alone and the neighbour or co worker offers to drop off bread and milk, say thank you and smile. But say YES, and have a day when you don’t need to worry about the lumps in your coffee. I live with a family. They are my family, really, but when I’m ill they come into their own. I can have tea made, TV control changed and my comfort all taken care of… for the first 24 hours. After that, I’m on my own and just need to pull myself together. But for that 24 hours it’s bliss. I usually try to get a week’s washing done, and meals for 3 days made.

7. Take the right medicine.  Don’t be a martyr. Take the red pill, or the blue pill or the pill that takes the chills away. Unless you’re really anti-drugs, it is better to help your system fight the infection now than to let it get a strong hold. But make sure it’s the right medicine. Cold relief is no good for a sore back, paracetamol help with pain but not inflammation and sometimes you really are better off just sweating it out with honey and lemon than hiding the symptoms and stretching the pain out.


So, there you are. 7 top hygge tips for dealing with illness. I’m off now to snuggle in my blanket, sip my hot tea and drink my tomato soup. The third series of Gilmore Girls is set up on Netflix, and life is good. With a couple of early nights and an extra hour tomorrow morning, I’ll be fine.

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