When a massive event happens in your life, it’s hard sometimes to think about a life beyond that event. Falling in love, having a baby, serious illness and bereavement can all leave you in a fog and looking at life through coloured spectacles… and sometimes that colour is black.
For most people, they find a coping mechanism, deal with the feelings as they arise and get on with life. Some people are more sensitive, or sometimes an event is so massive that they can’t get past the feelings and any mention of ‘IT’ will trigger their initial concern. We’ve had examples of that in The Hygge Nook in the past couple of weeks.
The Nook is usually a safe, kind, gentle and friendly place. Usual arguments are about jam or marmalade, whether it’s acceptable to put flowers in a bedroom and how often you can see a swift. I’m not saying that we’ve suddenly turned nasty: quite the opposite. Because of our (and by ‘our’ I mean all the members of the Nook) concern for those of us who cannot handle any extraneous stress, and mindful of the fact that others need to talk about the virus which is having an impact on the very nature of our lives, it became apparent that we needed a way to allow discussion of Covid-19 and still keep a safe space where tea, coffee and the cost of candles could be th emost controversial thing you see all day. A place to share quiet moments of peace and security, the building blocks of life.
So I am proud to introduce the latest member of the Hygge Nook family: Hygge in the Time of Coronavirus (with apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez).
It’s a group of hygge lovers who, while striving for that kind, safe, secure, homely feeling of hygge, also recognise a need to discuss the implications of Coronavirus on our lives, to share uplifting and inspirational thoughts, to share advice, ideas and resources for social isolation and distancing which, although absolutely necessary for the most vulnerable in society, must seem like a faff and overkill to the healthiest mind sometimes. It allows for even the most positive person to have a breakdown and admit how hard it can be to waver between sending your child into school and keeping them home safe and secure. It gives support through what will be a world-changing experience and begins to let us think ahead to how we, as a society, may change in future and rebuild a better experience for our community.
Membership, as always, is free and although you can be a member of both The Hygge Nook and Hygge in the Time of Coronavirus and that gives you the best of both worlds, it’s possible to only join the one you need most: virus-free, or virus-compatible.
And we do need hygge at this time. The Coronavirus is acting like a very powerful lens, concentrating our minds very tightly on what actually is important to us. Big hint: it’s not shopping and going out. As long as we have food and a place to live, then the things that matter to us are the things that always matter to us: the love we have for family and friends, and the love they have for us. The next few months, however long it lasts, are going to be incredibly stressful because it’s asking us to stretch our relationships. Learning to hande that stress, to set it aside and simply be for a short while, will be incredibly important to us all. Adapting our lives to allow for the absolute minimum of physical interaction, the least amount of contact with people outside of our immediate family will take thought. It’s been too easy to jump in a car and drive to see a friend, and yet not doing that at the moment may save a life. But we still need to ‘see’ that friend, to spend time with them. Humans are social animals, and we cannot, for our own mental health, spend months alone without being changed, sometimes for good, sometimes for bad.
So, how can we find hygge in a world that’s on the edge?
Well, create space for hygge in your home. Don’t be obsessive, but keep the place reasonably tidy. Get the physical building blocks of hygge in place and use them. You need a comfy place (or places) to sit, cushions if you need them, a throw if it’s chilly. Keeping the lights low in an evening is peaceful and calming, lighting a candle gives a busy mind a place to focus. And use noise well, either by playing soothing background music or by listening to the world. One of the biggest revelations about people travelling much less has been that the birdsong is actually audible, where usually for me it’s drowned in a steady hum of traffic.
And create a temporal space for hygge. Don’t just do social isolation, be solitary. Set aside time to meditate, to rest and just be in the moment. Got children? Depending on their age, get them to meditate as well, although you may find visualising a journey through a wood, under the sea or into the underground is a better way of getting them to sit and not think. Two hundred years on from William Wordsworth we are still wasting our lives in getting and spending. We need to reconnect to ourselves and others in the moment, and that moment is now.
Hygge is so much about relating to others, though, and if you are alone and self-isolating it can seem hard. You’ll need to be creative, and committed to finding a way. Can you do video calls? Use a phone on speaker to share a few moments with a friend or relative. Perhaps having a set time to meet online in a group like The Hygge Nook could be the way to go. You’ll all be all over the world, but using the same thread in the Nook to share moments, pictures, conversation.
I live with my husband and young adult children. Usually there’s always one or other of us going out and a race, sometimes, to have food and get on. The last few days we’ve been able to truly sit back and enjoy food, no fast races, no attempt to gobble it down before choir/archery/WI/football. It’s beginning to feel positively hobbit-like, except we don’t kick back and have a pipe. I’m consciously trying to make mealtimes more of an event, perhaps because in an uncertain world, food is a way of showing love even when a decent hug is off the cards.
The next few weeks will be rough, I’d be lying if I said they weren’t going to be. It’s up to us to find the speck of gold in them. Those little specks will be what makes our lives shine in the end.
*** Please Read ***
Usually here I post some words on my books, how lovely it is to be supported by people reading and buying my books. I’m not going to do that for the next few months. People don’t have the spare cash at the moment. It means my income will take a hammering, but it’s a small thing. (of course, if you want to support me and buy my books, you’ll find them on Amazon, and thank you)
Do you have any spare cash? Then save it. There will be plenty of people in need because of the economic impact of the virus in the months and years to come. Or donate it to a foodbank or soup kitchen near to you. As a wise woman remarked this week, this is a marathon and not a sprint. Let’s get through it together.