Lockdown II started at midnight and, so far, has had absolutely no impact on my life except that I didn’t open all the shutters in the office. I still have my view, I’m still sat answering the phone, taking the messages and typing wildly to get through a pile of dictation left by my husband overnight in some wicked reversal of The Elves and The Shoemaker. I work hard to eliminate/ almost eliminate my work pile everyday, only to have it increase as I sleep.
But I’m grateful to have a job that isn’t totally affected by Covid, and mindful of the fact that many can’t slip into the office to work, but must do it with laptop balanced on knee or at the edge of a packed kitchen table. Even more so, I’m mindful of the many whose jobs can’t go ahead in the current situations: the servers, the shopworkers and those who have been furloughed and wait to see what happens next. I wish them the best of luck, and hope we all get workplaces, work and wages back as soon as possible.
The difference between this Lockdown and the last are obvious to anyone who has a window. Where last time we sat looking out and watching buds grow, finding comfort in the extra 15 minutes of light a week and following shepherds on Twitter for the lambing season, this time we’re watching the light fade faster than a paperback cover left out in the bright sun, drawing back into our homes instead of long evening walks and finding that hope, that bright, effervescent emotion that kept us bound together in expectation of a cure, a vaccine or a drop in cases, is harder to see when you consider the effects of coronavirus with seasonal flu virus and the backlog of patients paused with other ailments who at some point cease to be optional extras and become emergencies.
Winter Lockdown will be a test even for the strongest minds, and for anyone who struggles with their mental health (that’s someone we all know, really, diagnosed or not) the combination of Lockdown, work stress and lack of emphasis on support or treatment can be too much of a test. Charities concerned with mental health issues have put out statements and appeals, and ask for support for people who need it. And Mind have organised their annual Christmas Crafternoon, a charity fundraiser that uses craft as a way to bring people together and to raise money to support those who need it.
Of course, having a great group of people actually gather together raising funds won’t be possible this year, so Mind are encouraging virtual crafternoons: people meeting up via social media to make and bake and talk together, raise money and boost their own mental wellbeing as well as helping others in need.
Hygge can be hard to find when you’re stressed, have health issues (either physical or mental) or feel alone rather than solitary. I know, though, that finding a way to hygge, to sit and let the world slip away and working on finding joy in the smallest pleasures to help see you through the darkest nights is a great help to many of us. I also know that many members of The Hygge Nook find the friendliness, comfort and support there a boost when life, as now, seems too difficult. At a time when meeting up with family and friends is discouraged in real life, meeting up virtually becomes even more crucial. Together with The Hygge Hug which specifically provides peer to peer support at times of stress, it’s a space where the small pleasures of life assume greater importance and resting together peacefully and free from stress, even if only for five minutes, is an end in itself.
I know I am daily grateful for the Nook and the friendship, laughter and support it gives me. It’s my favourite spot on the internet, and my favourite group on Facebook. I think it might be time for us all to give something back in gratitude.
This December 5th I propose The Hygge Nook and any other followers of my blog join in Mind’s Crafternoon, and see how much we as a group can raise for mental health services either in the UK or in your home country. Obviously, if every one of the 17,000 members tried to join a Zoom call all at once, we’d never manage it: just the squares on the home page alone would drive you mad! My suggestion is that we do it slightly differently, space our events out to suit ourselves during this month of November and have a mass Facebook posting session on 5th December. Donations can be sent to the Just Giving page I have set up in support of the event, or to any local charity of your choice that you know needs support. That way whichever country you are in you can help your fellow humans. Interested? Here’s how I see us achieving this:
Everyone arranges their own craft event: with close family or people inside your bubble. Make cards, decorations, knit and natter. Whatever craft you like or want to do. I’ll share a few easy hygge crafts as well as Mind’s own suggestions as the month goes by.
Hold your Craft Event virtually if you need to: Not everyone has a willing craft accomplice living with them. If your best crafting buddy is in a different bubble, arrange to get together over Zoom or Whatsapp and chat as you craft in different places. The point is to have company as you craft, because friendship and support are what will carry us through.
Share your solo crafting online to find support: If you have no option except craft solo (because life’s like that) then take photos of you and your project and share it in The Hygge Nook or on your social media. Use the hashtag #crafternoon on Instagram or Twitter to make your post more visible to other crafters.
Take photographs or video of your event: Record yourself crafting, laughing and enjoying life. Save this for a mass posting later, or share straight away and repost on 5th December. The choice is yours, but if you do post early please share a link to the Mind Crafternoon page, so that your friends and family can hold their own events as well.
Collect some money, in real life or virtually: Use the Hygge Nook Just Giving page or donate to a charity of your choice. I’d love to see how much we, as a group, could raise together… but I understand if people have a preferred charity local to them that they want to help. The aim is partly about money making, but mostly about raising awareness and creating support for people who need it. Do drop me a line to let me know which charity you’ve helped.
Share the Craft Love on December 5th: Post in The Hygge Nook, on your own timelines or anywhere where you think the message of love and hope needs to be heard. Use the hashtag #crafternoon to increase your visibility, and enjoy scrolling through creative moments with friends, family and colleagues. If you’re like me, you’ll end up with yet another craft you want to do, or another idea for a crocheted geegaw, knitted gonk or papercrafted star. Whatever. I’ll be back in December to share final totals and pictures of the crafting we’ve done.
Even if you (like my husband) are not a crafty person, perhaps you could try something else in your skill set. Bake a cake, write a poem, clear a cupboard, paint a shelf. Crafts can be practical as well as pretty and it’s the process of flow, of mindfulness it induces, rather than the product that is important. Spend some time this month finding and doing something that gives you that sense of flow, of lost time, and you’ll be minding your mental health. Sharing that with others gives them permission to do likewise. And raising money gives them the resources as well.
And please share this post on your social media feeds: Let’s get the world crafting for Mental Health this month. Every knitter helps, as Tesco might say.
***If you’re particularly low, anxious or depressed at the moment do, please reach out to the organisations that are there to help. These include:
In case of an emergency/risk to one’s life – please call 999. For urgent not life-threatening care call NHS 111.
Childline – for children and young people under 19
Call: 0800 1111 – the number won’t show up on your phone bill
The Silver Line – for older people
Call: 0800 4 70 80 90 – Every day 24 hours
No one should be going through this without support. Sometimes asking for help can be the hardest thing, but the only thing we need to do. Ask, and ask again.***
If you’d like to support me….
I don’t monetise my blog. I don’t run adverts, take sponsorship for writing posts or use affiliate links. I want everything I do on this blog and in my hygge life outside to be truthful. If I promote a book it’s because I’ve read it and like it, if I point out an item it’s because it’s impressed me on its own merits and not because the publicist has talked me into it. It does mean I don’t run giveaways and I’m not chasing followers, but the drawback is that I need to find a way to support myself.
That’s why I write books. My thoughts are that if I ask you to buy a book not only does it support me, and let me keep writing as an independent writer, but you get something back for your bucks. I’ve written several books, some on Hygge, some on Christmas. If you like what you read here, or in the Hygge Nook, and you’d like to support a struggling writer, would you please consider buying a book? E-books give you the best value, since for 2 or 3 pounds you get the whole content of the book without paying the extra for paper production, but I’d be a pretty poor writer if I didn’t appreciate the beauty of a real book in the hand. If you buy even just one book, it all adds up in the end to support me, and I’d be so grateful.
My latest book, Celebrating a Contagious Christmas, is available on Amazon now as an ebook and, by popular demand, a paperback. It’s about the adjustments we’ll have to make to our usual Christmas celebrations if we’re in Lockdown come December, how illness or employment may make a difference and how we have to spread hope, not germs, in an attempt to keep the world on an even keel.
Cosy Happy Hygge is available as an ebook or a paperback on Amazon now. It’s about using rhythm and ritual to make your life a gentler, kinder place. Writing it has been an important part of my mental health recovery.
My first three books are hygge related, 50 Ways to Hygge the British Way was my first book, and is available in Paperback and Kindle version. It’s a simple look at ways to feel more hyggely in life and at home even though we’re not Danish and don’t have it in our DNA. Although it was inspired by the blog, it’s completely original work and not collected blogposts. It will probably be updated and an improved second edition coming in Spring 2021.
Happier is my fourth book. It’s about how I boost my own happiness levels. It’s full of hints, tips and ideas for you to use and adapt to suit your own situation. It is available in ebook and paperback version from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.
I have three Christmas books,
Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas was released in September 2017 and is available again in paperback and ebook version. It looks at keeping the Christmas season warm and cosy, with ideas for activities and routines to keep Christmas happy.
A (Hygge) Christmas Carol is my look at Dickens’ immortal classic and the many lessons we still learn from it today. It contains the full text of the book as well as hyggely thoughts on the story.
Enjoying a Self Care Christmas is only available in e-book version. It’s about keeping Christmas simple enough and healthy enough to keep you sane in the process. I’m hoping to do a series of Self Care through the year books.
If you already have my books, or just want to support me as an independent writer, you can always just send me the price of a cup of coffee as a friend, to paypal.me/HyggeJem . I tend to use a lot (all) of my spare cash on books that I review for the website, so every penny donated goes towards building my happy hygge life.
If you buy any of the books or some of the items through the links on this page, I get a couple of extra pence per copy, as an Amazon Affiliate, in Amazon vouchers which go towards buying more books to review for the blog. I’d really love it if you’d support me monetarily, but I quite understand that cash is tight for many people, and I just love having your support via reading and commenting as well.
Truthfully, I’ll probably never make a living as a writer, but I do make a little extra income that gets ploughed back into books and magazines. One obsession feeds the other.