How are your anxiety levels? Mine are quite high, with issue layered upon issue and no control over any of them. What power do I really have over Covid, Ukraine, familial choices, local or national politics and more besides?
And I’m a news hound. I read a daily newspaper online (or sometimes two), we have a news channel on as the default background noise at home, I watch a daily politics show when I can, I am on Twitter, on Facebook, on the go all the time. In a Pointless round on UK MPs, I can actually get a Pointless answer. The world, as Wordsworth would have put it, is too much with us. And today (look at the date today: 22.02.2022, a palindromic date) the news is full of panic over Ukraine, the cessation of covid measures, the weather, and as is the current style lots of people responding, giving opinions, worrying over the airwaves and adding their panic to my concerns.
Watching too much news can adversely affect our emotions, making us feel lower than we really are, and we really are indulging in rubbernecking with no real power to change anything. As the Circles of Concerna nd Control above show, we waste energy worrying about things we cannot change.
Enough! I can’t take on the cares of the world, so I need to shed them. I need to take a break from external issues and concentrate on what I need to concentrate on and have power over: my family, their health and wellbeing, my friends and close acquaintances and me.
So, in my quest to create a sanctuary at home, I am setting out on a news fast during March. As much as possible, I will go back to a once or twice a day bulletin, see the newspaper only on a Sunday when Mr Hygge Jem buys a hard copy and assume that if all hell breaks out during March, someone will tell me. It’s not my preferred approach to life, which is usually head on and strangle issues, but there are too many problems, too few positive actions available, and too many stresses attacking me at once. One month: four weeks, at most. And I don’t think it’s a bad idea, even if now seems a strange time to do this.
I say March, but of course I may as well start now. From this moment. I’ll watch one nightly bulletin and catch the headlines at another time, but apart from that I’ll turn the TV off, or put it on to watch something with intention. And my favourite political podcasts will have to wait. Instead, I’ll fill my head with the books and podcasts I’ve been meaning to catch up on… Tranquility Du Jour, The Slow Home Podcast and a few more cozy podcasts I’ve missed out on should do… as well as Audible versions of cozy mysteries or my favourite escapist choc-lit.
For those moments when I would usually sit down and unthinkingly turn on the news as background noise, I’ll have a list of could-do activities in my planner instead.
- Read a book. Seriously, turn off the TV and just read instead.
- Craft something. My next crochet blanket has started well, and I could do with getting as much as possible done before summer, when setting it aside and doing a lighter craft is better.
- Listen to music. I was sorting out my DVDs the other day and came across a bunch of cds I must have impulsively bought and never listened to. Bon Iver, for one.
- Play real Solitaire with a real pack of cards. I have the app on my phone, but it has ads that I find interfer with my relaxation.
- Organise a corner. I have a list of homemaking activities divided into whether I can do them in 10 minutes, 30 minutes or an hour. Ticking one of them off would be a better use of time than ticking off myself with anxiety-inducing news.
- Write in my journal or a letter to a friend. I’d love an old-fashioned moroccan leather writing case to store my paper in, but in the absence of that, I’ll make do with a plain paper set with handmade embroidered felt envelope to store them in…. when I make the envelope!
- Give myself a mini-manicure: handcream, file nails and buffer to a shine. I keep these, along with my current magazine read and my bookfax in my comfort basket next to my chair.
And by the end I hope to have stilled a head that is spinning from too much of everything: too much external news, too much internal turmoil, too much to handle. I will retreat, tortoise-like, and let the world rush on. There’s still time enough to step back in to the river if I need to later. And even if I return to my non-stop news addiction, I will always need to build a pause, to reconnect with the immediate now, not the everlasting perhaps.
How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.
I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:
Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better. February is a great time to reset routines and rituals, it simmers with unnamed life underground desperate to burst through. The calm before the Spring Storm, as it were. The book has small and easy ways to make your life flow with grace and happiness, which lead to more hygge.
Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human. And it’s always the little things.
Planning ahead, early, is How to Hygge Your Summer. It has ideas for taking your hygge with you out of winter and to any place you go in the summer… the beach, the park, your holidays. Hygge is an all-year feeling, so start preparing and let’s hygge the heck out of summer this year!
If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading, thinking about and living hygge as well.
The regular photo I’m currently using between text and my book promotions is a photo by Rinck Content Studio on Unsplash. I love the implied cosiness of the photograph: the two hot chocolate cups, the biscuits and squares of chocolate imply a good bit of chatting going on here. Plus I like the colours: red tartan and real wood. What’s not to like? And the header is by Flemming Fuchs on Unsplash. The coffee, the sheets, the newspaper: it’s my news consumption as I hope it will be going forward: unhurried, intentional, and in a manner that creates as much peace as it does anxiety.