January can be a bleak month. If your enthusiasm for New Year’s resolutions fades all too quickly in the cold light of New Year’s Day hangovers, post-holiday letdown and a looming stretch of winter gloom, you’re not alone. For newsrooms, it’s often a slow time and it can be easy to lose motivation.
Personally, I love January because, well, it’s my birthday month. It’s also often when we get the first real snow of winter. I love to savor the snapping, fresh cold air and cozy up near a window to watch the twinkling flakes fall.
I didn’t know it until recently, but that feeling – taking pleasure in the little things, even in a season of darkness – is something of an art form in Denmark.
The Danes face some of the darkest, colder winter months of anywhere on earth but cultivate happiness all year through hygge.
Hygge (HOO-gah) is a Danish concept roughly translated to a state of relaxed, homey coziness. It’s been popularized in the United States in the last several years, often in marketing of candles and fuzzy blankets.
Danes like Meik Wiking, head of the Happiness Research Institute and author of The Little Book of Hygge, say that hygge can’t be bought. It’s a state of mind, a feeling, an attitude: “Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down,” Wiking writes.
That said, you can combat winter blues and nurture an atmosphere of hygge through your surroundings, including in the newsroom.
“Live life today like there is no coffee tomorrow.” ― Meik Wiking,
Lighting – Combat harsh, florescent overhead lighting with warm desk lamps.
Comfortable seating – I bought an inexpensive cushion to help make my ancient office chair a little more cozy.
Plants – Bamboo or succulents are good low-care options to add some green life to your space.
Slippers/sweaters – Newsrooms are notoriously cold, but no one will know if you keep a pair of fuzzy slippers under your desk! I also have a favorite sweater and pair of my mom’s knitted fingerless gloves that live at my desk.
Hot drinks – Get an instant dose of home, comfort and warmth with a hot drink. The act of making tea can help ground you in the moment and cocoa can be a sweet reminder of childhood.
Personalize – Think about what else makes a space feel like home to you. Pictures of family, a favorite pen or mug, or (for me) a pink lava lamp.
Gatherings – One of the more overlooked aspects of hygge (at least in the U.S. version) is the social component, but it’s an important part of wellbeing. In news, you’re usually either working alone, head down, or with others in a focused scramble. But how often do you stop to just sit and enjoy your colleagues’ company? Even in a busy newsroom, it’s worth a moment at a morning meeting or post-show wrap to relax together.
I hope some of these ideas can help you cozy up your space, and have a hyggelig January!