• Mandy Mason

Happy New Year

Actually strike that. Instead I wish you all a much more achievable 'content' 2019. What even is 'happy'?! Personally, I think that if we can describe ourselves as content, the majority of the time, then we're pretty lucky. 'Happy' comes and goes, but contentment, if we work at it, can be a fairly constant companion, allowing for the inevitable bumps in the road of life.

My son's fantastic local primary school is starting off the new term by having a hygge week. The children are taking blankets and their favourite books to school for the week, and will snuggle down on mats and enjoy some relaxation. I think that's a wonderful idea for 2 reasons; it gives the children a nice easy 'in' to the new term, and also teaches them the very important life skill of how to be kind to themselves and take some time out every now and then to just stop and relax.

You can hardly fail to have come across this word 'hygge' at some time over the last couple of years. It seems to have featured in so many newspapers and magazines. It is based on the Danish concept of doing things for yourself to give you feelings of warmth, comfort and coziness, which bring about a sense of well being and contentment. I wonder as a nation how good us Brits are at taking that time out for ourselves, just to do something simple that makes us feel nice? Don't so many of us often feel guilty if we simply sit down to enjoy a hot cup of tea when there is always something to be done?

A very recent study showed taking a regular warm bath can be more effective than exercise at alleviating the symptoms of depression. For me a warm bath is great hygge, especially if taken in the morning or the afternoon. I noticed recently a good friend had an enormous jigsaw out on her kitchen table. I remembered then how much I enjoyed doing jigsaws as a child, and admired her for taking time for herself to sit and do that, even if only for a few minutes each day.

I don't normally make new year resolutions. I generally feel that if something is important enough to do you will do it whether or not it is the start of a new year. However, I also think a little bit of focus can sometimes be a good thing, so this year I made two. The first was to start this blog (so well done me, I finally have it up and running!), and the second is to be sure that I regularly do something hygge for me throughout 2019.

At the risk of sounding corny, I do believe that kindness starts with ourselves, and that while most of us can always find our inner critic easily enough, how often do we tune into our own best friend, and show ourselves the same kindness we show to friends without hesitation?

So this year, I vow to be kinder to myself, and to, without guilt, rest when I am tired, curl up on the sofa with a blanket and a movie on my own if I feel like it, or take some time to go for a walk in the woods, my favourite place to walk. Whatever it is that will make me feel cozy and peaceful. I recently discovered the fantastic app, calm.com, which followers of my facebook page will have seen me raving about. Taking just 10 minutes a day to do one of the guided meditations gives me a wonderful feeling of hygge.

Whatever your hygge is, whether having a warm bath, a massage, or starting to actively tackle that behavioural or emotional thing that has been niggling at you, I hope you will take some time for yourself regularly this year. I'm fairly confident you will feel better for it.

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