Hurricanes. Wildfires. Social unrest. All set against the backdrop of a global pandemic. No wonder some people find themselves “catastrophizing,” which is imagining the worst possible outcome and obsessing about it. It’s a national pastime these days, at least in America. In fact, according to a pre-pandemic Gallup poll, Americans were already among the most stressed people in the world.
By contrast, Norwegians are famously laid back. Much has been made of the innate cool and calm of those who live in the Land of the Midnight Sun, where Stressless furniture is still crafted by hand. Norwegians eat lots of fish and love to hike, but perhaps there’s another reason Norway’s average life expectancy is 82.9 years compared to 79.1 years for someone born today in the United States (UN data).
Consider the Norwegian concept of Hygge, which literally translates to “wellbeing.” It’s the art of living simply and enjoying the little things that bring you comfort and joy. Hygge is the Scandinavian equivalent of zen. For Norwegians, it seems to come naturally, but what about the rest of us?
Catastrophic thinking is more apt to take over when you’re sleep deprived and stressed out. Here are three tips to help you find your zen and embrace your inner Hygge in these strange and stressful times:
Splurge on some self-care
Whether it’s a massage or a manicure, a foot soak or a hot steamy bath with lavender salts, you do you. It’s important to make time for yourself and separate your work and home life, despite the likelihood that they’re one and the same, at least for now. Read, journal, listen to your favorite music. Pour a soothing cup of chamomile tea with a Norwegian butter cookie. Carve out a few precious moments each day to honor yourself.
Select stress-reducing colors for your space
Bringing calming colors into your home is a simple way to make it more peaceful and inviting. Blue is often associated with tranquility, making it a great color choice for your walls or furniture. Integrating different shades of gray into your home’s décor is a stylish way to give your room a sophisticated, elegant appeal that also reduces your stress level. Soft, pastel pinks can be cozy and consoling as well. Sheltering at home has given us a greater appreciation for sanctuary and how much our surroundings affect our moods.
Get your om on
To help bring tranquility to your daily routine, consider taking up the practice of restorative yoga. Total relaxation is difficult to come by, but it’s more important than you may realize. Relaxation has been linked to lowering your risk of stroke and depression. Restorative yoga is more accessible and less rigorous than other types of yoga, because you relax more deeply and change poses less frequently. Mat down. Focus on your breath and go with the flow.
Getting enough rest, surrounding yourself with halcyon colors and engaging in stress-relieving activities can help alleviate anxiety and leave you better able to cope with things beyond your control.