December 20th 2016
For those of you well on the path to Christmas you may have noticed that books about ‘Hygge’ (pronounced hue – gah) the Danish word for a feeling that most of us know but find hard to define, have been ‘the thing’ this year. If you work in a care home its still worth putting them on your Xmas wish list to Santa, or spending your Christmas present book vouchers on as they have many hints and tips applicable to boosting well-being for those living in care homes. And they will be thought provoking about the meaning of home, chores and the mundane in your own life too.
Hygge is variously defined as a quality of presence, an experience of togetherness and it’s a feeling of being warm safe comforted and sheltered. It’s about feelings of relatedness and contentment, that the self and belonging to the moment matters – and that these things are worth our regular attention in every day life.
The Danes as a nation score very highly for national well-being and so a book on Hygge will likely give you plenty of ideas of how to create inclusion and comfort for individuals and for groups of people. At its heart Hygge is usually about savouring a very simple sensual experience of ordinary life, often shared with others, and where something is enjoyed for the comfort and/or connection it brings.
The winter season abounds with such opportunities. Real fires and candlelight feature very strongly for Danes throughout the long months winter and although these are usually not do-able things in nursing homes there are plenty of other simple offers where Hygge moments can be created and shared e.g. a warming hot chocolate served in a favourite mug and in a peaceful corner, a special cosy blanket, a plate of mince pies specially presented in subdued lighting to share with a friend or in a small group, perhaps with a glass of sherry.
Combining these small ideas with another aspect of Hygge which is to enjoy contrasts, like hot and cold, dark and light means that small chunks of time can be quickly upgraded from mundane to special. None of this is rocket science but the important rule of Hygge is that people are mindful about creating enjoying simple moments together and everyone in the group works hard to have others be accepted, included and supported to be themselves. And that a ‘comforting home’ is an act of creation wherever you are.
Seasons greetings one and all!
Jude Sweeting, Director of Quality & Enjoyment