With the festive party season in full swing, investing in me-time is more important than ever to protect mental health and overall well-being.
The weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year can become a whirlwind of planning, preparation and partying, however, slowing down and reconnecting is vital for both mental and physical well-being during this busy period.
I like to live by the ‘lagom’ ideology. Lagom is a Swedish term describing ‘just the right amount’ or ‘not too little and not too much’ and denotes a mindful approach to all areas of life, focusing on moderation, balance, sustainability and frugality.
Being pushed to overconsume and to fill our diaries with appointments and events, with ‘busyness’ being a sign of our worth, seems to have become a standard part of modern life to the point where often, our schedules allow for next to no downtime, leaving us feeling stressed and exhausted.
Life is busy enough without feeling the need to invite in more chaos, so by streamlining our lives and investing in some daily rituals to allow for moments of rest and relaxation, we can enjoy a more fulfilling and restorative festive season.
Read on for my guide to living simply…
Get cosy with ‘mys’
In Sweden, ‘mys’ denotes the warm, fuzzy feeling derived from being indoors, in front of a roaring fire, preferably with a glass of wine, a coffee or a hot chocolate, while the weather rages outside. Mys is about taking time to slow down, relax, enjoy good company, and eat delicious food. It means comfort, cosiness and relaxation, and taking time out from a stressful outside world to recalibrate.
Some classic Scandinavian-style tips to help Brits achieve mys include snuggling in warm throws on the sofa, lighting candles, enjoying a warming drink or hot bubble bath and wearing soft, cosy layers. These small pleasures are often what we truly crave in the colder months, so feel free to say no to the tenth drinks invite this week and relish the joy of missing out by heading home instead.
Friends are welcome
In Sweden, mys cosiness involves carving out time weekly to spend quality downtime with friends or family. Fredagsmys translates as ‘cosy Fridays’. It is a ritual in Sweden to earmark Friday evenings as a time of cosy relaxation with loved ones, complete with a feast of uncomplicated comfort food.
It’s a simple idea; in modern life, we work hard all week and want to fully relax at the end. And in the midst of all the glitz of festive parties, downtime at home is what many of us truly crave. So, embrace fredagsmys as the time of the week to indulge and enjoy the moment, to order from your favourite pizza place, open a bottle of wine and curl up on the couch. It can be enjoyed with family and friends, but also as a solo endeavour – the main thing is to disconnect and unwind.
Connecting with our bodies and feeling gratitude for all that they do for us – something that we often take for granted – is the perfect way to boost well-being.
Physical activity has huge potential to enhance well-being and it doesn’t need to be a high-impact fitness routine that leaves you aching for days. Wrap up warm and enjoy a brisk walk in the fresh air or do an invigorating yoga workout. Just 10 minutes of exercise can increase mental alertness, and energy and boost mood.
We should all incorporate more movement into our every day – first thing each morning is the perfect way to start your day on a positive note but whether you choose a gentle stroll, some light stretches whilst the kettle boils or a dance party with your kids is up to you.
In between all the big parties and feasts, enjoying simple seasonal food is the ideal way to nourish your body and soul.
Whilst it’s understandable to find yourself reaching for the biscuits, cake or chocolate as a comforting, energy-boosting snack, these will only serve you in the moment as they offer little in the way of nutrients. Whilst they’re perfect treats, daily staples should consist of fresh, nutrient-dense seasonal foods to keep your energy levels up and your immune system in tip-top shape.
Apples, beetroot, brussels sprouts, carrots, celery, cranberries, kale, leeks, mushrooms, parsnips, pears, potatoes, red cabbage, watercress and turnips are all delicious and currently in season in the UK.
For seasonal snacking, enjoy a chopped apple with nut butter, homemade kale crisps, sliced pear and blue cheese, or make your own trail mix with dried cranberries, raisins, nuts and dark chocolate chips.
Come mealtimes, opt for hearty warming soups and stews – simple to make but delicious and packed with goodness.
Living more simply begins with ensuring you’re present in the here and now – and that begins with switching off the tech.
Staring at a screen not only leads to hours wasted on doom-scrolling and unfavourably comparing your life and achievements with others, but it also negatively impacts your sleep.
We’re often tempted to ‘have a quick look’ at social media before bed, but the blue light interrupts your body’s normal sleep hormone production and circadian rhythm, making it harder to fall asleep and leaving you feeling groggy and irritable the next day. Proper rest and recuperation are none more important than during winter.
Start by committing to spend one-hour tech-free a day. Instead, you could do something creative, like painting, colouring or drawing, enjoying a stroll in the park, gardening, baking, writing postcards or letters to send to loved ones, or simply enjoying a cup of tea and a good book. Why not just spend a tech-free hour enjoying a long hot soak in the bath…? Before long you’ll find this tech-free time spent re-connecting with yourself an invaluable part of your daily routine.