For the first lockdown, I was giddy like a high school freshman at the challenge of it all. I read all the medical recommendations, laughed at all the memes in our family chat, and took pride in my activewear outfits for sitting at home.
It was the novelty of it all. Now, if we get locked down again, we’re likely to be like a jaded high school senior. A sigh and roll of the eyes, we know the drill, kind of attitude.
Despite the new norm of feeling worn down by COVID-19 restrictions, another lockdown can still be seen as an opportunity for being more appreciative of the little things and a time to pamper ourselves. Take the chance and do this quarantine a bit differently than the last one, acknowledging there’s always room for improvement.
Whether it’s a new fitness regimen, quality time spent with your family, or experimenting with unique beauty or health routines, it’s all about trying it (again) and perfecting it, just like Bill Murray’s character did in Groundhog Day.
For some inspiration, I interviewed a Wellness specialist and Lifestyle editor at Grupo Planeta about what we should keep in mind if another lockdown hits the fan.
“Being locked down fosters a feeling of insecurity of what’s outside our homes,” says Riomalo, from her office in Madrid. In the Spanish capital, you must wear a mask in public, there’s a curfew between midnight and 6 am, and it’s forbidden to meet in groups larger than six both in homes and public spaces. You risk hefty fines if you don’t comply.
The holidays will be the ultimate test, that perfect storm for another rise in outbreaks when everyone drank and socialized too much and forgot about social distancing measures. As Madrileños and the rest of the world await a possible second lockdown, it’s all about being mentally ready when and if it hits.
That’s why wellness experts like Riomalo advise that you begin preparing your home to be a sanctuary of sorts ahead of time, to avoid rushing in making it a place where you can feel safe in.
Riomalo asked me if I consciously worked at making my house “hygge” during the last quarantine.
“If I worked at what?” I replied.
Pronounced “hue-gah” or “hoo-guh,” she referred to the Danish word that means warmth and wellbeing in Danish. Everyone in design, beauty, or wellness knows this term since it became a fad in 2017. (Where was I?)
Hygge Your Next Quarantine
Scandinavian winters are known to be bleak. Really bleak, like quarantine bleak. Hence the birth of “hygge,” the concept of creating comfortable interior retreats so Danish people could link a rather cold season with a happy place. This Danish noun, she explains, is a concept about feeling at peace and enjoying the simple pleasures in life.
Hygge is a general living concept that focuses on a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people.
Sounds cozy, right?
While there isn’t a literal translation to English, this concept is defined by fuzzy feelings and special little moments full of mindfulness. Like holding a big, hot cup of java in your hand, watching the steam rise as you let your mind wander.
This was the complete opposite of my first quarantine.
What’s the antonym in Danish for hygge? In Spanish, it would be ¿Qué mierda es esto?
As a native New Yorker, I am used to living in cramped quarters. As a journalist, I am used to working in a noisy newsroom. As a mom, I am used to living alongside a marching band’s constant sound made up of one cute 7-year-old. When the first quarantine hit, it was nerve-wracking chaos working from home while homeschooling and doing home chores.
“During quarantine, you have to work, play, and relax in your home. Creating a hygge atmosphere makes you feel like you can do all those things because it puts you in a good mood,” says Riomalo. “It’s all about the right pair of slippers, that special coffee cup, that soothing candle, and soft-textured clothing to wear. It’s not about expensive items either, just the little things in life that will make you happy.”
Take time to appreciate all the senses around you. Most of us only allow ourselves self-indulgence time on the weekends. But you’ll be surprised if you take those extra five minutes to do it daily and see how it will change the course of your entire day.
Here are five areas, based on the five senses, to apply hygge in your life. Remember that it’s all about taking the time to set the tone in advance. Being mindful of all these senses will lead to that feeling of inner peace we all need in these times of que-mierda-es-esto quarantine.
Whether it’s your morning, tea, or coffee, indulge in one of the best quality products. Again it’s not about buying the most expensive, but the one that you appreciate the most. Make it a daily ritual.
Be sure to create a visually pleasing atmosphere, with soft yellow lighting and candles. Avoid white fluorescent lighting; it’s bad for the nerves. Before the lockdown, purchase some everlastings, a particular group of flowers that can be air-dried without losing their color or form. Some purple lavender and yellow statice in a pretty vase will cheer up any sad room during a quarantine. Organization is also key to a feeling of wellbeing — check out some Marie Kondo strategies for keeping things neat.
After you air out your house in the morning, burn some of your favorite scented incense or oils to set a calm mood for productivity. Dried eucalyptus is not only pretty in a vase but releases a clean and woodsy scent. If aromatic odors aren’t your thing, be sure to bake something — that will always leave your house smelling like warmth and safety.
Bring comfort into your quarantine life with warm and comfortable clothing, sheets, and blankets made of soothing textures. It’s all about good quality cotton or fuzzy blankets, pillows, or soft sheets of bliss.
Whether you are blocking out sound or inviting it in, a good pair of earplugs to block out noise and enjoy the silence can be just as important as ear pods for listening to jazz, low-fi sounds, or even mantras.