In northern European countries, where the winters are long and cold and fighting against the winter blues is a real priority, each language has a word for a feeling of cozy, comfy, casual, homey pleasantness. In German, the word is gemütlichkeit, in Danish it is hyggeligt and in Swedish it is mysiga. There is really no word like it in the English language. But, just because we don’t have the word, doesn’t mean we don’t want that for ourselves.
February has the fewest day of any other month of the year but it can feel like the longest, darkest coldest month of the year. Psychologists have drawn a direct correlation between the dark months of winter and depression. This is called SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
“The usual criteria for diagnosing SAD are when [people] meet the criteria for clinical depression during winter for several years running and recover in the summer,” according to Jenny Scott-Thompson from the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association (SADA) in the U.K.
Even if you don’t have the clinical disorder, everyone can get a little down during this time. This February, make an effort to create gemütlicheit in your home and stave off the winter blues.
Here is a week by week guide for February this year to make your home the place you want to spend all your time.
Week 1 - Take stock of the amount of light in your house. Are there dark corners or is it dark in general? Lighting up your house can lighten up your mood and outlook on life. Throw open your curtains and draw open the blinds. Move anything that might block natural sunlight from coming into your home. Natural sunlight is the best treatment for SAD.
Add lighting like table lamps as they add a warm golden light without glare. Choose warm tone light bulbs and if you get fluorescent bulbs, choose bulbs with a quick warm-up time so that they reach their maximum light output quickly.
Create a lighting accent with twinkle lights. Lighting isn’t just for tasks. Adding a little glow or sparkle can work wonders to elevate your mood.
Week 2- Take Stock of you Stuff. Look objectively at what you have in your house and look at your house. Is there really enough room for all of your stuff. Does your house look the way you want it to, or is it looking over-stuffed?
Although U.S. consumers bear only 3% of the world’s children, we buy 40% of the world’s toys and many of us have more possessions than we can fit comfortably in our homes. This can be a problem more for some family member than for others. Researchers at UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families (CELF) have discovered that clutter can cause depression and anxiety, especially in women. (Read this related article from an earlier post.)
It’s time to clear out the clutter. Make piles of the stuff you want out of your house; To give away, to throw away, to recycle. Box or bag them up and deliver them to their appointed destinations right away. Don’t let them linger in your house. That’s a simple statement but it isn’t always so easy to do as to say. If you have trouble letting go, explore the possible reasons why in some of our previous posts. See “Related Articles” below.
Week 3 - Take some time this week to think about what you are going to do in your garden this spring. This will help ease the long wait until the sun returns and the little bright green leaves start to pop out. Check out this great gardening "to do" list for February on our website, written by the Albuquerque Master Gardeners!
Week 4 - Have your family or friends over for a mid-winter celebration. Light up your house with candles and your new table lamps. Bring in some flowers and warmth of those you love. Enjoying your gemütlichkeit with Family and friends is the best medicine for the winter blues!