Happy Hoo-gah!

It’s hard to believe in these winter months that England is a top destination for some.  But every winter hundreds of visitors migrate here to look for milder temperatures.  Fieldfares, bramblings and waxwings are just some of the birds that brave the journey from Russia and Scandinavia in search of milder climates.  Starlings can be seen in their murmurations at this time of year too.  They perform a truly spectacular display of togetherness as they twist and dive as one.  They gather in this impressive show to keep warm, and protect themselves from predators.  Have you ever been down to see them on the Somerset Levels – if not, it’s worth us going!

As light turns to darkness and warmth to cold, what can we do to help ourselves and follow nature’s lead towards a more rejuvenating and restful time, particularly this winter?

In Scandinavian countries people focus on nature to enrich their well-being throughout the cold months.  They call this ‘hygge’, pronounced hoo-gah!  It’s said to be a feeling of contentment and is the art of creating a comfortable and cosy atmosphere.  Hygge is a multi-sensory experience that uses the senses to put emphasis on nature.  Candles, spices, oranges wood and leaves are enjoyed in the warmth of homes across the country. But, it’s not just the Danish that are a dab hand at creating cosy spaces.  It turns out Brits were also born to hygge!

Here at the Greenway Centre we’ve been talking with residents about how we can be kind to ourselves and slow down as the days get shorter.  These are a few of the tips we’ve collected: Tina said, “Candles, woolly jumpers, hot soups, and Oxos in boiling water makes a fantastic hot drink” – now there’s one for the shopping list!; Janet said, “Cuddles with the dog and early bed times”; and James said to “knock up a mulled apple juice to stay warm”. 

Hibernation is nature’s survival method, but we can’t hibernate all winter and hygge is the perfect balance between connection and solitude.

Another philosophy that encapsulates the importance of connection is from the Southern nations of Africa and Zimbabwe.  It’s called Ubuntu which translates as ‘a person is a person through other people.’  This phrase states the importance of community, compassion and literally means ‘humanness’.  Ubuntu echoes the power of collaboration and collective consciousness, just like starlings when they take flight with aerial dancing and flawless teamwork. Ubuntu is to care for each other as well as to care for the physical world.  It requires being in nature, listening to yourself, and observing the natural world around you. 

As we draw nearer to the shortest day and the longest night, on 21st December, simple joys like being outside, having a cuppa, or listening to your favourite song seem even more vital in order to slow down and rest up.  Let’s all try to find the time to do the things that are nourishing for us this winter.

I’m part of the Community Development Team here at the Trust with Lucille and Sher, and we’ve been gathering ideas about the kinds of ways we can offer help at Greenway this winter as we all worry  about bills for food and keeping warm.  We offer lots of free activities here and a monthly Super Saturday with the lovely Greenway Market alongside different kinds of support, and things to do – please come along.

Greenway is open from 8:00am until 8:45pm from Monday to Friday, and 9am – 5pm at weekends.  There’s always a space here for residents who need to cosy up because, perhaps, unlike some residents we do know that for this winter at least we can keep the heating on at Greenway. 

If you visit, perhaps bring things to help you hygge like blankets, flasks and books?  We have free hot showers, a book swap stall and a TV.  We are a free drinking water location and during the week our café, Café Des Amis, is open from 8:30am to 2pm serving a winter warmer lunch for £2.50 and cuppas from 50p.  We’re also putting in a hot drinks machine.

Please get in touch if you have any ideas for ways we can stay connected and warm this winter.  Contact the team here on tel: 0117 950 3335 – ask for Rhona, Lucille or Sher. 

Meanwhile we send you festive cheer and look forward to staying connected with you in the New Year.