With lockdown life not quite yet in the can, here are a few small props to encourage ‘hygge’ in your home for the final stretch (here’s hoping). Little extras that have helped me to relax, feel content and comfortable, and expel the trapped feeling I have in my (same old) space as time wears on (and on…).
The need for heroic patience is more important than ever as we enter day 1,485,405,597,999 of lockdown. The focus on ‘wellness’ has never been greater. I heard this morning on Radio 4 it being described as an attempt to recapture a childhood sense of pleasure, which resonates as I wrap up this piece, and my head around ‘hygge’, the latest trend in the wellness zeitgeist. The broadcast also mentioned the wellness industry is worth £3 trillion a year, worldwide. So I’m sceptical about jumping too deep into the art of forging serenity and sentimentality, especially being so late to the game.
This Danish word has become a household one, quite literally, as it focuses on creating an ambient and ‘cozy’ mood in our homes and living space. But you’ll know this already – you haven’t been living under a rock. I have to stop myself cringing at using this should-be-natural practice of encouraging an intimate atmosphere in which to relax. Because I sure as hell need help with it at the moment as I climb the walls of my London flat and grapple with perpetual tiredness and, ironically, sleeplessness. Plus, I venerate Scandi culture in many other areas of my life, channelling the cool-calm of the people and appropriate the deco, art and design. So here I am dipping my toes into the calm waters of hygge living (am I using it right?) using little luxuries and small comforts to get zen and transform my prison into a peaceful haven when my brain is whirring and I most need it.
Becoming comfortable in one’s skin is a life-long journey, but being comfortable in our second skin should not even be a thought. Underwear – it’s a real simple one. Y.O.U produces fairtrade and organic cotton underwear that’s as good for the world as it is for you. Buy one pair and the company gives two pairs of ethically produced undies to Smalls for All, a Scottish charity that collects and distributes underwear to vulnerable women and children across Africa and the UK. So far Y.O.U has donated 15,000 pairs, with an aim of 23,000 by 2023.
But back to hygge. The ultimate comfort comes from what lies right next to our skin, and I can assure you that this cotton is the softest. I have two sets (there are four designs, four colours) and my favourite are the boy shorts, which feel invisible – i.e. are insanely comfortable, but are also wedgie and VPL-free. I also have the soft bralette – non-wired, stretch blend and adjustable – which I’ve ended up living and then sleeping in. These really are the only underwear for lockdown when it’s comfort all the way. You can also rest easy in your cotton undies knowing that they’re made from organic cotton. This means 98% less water and soil pollution, 94% less greenhouse gases, 71% less water usage, 62% less energy, plus insecticide, pesticide, herbicide and GMO free. With news of pesticides being found in unexpected places (from breast milk to clothes) it’s important that the underwear we choose, which touches the most sensitive part of our bodies, is as sound as can be. Ethically produced, Y.O.U works with India’s leading sustainable and ethical manufacturer that ensure that the growers, spinners and makers are paid and treated fairly.
Masters of Mayfair
A good sleep mask and pillow spray is a worthy investment for getting right your sleep hygiene practice; honing in the Z skills. I’ve become slightly reliant on the luxury sleep mask that’s infused with lavender, made from natural fabrics sourced specifically for comfort. Lavender is for me the most intensely relaxing aroma that is also quite sentimental, as it is no doubt many others too – it instantly reminds me of my mother and grandmother.
This is probably the most used of the products I’ve tested to harness the hygge we’re reaching for here. It might be off brand, but I’ve been using it to meditate during the day to create my version of calm and shut down the light sensors whilst elevating the scent senses. Whatever the rules, the outcome is always one of greater peace and deep nostalgia. That fits in with the parameters of hygge, right?
Sleep masks are made using the finest natural fabrics to no ensure irritation is caused to the skin. Bamboo silk lining feels soft, luxurious and lightly cooling and each is infused with British-grown Lavender. Another hack would be the Masters of Mayfair pillow/linen spray that I have used to spritz my yoga mat to elevate the senses during a yoga practice. I chose the mandarin and lime, made using 100% natural essential oils, which is refreshing and uplifting.
And, once this is all over and we take off on exciting travels, the spritz and mask will both be the perfect plane props for blocking out cabin noise and smells for catching some z’s en route to somewhere far flung and tropical. We can dream…
Sleep Welle from Welleco
A very small but oh-so-mighty piece of kit for a hit of hygge. Herbal tea. And, to be clear, not your usual peppermint tea bag that reminds you of afternoons in the office. This one is really special, and very different to any tea bag infusion I’ve used at home to bring about calm and relaxation. Sleep Welle fortified calming tea is from an Australian brand, co-founded by Elle Macpherson. “With the busy world we live in, it can be hard to get a good night’s sleep as often as we need. Always being on the go and multi-tasking can interfere with our sleep.” In steps ‘the super elixir’, infused with hops, Valerian root and skullcap to soothe the mind, induce sweet dreams and even help with anxiety. Ingredients also include lemon balm, passionflower, mango and lemon which adds a beautifully tropical and fruity element to my wintry London home. This might be going too far, but here’s some on how exactly the ancient ingredient Valerian root can, in fact, ease restlessness and promote tranquility:
The plant’s valerenic acid content increases the brain’s supply of gamma-aminobutyric acid, a compound that quietens brain signals and helps you to relax, rather like the way prescription-strength sedatives work. Many of these compounds also inhibit excessive activity in the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes emotional responses to fear and stress. Deep diving into tea and its (legal) ingredients and properties in order to bring about a state of zen is honestly not something I thought I’d find myself doing. Nor selling it this hard. But here we are in unprecedented times and there I go, pushing, in an all-natural, soporific state.
This line of spa products that I’ve wanted to take into my home while spas are shut. The brand is all about natural beauty and inner calm. I’ve tried, tested and have been converted to the bath and bed products made up of plant extracts, marine actives and essential oils. The smells are uniquely beautiful and, crucially for me, not overpowering but gentle and restorative. ESPA has a holistic philosophy centred around caring for your wellbeing, focusing on creating naturally effective skincare products that deliver results you can see and feel. With luxurious textures and sensorial mood enhancing aromatics, they also protect the long term health and beauty of the skin.
A bath oil is a top product for me. The ESPA bath and body dual-action oil is a winner. “This naturally nourishing bath and body oil harnesses the potency of aromatherapy in the new, spirit-lifting ‘Positivity’ blend featuring jasmine, gardenia and rose geranium to provide a burst of happiness. The vibrancy of bergamot and sweet orange serve as a fragrant reminder to count your blessings” – I could do with a dose of this. This oil can be massaged into skin or added to the bath. I’ve discovered that doing both, massaging the oil into my body before getting in the bath, has had the best effect, leaving my skin impossibly smooth and hydrated for days afterwards. For those less into oily textures, the restful bath milk also nourishes the skin and calms the body and mind. Hygge your heart out.
Ava May Aromas
“Fragrance has the power to make a house a home,” says Ava May founder Hannah Chapman. “It creates beautiful memories that we can conjure up long after the moment has passed. Our sense of smell is something we all share and our products allow a whole household to become involved in picking or swapping scents.”
Ava May Aromas produces wax burners and candles using soy wax and scents inspired by popular designer fragrances. One I cannot get enough of is the Lime Basil & Mandarin, inspired by the Jo Malone classic. AMA is a UK-founded family business that uses a vegetable (soy) wax that has green advantages over other types of candle wax (e.g. it’s renewable, biodegradable) and that burns slower than paraffin wax so it’ll last longer. I have the crossover wax burner (a mantlepiece-perfect sculpture in itself) in which I burn a handful of powerful scents, from which there are more than 30 scents to choose on the website. One thing I love is these wax burners give out a much stronger scent than a regular candle. I’m so into the powerful aromas that I’ve actually since ordered more wax melt packs that come in easy blocks of six so that I can use to make candles in my own moulds – an unexpected hobby I’ve picked up during lockdown.
Noted, this is becoming more and more a sleep-centric piece than focussing on ideas of how to add comfort and calm to your pad, but I’m understanding as I adopt these small methods and learn to chill that hygge for me it really is all about sleep. So this last suggestion is a rather luxurious addition that I’m keen to put to the test…
From silk bed linen to eye masks to silk hair bands, this company is set solely on adding in a large dose of luxury to your home life and sensuality to your sleeping experience. Established in London, MayfairSilk promises to elevate sleep with its exclusive range all about pure comfort and health benefits. All with the exquisite material, silk. Beauty experts around the world agree that silk pillowcases (rather than cotton) help keep hair soft, moisturised and free of tangles. Skin will also retain moisture better and you’ll wake up looking younger. Ok, that last bit is me projecting, but I’m all about positive affirmations now I’m deep into hygge and wellness.
But we start small: Eye masks, hand crafted from finest grade Mulberry Silk that are super lightweight and light blocking, come in gorgeous designs and are 100% silk. Silk hair ties are also becoming a thing – designed to eliminate friction and pulling of your hair. Fabric is smooth, thick, durable, rich lustre and matt in finish.
A reminder of the manifesto: Be at one with your surroundings: Find the joy in the simple things. Elevate the intimacy. Indulge in the luxuries of life: Seek harmony: Take a break. And good luck! We’re nearly there…