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Life

10 ways to feel cozy, happy, relaxed, and entertained… that don’t involve food.

This winter, I read a delightful book called The Year of Living Danishly

It’s a book about the nation of Denmark (note to self: MUST VISIT), and why its citizens are some of the happiest people on earth. 

Reading this book, I learned a new Danish word: Hygge. It’s pronounced “Hoo-gah,” and it basically means: “Beautiful, happy, cozy-time at home.” 

A warm, flickering fireplace—that’s Hygge. Pajamas that have been warmed in the dryer—Hygge. A beautiful teacup with your favorite loose leaf tea and fancy honey—Hygge. 

Danes really care about Hygge. They care about making ordinary, everyday moments feel special and pleasurable, and they care about “the details” of life: textures, lighting, fragrances, style, decor, and cozy nooks and crannies. 

They fill their lives with all kinds of yumminess. Not *just* food-related yumminess, but a wide variety of experiences. This is a big part of the reason why they’re so happy, unstressed, and healthy. (Interesting factoid: 13% of Danes fall into the “obese” weight range. In America, that number is almost 36%.)

Personally, I’m feeling inspired to bring even more Hygge into my daily life. My life is already pretty Hygge-tastic these days, but there’s always room for a little more pleasure and coziness, even during these brutally cold winter months!

To give you some Hygge #Inspo, here’s a list of 10 ways to feel cozy, happy, relaxed, and entertained… that don’t involve food.

Here in North America, of course, food is typically the go-to choice whenever we want to feel good, or whenever we’re stressed or bored, or whenever we want to celebrate, or… you know, whenever we want to feel ANY type of feeling! LOL. But it’s not particularly healthy to snack when you’re not actually hungry (#Duh), so I want to give you some non-food-related alternatives. 

I hope this list inspires you to Hygge-fy your home from top to bottom. Your stress levels will drop, and your body will say “thank you” for all the extra love.

1. Create a cozy “inspiration corner” with your favorite chair, a nice table, and a couple of items that inspire you—like books, fresh flowers, and maybe a journal to record your ideas. Here is my corner:

Extra credit: situate your special corner near a fireplace, a pretty wall, or even better, a window with a view.

2. Invest in (at least) one nice, super-soft, snuggly throw blanket for your couch or favorite chair. You’ll feel very “regal” draped in all that luscious fabric. 

3. Make a homemade body scrub with a handful of sea salt, a handful of brown sugar, and a spoonful of coconut oil—enough to form a spreadable paste. Scrub it all over your body and then rinse it off in the bathtub or shower. Your skin will be super-soft!

4. Find a soothing, chilled-out music playlist on Spotify, or invest in an old-school record player. Can you imagine listening to Ella Fitzgerald on vinyl on a cozy wintery night? Hygge to the max. 

5. Candles, people. Candles. I love my candles from Zena Moon.

6. Get some earplugs or noise cancellation headphones, especially if you live in a noisy neighborhood. Did you know that hearing a loud, sudden noise—like a car alarm, or a siren—can spike your body’s production of cortisol (the “stress hormone”) for up to 90 minutes afterward? Sometimes, you just need to tune out the craziness.

7. Declutter your kitchen, especially your cups, plates, and cutlery. Chipped, stained coffee mugs? Boy, bye. Plastic sporks and soy sauce packets from last year’s take-out? Nuh-uh. Create a kitchen environment that’s warm and inviting instead of dingy and stressful.

8. At least once a month, do something that makes you feel generous and heart-melty. Write “thank you” notes to a couple of recent clients. Surprise your hardworking Amazon delivery truck driver with a crisp $20 bill. Or spend an hour mentoring your friend’s teenager daughter, help her to revamp her résumé, and land her first job. It’s scientifically proven that gratitude and generosity give you a brighter outlook on life—and might even help you to live longer.

9. Declutter your closet. I make my BARE peeps use the Marie Kondo approach. You can EVEN then arrange your clothes in order of color. (Confession: this part sounds kinda boring to me, but my friend Alex insists it’s better than Xanax. LOL.)

10. Throw yourself a birthday party, even if it’s not your actual birthday! What would you wear on your birthday? What would you do on your birthday? Enjoy a day of self-pampering and luxury. Even very little things—like wearing your “best” panties, or using a spritz of your “fancy” perfume—can bring that happy Hygge feeling into your day.

When I’m working with clients who want to de-stress, feel happier—and lose some weight in the process—I always encourage them to bring more “pleasure” into their day. Again, not *just* food-related pleasure, but all different types of pleasure. Aesthetic pleasure. Literary pleasure. Musical pleasure. Environmental pleasure. Ahem, sensual/sexual pleasure. 

I’m telling you: Pleasure changes lives. If you want to lose weight, you don’t need more “willpower”—you need more pleasure. Saturate yourself with pleasure, and that annoying compulsion to overeat will eventually just… go away.

One of my clients switched from paper napkins to pretty, monogrammed linen napkins. Every time she used her linen napkins, she felt inspired to pause, breathe, and say to herself, “I deserve nice experiences. I’m allowed to feel happy.” This little 5-second “breather” allowed her to slow down, savor her food, and stop eating before she felt too stuffed. Over the course of several months, she lost 30 pounds, and it all started with… a simple linen napkin from an Etsy shop that cost about $3. 

That’s the transformative power of pleasure. 

Bring more Danish cozy-love and pleasure into your day—and watch what happens. 

PS. Want to transform your body, create a happier relationship with food, and feel brave and unstoppable? Get on the waiting list for my next BARE program

PPS. Want to dive into the BARE philosophy, learn how to use it with your own clients, and become a BARE certified coach—so you can get paid to help women stop dieting and start loving their bods? Sign up for THIS. The next certification program starts soon, and I room for 3 more coaches to join the group. I’d love to have you! 

PPPS. Want even MORE inspo? Here is a list of 18 additional ways to “treat yo’self”—that do not involve food. Yo’ welcome.