The days seem longer and it feels like life is a bit on pause here in Italy because of the coronavirus outbreak… In these situations, staying positive & enjoying the little things is very important.
This is a post I never thought I would make, but over the last couple of weeks, it has come clear to me that it is a much needed one right now. With the current situation, I see myself in the middle of it all and feel the responsibility to help. I live in Monza which is a smaller town right outside of Milan in the Lombardy area of Italy – a region which has been highly affected by this. I have seen it spreading quickly, I have seen the panic and frustration, I have seen my town become locked down and now the whole country… Today everything is closed and events are cancelled, only pharmacies and supermarkets are open, and we are staying at home. It is a weird and surreal situation.
I do not want to scare anyone more than they might already be, but I do want to highlight the seriousness of this situation. I urge everyone, no matter if you live in Italy or or a less affected country, to take precautions. It is important to make sure you do what you can: stay home & follow the health advice given like washing your hands properly! Take care of yourself, help each other and think of the vulnerable or those who might struggle. The more we can help prevent it from spreading, the better it will be for everyone. I truly believe it is better to be safe than sorry, and hopefully, things will get better soon.
In the meantime, I know many of you are either in the same situation as me or might be soon, so I wanted to share a few of my thoughts on how you can make this time as pleasant as possible. Being on lockdown at home means you have a lot of time on your hand, it can feel lonely and scary at times while also a bit boring if you are not prepared. It is now more than ever important to focus on those little daily joys to keep your mood up while staying calm, and I believe that hygge is a big factor in this. As much as it is important to keep physically healthy, our mental health is also very important to take care of in these types of situations. Keep reading to learn ways I have found that hygge has helped us thought it so far.
Tips for how to make the coronavirus lockdown situation better with hygge and a positive mindset:
Get a new hobby
This is a big one for me – and you will understand why in a bit. As soon as we saw that things were escalating here in Italy it was very scary, you end up scrolling the news and social media constantly to see the latest updates which can make you feel even more anxious. We knew quickly that we needed to find something to do, a distraction which would help us get our minds off the situation for a bit and feel calmer. Shifting your focus in these troublesome days is really important, and it is, therefore, the perfect excuse to take up a new hobby or do something you otherwise could not find the time to do. We decided to start building a tiny house – something I can highly recommend! If you follow me on Instagram you might have already seen my stories about it (if not, you can find a highlight over there where I share more). We purchased a pack from Amazon which arrived in 24 hours as well as tweezers, a knife and a cutting board. The pack includes so many tiny details you have to cut out, build, glue and put together… it will take a long time to complete but it is a great distraction and something to look forward to.
^ This is the progress of the tiny house so far, but I will keep documenting it on Instagram for anyone interested – and please share with me if you also end up making one of these houses as I would love to see!
Talking about hobbies, building a tiny house might not be something for everyone, but there are so many other things you can get stuck into. With endless tutorials online, it is a great time to learn something new like knitting or simply get the board games out and play. Doing a puzzle or a colouring-in book are also great mindful activities which will help you feel calm and happy.
Obviously even in a lockdown situation, life goes on and many of us keep working. I work from home so I am used to being a lot inside, and I have been working thought this whole period too. I know not everyone will be able to do their work from home but if you are, it can be a great distraction and a way to keep occupied. And think of the positive; when working from home you can get extra comfy while doing so and make it as hyggelig as possible! Creating a cozy environment around you in this situation is smart, and you might find some help in my post tips for productivity & a calm, inspiring space to work. Get in your cozy clothes, find a blanket if needed, light candles and have a mug of coffee or tea nearby.
Escape inside a book
There is nothing better than to be snuggled up with a blanket and a good book. And since we now have more time, catching up on that long reading list is a great way to spend it. Many of us are too busy in everyday life to take time to read, so now is your chance. If you need tips, you can check out my selection of 9 books to get into the Nordic mood. And while you are at it, a little treat while reading is great (I have already started on the Easter chocolate eggs… Hope I am not the only one?)
Between the pages of a good book is a lovely place to be…
Make everyday routines more fun
Days can feel long when you are stuck inside, and as much as I believe that keeping busy is important, I also see that sticking to a routine and making the little daily everyday tasks fun can help lighten the mood. Right now, there is a lot of talk about washing hands for instance (which I can’t believe people had to learn through a situation like this…) Although it might sound a bit silly to sing a song while you wash your hands, it can sure help make it more enjoyable. A reader told me she has started picking a new song each day for her hand wash to keep spirits high, and recommended a website called Wash Your Lyrics which generates infographics based on your favourite song. So start singing and stay safe!
Listen to podcasts
As much fun singing is, another great way to pass time is to listen to a podcast whether it is educational or simply for joy. There are so many podcasts out there, but since we are talking about hygge I wanted to recommend the Nordic Mum who talks about the Nordic way of life. You can find a list of all her episodes here, and if you haven’t already make sure you listen to episode 79 Loving Scandinavian Life where I was lucky to be a guest.
Improve your culinary skills
This is the time to try new recipes and get creative in the kitchen. Get your cookbooks out and practice improving your culinary skills, I know I need to. It is also a great time to enjoy a meal together, and even do the cooking together to make it a fun activity. I don’t know about you, but for me, baking is very therapeutic and calm. I love following a recipe and taking my time to make something delicious I know I will be able to enjoy afterwards.
Create a hyggelig environment at home
Staying at home means more time to be able to make your home as hygge as possible. Whether it is restyling your home, adding little touches like a new candle or rearranging a shelf to display your favourite home decor, think of this as a possibility to create a cozy environment around you. It is a great time for a DIY project or even do a little spring clean to get our home organised and simplified. Want advise for a hygge style home? Check out this article with tips on how to create a hygge feeling in your own home I wrote for Design Diffusion (which can also be read in Italian for my followers in Italy).
For us, Netflix has been a savour and we have been watching a lot of great shows. This weekend, we are planning to make our bedroom into a little home cinema with a projector to watch some films and get extra comfy. Little plans like this to break up the week and weekend can make this time easier to get through, and trying to structure your days a bit will make a big difference. Since we do not have much space to roam around, taking advantage of each room in your home to get a change of scenery is important.
^ I suggest a virtual fika with friends over social media – want to join me?
This is a bit of a difficult one I know… Here right now, we are not even allowed to leave our town so we are not able to meet anyone. Luckily I have my fiancé here and we can talk together, but for some, it might be a difficult period if you live on own your own. It is therefore important to plan to be social in a bit of a different way than usual. You can, for instance, plan a get-together through Skype and discuss a book you are both reading, do crafts together or simply have a chat over coffee. In addition, I have found that talking to people though Instagram messages have helped. There are so many people in the same situation, and luckily with Internet we are not as far away from each other as it might feel.
If things are like they are here now, it means that gyms and parks are closed, and you are not allowed to leave your nearby area which makes it difficult to go for a run or exercise. We have a dog which means we do go outside for short walks with him, but it is nearly as much activity as I am used to. Staying active inside help, you can, for instance, do pilates or yoga through Youtube tutorials, or follow an aerobics class online. I also recommend walking around your house as much as you can. And why not turn up the music and do a little dance to your favourite tune? Music is after all great mood boost!
As much as we talk about being active, it is also a time to practice self-care and slow living. It is important to make sure you take care of yourself. Think about your body and your mind, and focus on things that make you feel good. Everything from getting enough sleep and eating healthy can help you, but it is also about the little things like doing a facemask or meditating. These things will help you relax and take your mind off the world for a bit.
For me, sleeping has been a bit difficult these past weeks because of the uncertainty of the situation. Your mind can run a bit crazy while checking the latest news and worrying about your loved ones. We have found that having a cup of chamomile tea in the evening before bed has helped us, but I would also say staying away from the news before bedtime is a good idea and instead trying to get your mind on something else by reading a book for instance.
Turn to your furry friend
I know not everyone has a pet in their life, but if you do – this is the time to give them extra cuddles and care. I know in my situation, having my dog Bowie near has helped me feel better and happier in these uncertain times. A dog can make you feel less stressed, something I wrote about in my latest article benefits of having a dog in your life.
Dream of travels
Without sounding like a broken record, this is a time to stay home and help reduce the spread of the virus any further. It means no travel unless it is necessary, and I urge everyone to think twice before doing so. Instead, I recommend dreaming of places you would like to visit once the period is over by reading up on travel blogs, books and guides. If you love Scandinavia for instance, Scan Magazine is a great source of inspiration and you might see my name in there because I work as a journalist covering Norway. Whether it is Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland or Iceland you dream of, you will find great articles about everything from food, design, fashion to art to help you escape reality for a bit. You can find all the issues of the magazine online so there are lots to get stuck into.
I stay at home – and I hope you are too! If you are not working from home right now but can, then talk to your employer and make the suggestion. By staying inside and limiting contact with others, we can help slow down the virus spread and therefore help prevent the situation from getting worse. If fewer people are sick at the same time, the doctors, nurses and care-workers will have a higher chance of tackling this without the hospitals being over-crowded. Take action now and learn from us here in Italy before it gets out of hand.
Lastly, I just want to send lots of love and good thoughts to everyone no matter where in the world you are! I hope you are all well, and if you need more tips or simply someone to talk to, feel free to get in touch in the comment section below or over Instagram messages. This is a time for everyone to come together to help each other through it <3
// Photo credit: Ingrid Opstad