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New research reveals that cold weather is causing a significant drop in Aussies' moods as temperatures fall— so here's how to beat the winter blues.

A survey from meal kit delivery company HelloFresh shows that more than half of the nation (53%) is experiencing ‘winter woes’, impacting comfort levels, motivation, and eating habits.

With 41% of Australians associating the seasonal shift with sadness and loneliness, the data has also highlighted the biggest barriers to achieving comfort and satisfaction in winter as a lack of sunlight (61%), cold homes and poor heating (53%) and our inability to spend time outside (50%).

According to Positive Psychologist and Founder of the Happiness Institute, Dr Tim Sharp, Aussies should consider looking to the icy isles of Scandinavia for inspiration this winter by adopting the Danish concept of Hygge (pronounced ‘Hyoo-guh’).

“As an outdoorsy nation, our transition from autumn to winter can be particularly tough as we grapple with the reality of spending more time indoors.," Dr Sharp said.

"What we see as a result is an increase in those feelings of sadness, loneliness and frustration, as reflected in HelloFresh’s research.

“Hygge encourages us to reframe how we feel about our time indoors and the winter months by finding comfort in the discomfort and embracing cosiness to boost our moods and make the cooler months more bearable.

“Fortunately, simple adjustments to our environment and habits can help us traverse those barriers to the comfort we all feel.

"This can be as simple as creating cosy and inviting spaces in our homes with warm tones and soft textures to promote relaxation.

"Our choices in food can also have a great impact. Preparing hearty winter-warmer meals such as soups, stews and roasts like those available from HelloFresh, can assist with satiation, reduce irritability and warm us from the inside out.”

To help Aussies find joy as the mercury drops, here are Dr Sharp's five simple ways Aussies can bring this touch of Scandinavia into their homes.

1. Atmosphere is everything

For a nation whose winters often drop to -2 degrees Celsius with only a few hours of sunlight per day, Danes are experts in creating warm, cosy environments. Fostering the perfect comforting atmosphere is key to bringing Hygge into the home, as our sensory experience directly correlates to our moods. 

Consider introducing warmed-tone lights, candles and soft textures to evoke feelings of warmth and relaxation. Small additions like blankets, throws, and pillows are also easy additions that help cultivate a comforting environment. 

On the other hand, cold, dark environments promote loneliness and fatigue—feelings we want to avoid.

Temperature is also key. Extreme cold can make us feel sluggish and unmotivated. The research reveals that cold homes and poor heating are among the biggest barriers to comfort in Australian households.

Warm up with heaters or, better yet, a fireplace for the ultimate Hygge experience.

2. The mind-gut connection

Our food choices can both positively and negatively impact our moods. A satiating meal can increase our calmness and reduce irritability, but it can also impact our quality of sleep and our energy levels during the day. Meanwhile, an unsatiating meal will have the opposite effect.

Foods also have an amazing ability to warm us from the inside out, which is something we need more of in colder temperatures. 

Hearty, winter-warmer meals rich in seasonal flavours, like homestyle lasagnas or mushroom risottos, are great options for bringing Hygge-like comfort and joy to your stomach and tables.

candles being lit

3. Embrace quality time

As we spend more time indoors during winter, our socialisation levels are also impacted. Without quality time with our friends and family, we can develop feelings of isolation and loneliness. In fact, Aussies are more likely to associate winter with sadness and loneliness than any other emotion.

To navigate this, we need to make a conscious effort to surround ourselves with loved ones by creating space for get-togethers within our homes.

Whether it’s curling up on the couch together over a cup of tea and a movie or even a board game night with mates, this interpersonal connection is at the heart of Hygge and is essential to achieving the feeling of contentment.

Interpersonal time also promotes the creation of feel-good chemicals like dopamine, while preventing stress hormones such as cortisol. 

4. Elevate your dining experience

For families, couples, and even roommates, there’s a daily occurrence we can all use to elevate our feelings of comfort and connection: dinner time.

While Hygge doesn’t call for fine dining, it’s about simple pleasures and connection over good food. 

Through tactics like styling your dining room with tablecloths, seasonal flowers and mood lighting, we can make dinner a nightly event for us to regroup and reconnect over a delicious meal.

The dinner table should be treated as the hub of the home, a central place where we gather and enjoy each other’s company.

5. Bring nature indoors

Thanks to our beautiful beaches, tropical rainforests and vast bushland, Australia has built a reputation as an outdoorsy nation that loves to spend time in nature. But during winter when our time outdoors is restricted, our moods can be adversely affected.

To combat this, we need to reframe how we feel about our time indoors. 

A simple way to achieve this is by bringing nature into the home. By adding flowers and greenery into your space, we can promote a sense of calmness and tranquillity while satisfying the time in nature that we crave.

As an added benefit, plants also naturally purify the air for a healthier and happier environment.



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