‘Tis the season of full fireplaces, burning candles, cashmere blankets, and peak coziness.
What is peak coziness, you ask? Peak Coziness™ is a state of being made possible only when the temperatures drop. It’s drinking the perfect cup of hot chocolate on a rainy day. It’s reading a good book under a warm blanket. It’s dozing off on a Sunday afternoon while your favorite candle burns. Peak Coziness™ isn’t a trend; it’s a lifestyle, and in our never-ending quest to achieve it, it’s best to call in the professionals.
ELLE.com chatted with Jessica Payne, an associate professor at the University of Notre Dame who specializes in how sleep and stress influence human memory and psychological function, and Pia Edberg, Hygge expert and author of The Cozy Life: Rediscover the Joy of the Simple Things through the Danish Concept of Hygge. (Hygge is the Danish and Norwegian word for a mood of coziness and contentment.) Below you’ll find the steps to take to start living your coziest life.
It’s all about textures
“You’ll want blankets, chair, and pillows to feel soft against your skin,” explains Edberg.
“Choose textiles that make you want to curl up in them that both look and feel cozy.” This also goes for what you wear. Cozy in the winter might be a oversized sweater or slippers that you have had forever. “If you live somewhere cold, definitely bundling up in your warmest coat with a hat, scarf and gloves will make you feel hygge,” says Edberg.
Professor Payne also suggests trying a weighted blanket for personal use. While the science around weighted blankets effects is preliminary, she’s been “very impressed” by what she’s seen so far.
Dim the Lights
Edberg suggests low and dim lighting that is yellow or warm in color to relax your eyes. You can also light a few candles or hang a few fairy lights to build out the mood and the decor. According to Professor Payne, the number one thing you can do is avoid screens. “Even if you don’t fall asleep, any kind of offline break for the brain is beneficial,” says Payne. “The last thing you want people to do is lay there stressing out and scrolling through their phones.”
Set the Mood
Bring the outdoors in! “We naturally feel calm when we are surrounded by nature, so bring in lots of plants to help you relax, and some crystals, wood or stone elements,” says Edberg. Maybe a floor plant (in a cute pot!) is just what your cozy journey needs.
Create a space that feels like you by adding personal style elements that make you happy. “Elements that can make your space feel like you include photos of family and friends,” says Edberg. You can add things like your own paintings or items you picked up on vacation to create an atmosphere that’s unique to you.
Nap in The Afternoon
Studies have shown that naps are restorative to the body and brain, but the benefits only work at certain ideal times. “It’s really, really important to nap in the afternoon,” says Payne. “If you nap too late in the day, then that actually can reduce the sleep pressure that you need in order to have a good night of sleep.” Long story short: nodding off in front of the TV at 7:00 pm doesn’t cut it.
Find a Routine
Professor Payne also stresses the necessity of a routine. “It’s important that people try to build sort of a routine so that they’re napping at approximately the same time and ideally in the same place every day so the brain will learn the association of relaxation.” Beyond timing, you can also teach your brain to associate a certain blanket or lavender spray oil with napping and relaxation, which will promote the feeling of cozy and make resting that much easier.
Decide If a Cozy Partner Is Worth It
Our desire to cuddle and sleep next to others stems from our ancestor’s sleeping habits— sleeping in groups provided warmth and safety, explains Payne. That’s not such a necessity anymore and while some people rest better with their partner or their dog or cat, others struggle with space and noise grievances. In creating the ideal cozy environment, you might have to ditch the pup.
Coziness Takes Many Shapes and Forms
One version of coziness is all about blankets and candles, but another version can be a dance party at home with family and friends. “One of the biggest things we can do, especially with the digital age distracting us, is deliberately creating connection and time with our loved ones we haven’t spent time with in a long time,” says Edberg. “Go and do something cozy together, something intimate and not too overstimulating like grabbing a hot chocolate in a cozy coffee shop and having a good catch-up conversation.”