Comfort Season: Our Top 5 Tips to Cuddle Up To
National Cuddle Up Day is upon us January 6th!
The event points our attention to celebrating the healthy benefits of physical touch - increasing our trust with our cuddler and helping to reduce our stress levels and blood pressure. During the coldest month of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere), cuddling of any kind can bring extra comfort in a time where we may feel more isolated than other times of the year.
We can cuddle up to some fluffy new pillows or a trendy large cable knit blanket. Perhaps we should embrace the Danish concept of hygge? Never underestimate the soothing acts of lighting a soft-smelling candle or making a hearty soup. These are all inspiring and delicious ways to up your comfort this time of year - or year round!
Whether you have a special person to snuggle up to, a favourite pet, a group of open-armed pals or you just want to make your home more cuddle friendly, today we’re going to look at our Top 5 Tips to help you embrace the feeling and benefits of cuddles.
Get Hygge With It
This word is everywhere, but what does it really mean? (Also, the proper pronunciation of hygge is ‘hoo-gah.’) Roughly translated, it means, ‘coziness,’ but any Dane will tell you it means much more than that. Hygge is about creating a warm atmosphere and embracing togetherness with good people - really - just finding simple joy in the good things life brings to us.
Need more specific info? Check out Hygge 101 straight from the visitdenmark.com website. They even have a test to find out just how hygge you are! Danish people are among the happiest in the world, so it looks like they’re onto something. Sounds pretty good, right? They can find hygge in everyday things, from bikes to cafes, from clothes to furniture. Candles are an important element for those who practice hygge (more on this below) as well.
To get ‘hygge with it,’ look to your home and lifestyle - where could you cozify your world?
While bumping up your thermostat will heat your house, it won’t necessarily help you feel cozier. Why not pile on the blankets and crawl back into bed? Some people find immense comfort and get more sleep by using weighted blankets. The extra weight acts as something of an all-night hug and can help us relax while keeping us warm. Reading a book with a hot cup of cocoa or comforting chamomile tea while snuggled into your fave chair or bed sounds pretty darned comfy, no?
Get Some Hugs
Hugs can come from many people - friends, family, co-workers, pets - and they can help to lower stress levels, build relationships and even boost heart health. The hormone oxytocin plays a leading role in this area - sometimes called the cuddle hormone. This is probably because our bodies release it when we get close to others, whether through social bonding or actual hugging, touching or sitting together.
This study of healthy adults found that those who received touch or affection showed lower levels of stress when faced with an intimidating situation than those who did not. Split into two groups, one group spent 10 minutes holding hands and watching a romantic video, followed by a 20-second hug. The other group spent the same amount of time just sitting quietly. After the hand holding/not hand holding, the entire group was told they had to speak publicly (hello stress). The folks who had the prestress contact showed lower heart rates and blood pressure than those who did not.
No humans on your hug radar? Snuggle up to your pet - or someone else’s. Pets have been found to reduce stress hormone cortisol levels, can lower your blood pressure and help you relax. While some studies claim a 20-second hug will give the most oxytocin benefit, this may be overwhelming for your pet - gauge based on how well you know them! A Newfoundland may love the long cuddles, while a Jack Russell may not have the patience. Look into therapy dogs as well - many groups are happy for their volunteers to visit workplaces, hospitals and schools.
If you have an absence of people to cuddle, look to a service like Cuddle Up to Me, who offers ‘fully clothed, completely platonic cuddle sessions of 15 minutes to 5 hours.’ Founder Samantha Hess founded this business after leaving a marriage where she felt a distinct lack of touch that was making her feel isolated and rejected. Her service aims to help others like her who find their own self-worth and ability to thrive through the healing power of touch.
Stock Up on Cozy Fabrics & Decor
How about self-cuddling?
Carefully planning your environment can help you relax and fuel your desire to cuddle up with a good book - or blanket. Sherpa fabric is in and you’re going to want to bring some into the house! From cozy robes to blankets, from socks to rocking chairs, this polyester product is a great choice for added comfort. Sherpa mimics shearling, which is a fabric made from the shorn coat of a young sheep. Sherpa tends to be much less expensive and it’s certainly available all over the place.
Cable knit is not just for socks and sweaters anymore. Knitting is back and people are looking to bigger and better when it comes to coziness. Look into the trendy chunky cable knit blankets taking bedrooms and couches by storm! Jersey bed sheets or pajamas are a great bet and fuzzy slippers and heated blankets are great additions to your bedroom or favorite cozy spot. Fleece is always a good choice - readily available and affordable - try pants or hoodies for maximum cuddle-ability. Down can be expensive, but when it comes to insulating you in warmth, it’s the king of comforters.
Scented Candles Make Everything Cozier
Candles are one of the keys to Danish hygge and we know the power of scent can change our moods and bring us back to happier times and feelings. Not only do they create a wonderful, flattering glow when lit, they can instill a real sense of calm in us as well. Watching a candle’s flame can even help us reach a meditative state (watch one for a few minutes while breathing deeply).
Using aromatherapy candles pulls double duty by releasing soft and relaxing smells like vanilla bean, lavender, and jasmine while softening the environment around us. Our sense of smell is very closely tied to our memories, so there may be another scent that would work better for you, transporting you back to a special moment in time. Fresh baking is another scent that many of us find comforting, reminding us of happy times devouring baked goods or getting hugs and just-out-of-the-oven cookies from our grandmas.
Flex Your Baking Muscles
You can’t hug soup, but doesn’t spooning a hearty, warm mouthful make it feel like its hugging you?
Maybe it’s got something to do with all those times we were sick and someone who loved us brought a delicious bowl to nourish us back to health. Soup is a major comfort food as is - and even more so when served in the dregs of winter.
If one of the main benefits of physically cuddling with someone is stress relief and comfort, food can certainly contribute in that category. This study found that people who took on small creative projects every day felt happier and more relaxed, even that they were flourishing in their lives. Baking and cooking demands a certain amount of attention and stimulates all of your senses at the same time. Giving yourself to the process can have a meditative and therapeutic effect. Don’t forget that when we bake for others, we are giving nourishment and thoughtfulness to them - like a food hug!
Whether you’re cuddling up to a partner, a family member, or a beloved pet, National Cuddle Up Day reminds us of the benefits of taking quiet moments for ourselves.
Making time to create more comforting spaces in our lives and relationships can calm us down, give us a chance to relax and to recognize and appreciate the simple joy of good people and lovely things that exist right in front of us.
Don’t forget to tell us about your favourite comfort rituals!
Related Article: Why Relaxation is Necessary for Soul Connection