British Columbia·Point of View

Beat the January blues by getting cosy and 'koselig' outdoors with the family

You've heard of hygge, but could koselig be the cure for the post-holiday winter blues?

Instead of moping about the miserable weather, make like the Norwegians and embrace it

While sunlight can be hard to come by in the winter months, spending time in the snow can be great for raising spirits. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

This story is part of Amy Bell's Parental Guidance column, which airs on CBC Radio One's The Early Edition.


I don't know why, but each year after the holidays I'm shocked to find out that there are still weeks — in fact, months — of winter left. 

Add to the fact that January here is traditionally wet, mucky and drab and the January blues are a very real thing.  

As my kids have gotten older, I've noticed them feeling that post-holiday crash pretty keenly. They're tired and cranky; bored, but too unmotivated to leave the couch. Not really hungry, but listlessly eating carbs. 

Sound familiar? Then you, too, might have the winter blahs. So why does it hit us so hard every year? 

It's definitely biology, especially for us sunlight-starved denizens of more northern latitudes. But there's more than just a lack of vitamin D going on.

Child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Susan Baer says there are unique factors that collide to colour this month a little more blue than the rest. Not only are the opportunities for sunshine few and far between, but coming down from the high of the holidays can leave everyone feeling unmoored. 

"The holidays are something everyone looks forward to ... it's almost like a project," says Baer. "And when that's done with, it's almost like, 'so now what?'"

Heard of hygge? You should know about koselig

So what are West Coasters to do? We look to the Norwegians! 

Sure, it was the Danes who introduced us to "hygge" — but allow me to introduce you to "koselig".

Roughly translated, it means "cosy," but that's not quite right. While hygge is more about curling under a warm blanket to read a book, koselig is the cosiness you feel in the winter when you are with friends and family and enjoying nature: Just bundling up and getting ready for the peace and tranquillity of the great outdoors. No hustle. No bustle. And definitely no screens. 

Is it easy to achieve? Not always. But it's so important for kids to grow up knowing that even in the cold and dark, nature can be enjoyed and embraced with the people you love. 

'It's just so glorious' 

But it can be a tough sell for kids and adults alike when you're being blasted by relentless rain and getting trench foot from all the puddles. 

Founder and CEO of VancouverMom.ca Christine Pilkington was the one who introduced me to this delightful concept and reminded me that thanks to our unique geography, we can literally rise above the clouds and find that perfect winter wonderland with just a short trip. 

It's easy for West Coasters to get out of the rain and into the snow. (Christer Waara/CBC)

"Take a moment where you can just drive up into the mountains. Pick one of those days when you can get above the clouds and hit the sky ... it is just so glorious."

I'm trying to treat January as a time to regroup and recharge after a very hectic holiday season. Instead of counting down the minutes until brighter days are here, I want to bundle myself and my kids up and rejoice in the darkness and in the slowness. 

There is still magic to be found — you just have to look a littler harder now that all the sparkling decorations have been packed away. I don't make resolutions, but I am hoping that this winter can be a time of much hygge and koselig for my family.  And, I hope, for yours, too. 

About the Author

Amy Bell is a digital contributor to CBC. She can be heard weekdays on The Early Edition as the traffic and weather reporter and parenting columnist.

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