Wellness is overwhelming, especially when you’re struggling with its many dimensions and haven’t the foggiest where to begin. Oh, the irony, even reading about it can leave you feeling anything but well. I, however, unwittingly stumbled upon something in resilient, enchanting Caledonia that changed my perspective–a gentle introduction to a style of living that teaches you how to cultivate a cozy kind of wellness.
What Is Wellness?
Cosy and wellness are familiar words, and while the former is a feeling that most of us have experienced, the latter is a concept that’s more ambiguous and often used interchangeably with health and well-being.
Wellness, according to the Global Wellness Institute, has a few defining characteristics:
- Active, as opposed to a static state
- Holistic, as opposed to episodic
- Prevention, as opposed to correction
What Is Cosy Wellness?
Cozy is a feeling that acts like magic for our health. If you’ve heard of concepts like coorie and hygge, than cosy wellness will feel like warm familiarity. Cultivating coziness has a way of increasing our happiness and reducing anxiety, so when we explore wellness–the active pursuit of holistic health–in all its dimensions, cosy becomes the cocoon of warmth, safety, ease, quiet happiness, and well-being that wraps itself snugly around us on our journey.
Dimension 1: Mental Health
Mental exercises like learning, solving, and creating are the fruit and veg of the mind garden. Give your mind permission to play. Learn some new wilderness skills, take up herbology, start a blog (I recommend Stray Curls for blogging tips and lighthearted amusement), journal, learn a language, move pieces strategically around a chess board, try out a new recipe or, my favorite pastime, cozying up with a thought-provoking book to stretch the mind.
After we bid adieu to Scotland and returned home, I let the residual magic I experienced in the Highlands manifest into poetry (of which I am utter rubbish). My first ballad … so grim and curious but oh, it felt divine.
Dimension 2: Emotional Health
Snug. The word makes you feel as if you’re wrapped in a warm embrace. Alas, I’m reticent by nature, but when I’m snug, I feel safe to open up and let my vulnerabilities out to chum. Conversations between you and preferably company you enjoy is good for your emotional health, though any manner of emotional expression can leave you feeling merrier.
Recently, my favorite convivial pairing is food and conversation. Cooking with my husband–my best pally–and chatting on various topics with a splash of wine is therapy for my soul. Food puts everyone in a jolly mood (as does drink), and connecting with the right people can help you acquire a higher level of emotional awareness.
To cozy up any space, try filling it with candlelight, fluffy pillows, a fleecy blanket, Billie Holiday (her music, not her obviously/regrettably), perhaps a plump kitty cat snoozing in the lap of your preteen who’s been miraculously cured of their preteen-ness–whatever elicits warmth and comfort for you.
Dimension 3: Physical Health
Snug as a hobbit in her hole with a fireside story and a cozy reading nook, a smidge of quiet time to write and, voilà, contentment is me. Like others of my kind (introverts with a touch of bookworm about them), I tend to enjoy the great indoors, but–as my husband who is wellness incarnate likes to remind me–too much of anything must be broken up by something if you want to live a well and balanced life. To that, I say nothing because I concur, but it puts me in a surly mood.
Sadly, I never had a favorite form of physical activity until I went hiking in the Highlands. Scotland’s dark, dramatic landscapes are my cup of tea. Twas inevitable, my melancholy soul fell in love with the hill and heather, so much so that we spent days and hours trekking, and when it was all over, even I had to admit that hiking made cozying up afterward even more delightful. When you feel the kind of exhaustion that only physical activity and fresh air can gift you, nothing becomes quite as inviting as a warm bev and a snuggly blanket.
Dimension 4: Spiritual Health
We’d made our way to Land’s End, to the far north in Caithness. I was in a foul mood, according to my husband. Sensing danger, he suggested we drive down the coast to a seaport town called Wick, which was formerly a Viking settlement and the busiest herring port in Europe during the 19th century.
We eventually found our way to a little church that was able to calm the sea of my emotions. Unlike my husband, I wasn’t raised in a religious environment, but through him I’ve witnessed how religion, spirituality, guiding beliefs, values, and principles can carry you with ease and serenity through life. When you know how your inner compass works, you feel a warmness in your soul and protected from the cold (weather or otherwise). Discovering your own inner compass is paramount. Don’t take ages like I did to understand and build your foundation.
If you haven’t already, schedule some you time and lean in, get comfortable, find a sanctuary that’s safe and quiet, then discover who you are and how you want to move through the world. Your inner compass will help to navigate and align you (or re-align you–hey, mistakes happen) with your beliefs, values, and principles.
Dimension 5: Social Health
I’m not going to tell you to go out, socialize, and make new friends, but I will offer a few (introvert-friendly) suggestions: A cozy atmosphere is a warm and inviting one. It’s easier to open up and have those deep, meaningful conversations that fill us with the warm and fuzzies when you feel safe to be a genuine version of yourself.
To create a cozy, convivial atmosphere, find ways to incorporate soft lighting and soft textures, along with connecting with the natural world through natural elements and natural materials. There’s an interesting correlation between humans and nature, but I’ll divulge in another post.
For my women (and men) of letters, if you’re keen to experience something uncommon, try a salon. Who knows, you may have a smashing time. In case you’re left scratching your head and wondering what hair has to do with this, allow me to explain (just a wee bit, I promise).
Salon culture started in Italy in the 16th century. By the 18th century, French salons hosted by a salonnière (a lady host, which was unconventional for the times) were in vogue. The salonnière provided a safe egalitarian space to socialize and engage in intellectual discourse. Even to this day, salons are held all over the world. If it suits your fancy (and you want to nerd out as I did), The Beautiful Soul is an excellent resource.
Cozy connections, however, don’t need to be complicated. Head to the pub for cider and a hearty meal. Pubs have a warm and cozy ambiance which makes them ideal for a cozy huddle and a warm chat (especially in Scotland). If you find yourself in the area, the pub over at The Old Inn on the Isle of Skye is warm and inviting with top views.
Dimension 6: Environmental Health
Like any relationship, mother nature needs you to cultivate a healthy one with her. It’s difficult to care about something you feel no connection to. Sometimes it takes a little convincing (I’m perfectly content hibernating in my writer’s den), but once I’m lost among the wood and the world takes on a storybook quality, I understand the good fight.
If you feel disconnected from mother Earth, and none of this outdoorsy-ness resonates with you, nessun problema. There are plenty of ways to cultivate a relationship with nature. Try pulling on your wooly socks and hiking boots, and going for a trek. Grow a little garden, gather a few pallies and sleep under the stars (wild camping is legal in Scotland!), spend some time in the forest observing the woodland creatures at play. If you’re brave and bonkers, you could try cold-water swimming in a frozen loch (but don’t blame me if your bum gets frostnip).
Before exploring wild Caledonia, I never witnessed such dark, dramatic beauty, nor nature’s healing magic. Yet walking along the cliffs, I felt intense gratitude. My hair was blowing in the wind (all movie-like for once instead of the usual whipping-me-in-the-eye-long hair problems). Breathing in the cool wild air, I realized mother nature had taken my anxiety from me. In the absence of it, I felt warm and well, and deeply connected to all my senses.
Nature gives to us without asking for much in return, except to care for her. I know there are areas in my life where I can care for her better, though like wellness, it can feel cumbersome.
Ease your way into it by putting an end to your junk mail, making the conscious decision to walk or cycle in place of driving (it’s a great way to lose and manage your weight), and choosing good quality, sustainable clothing that can last you for many years. Like British fashion designer and environmentalist, Vivienne Westwood, said:
“Buy less, choose well and make it last”.— Vivienne Westwood
Here Be Dragons
Wellness doesn’t need to feel overwhelming. Despite our desire for chronological order and linear pathways, wellness and healing are nonlinear. Everything from your environment, to your biology, to your personality will determine what wellness means and looks like to you. Similarly, what is cozy to you will depend upon your culture and experiences. Find your cozy fit, and like a snug bit of armor, cosy wellness can help you stay warm and safe as you embark into the unknown.
“Potato, potahto,” as my son would say, but you may have noticed the use of both “cosy” (British English) and “cozy” (American English) throughout my entries. It’s not from a lackadaisical attitude, nor is it driven by (tut tut) an obnoxious desire to drive you mad … if you are driven mad by these kinds of things. (Me, too, logophile, me, too.)
I chose the British English spelling as a way to honor the warmth and wellness I first experienced in the UK. I suppose you could say this cosy vs cozy business is a matter of the heart. The Cosy Wellness Collection is, at its simplest, a love letter to a time when I felt safe, warm, well, and merry. It’s a love letter to the girl I was then, to the woman I hope to become again one day, and to you, dear readers. I’m just a newcomer in an ancient city pursuing wellness and learning how to cultivate more “cosy” in my life, but I warmly invite you to join me on my journey. I hope I can help you to cultivate a cozy kind of wellness in your life, too.