The Soup Group: Experiencing Hygge through a Soup Exchange 

Not my typical library blog post, but something that helped me get through a rough school year….

hygge (noun): the feeling of coziness and contentment evoked by simple comforts 

Why do I find soup to be the epitome of hygge? Oh, let me count the ways…. 

  1. Nothing beats the feeling of a warm bowl of soup on a winter’s day.  
  1. Soups are traditionally simple. Yet within this simplicity soups are packed with so many healthy nutrients strengthening our bodies and mental wellness, too. 
  1. In preparing soup one must peel and chop vegetables requiring considerable concentration. During this focused time, we get to slow down and clear our minds. 
  1. Aromatherapy. Once all our ingredients are assembled and cooking, the smell of bay leaves, thyme, or peppercorn elicits our human experience, grounding and soothing us. More on aromatherapy click here.  

Through soup we experience all our senses. The aromatic smell. The delicious taste. The feeling of warmth as we cradle our bowl of sustenance. The soups of neutral or vibrant colors show us nature’s bounty. Hearing the slow simmer as our soup boils to perfection is nature’s music. As you can see, I am passionate about soup. 

However, with fewer family members living at home, I cook less. That’s why a group of us at work decided to implement a ‘soup exchange’ for the month of February. It’s kind of like a cookie swap but with soup. Each week I know I will enjoy several varieties of soup. This week was butternut squash, chicken soup with rice, Italian gnocchi soup, and pea soup. Yum. I’m looking forward to next week and subsequent weeks to see what I’ll experience both in giving and receiving.  

I highly recommend finding a few likeminded friends or colleagues to start your own soup exchange.  

Forest Bathing

Forest Bathing is….

Okay, so this is not my typical topic for a blog post. However, let me explain why I’ve chosen to write about it. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed this school year. It’s not a typical year; it’s a year filled with many changes and stressors. I know it’s the same for my students and I want to help them. But how do I do that when I’m not at optimal mental wellness? It’s difficult to help others when you can just about take care of yourself. So, this year I’ve dedicated myself to finding new ways of boosting social emotional wellness through natural ways. Let’s just say, so far stress eating hasn’t worked out so well 😉

As part of an activity for our Staff Hygge Group, I arranged a certified forest therapy guide to take us out to explore and experience nature. We have off for President’s Week and due to the pandemic few, if any of us are travelling, so this was a perfect week. Though cold with snow and ice on the ground, we managed to set out on a sunny day. First, let me make it clear that COVID precautions were in place. Even though, we spent over two hours outdoors – masks were worn and social distancing (except for a group photo op) was maintained.

Cold, but content

During our time communing with nature, we were ‘invited’ to experience the forest in unique ways. A series of seven invitations encouraged us to examine, smell, see and create. Let me be clear this was not a hike. We covered a mile in two hours. This was a mindful path through nature where we took time to experience nature, not to walk past it to get from point A to point B or to count towards 10,000 steps. This was an opportunity to slow down. To breathe. To see, really see. And, to embrace a mindful experience.

What are the benefits? Plenty.

Needless to say we are already planning our next forest bathing excursion – a little closer to Spring. The cleansing and healing powers of the forest have revived me. And so, I look forward to continuing to find my home amongst the trees.

May the forest be the place where your heart finds its home. Namaste.

The science behind forest therapy: Science Agrees: Nature is Good for You

Find a certified forest therapy guide through the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy.

For more regarding hygge library programming, read this article: Boost Social-Emotional Health with a Hygge Library Program.