Some of my friends have been talking about strategies for coping with the stress of the coming fall and winter. I would like to propose one in particular: Coziness. Make finding comfort, even if it’s just a few minutes, a deliberate practice. Take time to think about your ultimate cozy place. It’s better than thinking about the news.

My cozy place

Coziness has something for all the senses, but primarily the sense of touch.

You know it by feel with your eyes closed: It’s that old, oversized sweater with the sleeves that almost reach the tips of your fingers; your fuzzy slippers that have permanently molded to the exact shape of each of your feet; that one pair of extra soft, thick socks you could find in the drawer in the dark by touch alone; the one mug with the just right weight and curve that nestles warmly in your hands so perfectly that the chip in the handle doesn’t matter; the frayed comforter you’ve had forever or maybe one of those new plush blankets that’s so soft it’s like touching air; a furry friend in your lap; your chair – you know the one – or your corner of the sofa.

Smell and taste are old, old senses. They burrow beneath thought and can take you away from everything scratching at the surface of your brain. What are the smells and tastes that evoke your most comforting memories? Wood burning in the fireplace? Soup on the stove? Bread or cookies just out of the oven? What’s your cozy beverage? Tea? Cocoa? A glass of wine or a snifter of brandy? And maybe one of those warm cookies or a little plate of cheese, crackers and pear wedges. When my son, Eric was little, he loved the smell of cloves so much, he made a little bag of them and wore it around his neck so he could sniff it anytime he felt worried or sad. What’s your bag of cloves?

What’s in your ears and eyes when you feel the most cozy? Rain on the window? The snap and flicker of a fire? Maybe it’s favorite music in your earbuds or yarn in your hands or a book you’ve wanted to read or reread forever? Is it time to rewatch that silly TV series you’ve seen a dozen times? A long phone chat with a dear friend. Or do you crave just a bit of silence – a break from the endless natter of the TV or the people in your household demanding your attention. You deserve and are absolutely worth five minutes of silence even if it’s uncomfortable for other people. They’ll live.

I would challenge you to find your own definition of coziness and make space for it in your life, but challenge is not a cozy word. I have a wish for you: That even on the busiest, craziest, jangled-nerve days of your life, there’s a place you’ve made just for yourself – a nest you can retreat to for just a few minutes of cozy comfort.