Saturday, July 20Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

The Art of the Cose-a-thon – /ˈkəʊz-ə-θɒn/

With snow falling recently, the usual seasonal strangeness of a chilly spring encroaches. I’m sure meteorologists could explain the reason behind the cold snap of February, but throughout this Baltic lockdown I have been busy perfecting the art of the ‘cose-a-thon’, ie. a marathon of cosiness. What follows is my ultimate guide for snuggling up and getting cosy for the evening.

1.   Blankets – these are integral to any snuggle session. Grab a fluffy blanket, duvet or throw and hunker down. Recently I have invested in a weighted blanket – gaining notoriety lately as an anxiety reliever, the added weight does quite literally ‘ground’ you! They can be a little pricey, so you can experiment with piling blankets up to see whether you think the extra weight would suit you.

2.   A hot drink – another must-have for cosytown central. Ideally a herbal tea or hot chocolate would be best, you don’t want any caffeine to amp you up! I’d recommend Pukka’s ‘night time’ tea, with oat flower and valerian root, as it aids in relaxation and settles you in nicely. If you are looking for other herbal teas for sleep and relaxation, try lemon balm, passionflower, lavender or chamomile.

3.   Entertainment – now this entirely depends on what sort of relaxation session you are looking for. Perhaps you would like to watch a film, some YouTube videos, read a book or just listen to some music. I would usually opt for a RomCom film with a bowl of popcorn – no such thing as a ‘guilty’ pleasure by the way, if you enjoy something, be proud of it! If you’re looking for some relaxing music, there are plenty of YouTube and Spotify playlists.  A personal favourite of mine is ‘Nemo’s Dreamscapes’ on YouTube, a beautiful concept that acts as perfect background noise.

4.   Aromas – to really set the mood for the evening, lovely smells can activate your sensory receptors and help you to relax. Depending on your tenancy agreement you could light a scented candle or burn some incense (I tend towards Frankincense and Patchouli). However, if this is prohibited in your accommodation, a diffuser is always an option. Reed diffusers are easy to get your hands on, but if you want to take it to the next level you can get an aromatherapy diffuser for essential oils (I would use a blend of lavender, chamomile, bergamot and sandalwood).

5.   Ambience – ideally you’ll have the lights turned down low, or your room will simply be lit by candles or a lamp. Low lighting is good for getting your body to calm down and get cosy, as it takes advantage of our natural circadian rhythm and winds us down. Himalayan salt lamps are a bit of a home décor statement, but their soft orange glow and air purifying properties make them a wonderful bedside table accessory.

6.   Mani/Pedicure/Skincare – show your body some love! When I’m getting snuggled I love to do little rituals such as painting my nails or doing a facemask to really feel like I’m looking after myself. After a long week, it can do the world of good to take some time for yourself, have a bath and get the skincare routine going. Lush’s Beauty Sleep facemask is a wonderfully-smelling soothing skin treatment with lavender and neroli oils, setting you up perfectly for sleep. Bath salts are also a great investment as they can soften the skin and soothe aching muscles, coming in a variety of scents . If you want to put essential oils in your bath, be sure to mix them with a carrier oil such as olive or canola so that the neat oils won’t sting you – avoid citrus-based oils too as they can irritate the skin. Best to use lavender, chamomile or rose oil, but research them first!

7.   Mindfulness – a buzzword these days when it comes to self-care, and a westernised derivation of certain Buddhist philosophies, but being mindful of what you are doing is a great way to mentally give yourself a break. All too often, we go through life not fully engaging in our activities – not listening to a conversation, having to read the same paragraph over and over, watching a film but not really taking it in. Instead, I task you to mindfully engage in the activities of your cos-a-thon, as you are going through the rituals, say to yourself: ‘I am lighting a candle in order to relax myself’, or ‘I am painting my nails because I enjoy it.’  By simply thinking about what you are actually doing, you will engage with it at a deeper level and find it even more rewarding.

I hope that this little guide will help you on your way to enjoying a truly marvellous cose-a-thon. Heading straight into a national lockdown in 2021 was not the best of starts, but be sure to look after yourself and your body,, have some “me-time” and plan some future cose-a-thons!