When I was first introduced to the Danish concept of hygge (hue-guh), I fell in love. Hygge is a coveted way of life to the Danes. It is used as both a noun and an adjective to describe the feeling of cozy contentment and safety. It is warmth, togetherness, and finding joy in the simplest things. Hygge is drinking hot chocolate by the fireplace, curling up in bed with a good book, or creating a comfortable atmosphere with candles and soft blankets.
Scandinavian countries are among the happiest in the world, and it’s not hard to see why Denmark tops that list. In The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking, hygge is said to be as central to Danish culture as freedom is to Americans. The best part? You don’t need to spend money to infuse hygge into your life. It’s a mood that you can create by slowing down, spending time with friends, or connecting with nature.
Here are some ways that you can make your life more hyggelig (hue-guh-lee) in order kick seasonal depression to the curb and improve your overall wellbeing.
Comfort and relaxation
What’s cozier than holding a glass of wine or a steaming mug of tea and curling up in a pile of blankets? Or reading a book next to a flickering candle? Unsurprisingly, Denmark burns more candles than any other nation in the world. It’s a great way to create a hyggelig atmosphere in your home without spending too much money or putting in too much effort.
But if a tiny candle flame is cozy, then what about an entire fire? If you have access to an indoor fireplace, pellet stove, or campfire, then lighting one may be the perfect opportunity to gather around and appreciate the warmth. If this is not an option, consider a fake fireplace! Many have similar lighting effects and crackling noises that a real fire would provide.
Comfy clothing can also bring on feelings of hygge. Throwing on a warm, oversized sweater and thick knitted socks can be a perfect way to unwind and cozy-up at the end of a long day. What better way to destress your mind than to take off your jeans and replace them with warm sweatpants?
Connection to nature
Enjoying the sights, smells, and sounds of nature is an important aspect of hygge. Take a break from your busy schedule and go for a walk or a bike ride, either alone or with a group of friends. Try bringing fresh-picked flowers into your home or cooking with natural ingredients.
You can have hygge by yourself, but sometimes the most perfect moments are amplified by the people you share them with. Small groups of friends and family can be intimate and comforting.
Turning off the television and putting away cell-phones can do wonders for increasing the feeling of togetherness, whether you’re gathering around the fireplace for s’mores or the dinner table for a home-cooked meal. Card games and other group activities are perfect for creating feelings of comfort and companionship.
Hygge is about enjoying the simple things in life. It could be the ten minutes you carve out of your schedule for sipping your morning coffee in bed. It could be drifting in a kayak over a tranquil body of water. It’s the little things in life we take for granted, but these simple moments can oftentimes be our happiest. Take a few minutes out of your day to appreciate them, and that might make all the difference.
The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking