Hygge. You might have seen the word. You might even be familiar with some of its concepts. You probably have a hard time pronouncing it! (It’s pronounced “hoo-guh” by the way.)
The concept of hygge is that of creating a feeling of coziness in the winter months. But really, it’s more than the accoutrements of coziness such as blankets and candles, although they are important parts. Hygge is a way of life in which one not only copes with living in the winter months but thrives.
Hygge is most associated with Denmark, where the Danes experience dark, cold winter months. Despite the weather, Denmark consistently ranks as one of the happiest countries in the world, if not the happiest. The country even has a Happiness Research Institute, a think tank that focuses on wellbeing.
It’s known that embracing the concept of hygge increases feelings of wellness and contentment. This is because hygge encourages you to embrace the winter season instead of curse it. It’s a shifting of mindset from thinking that winter is an isolating, depressing time to one in which you gain the opportunity to engage in self-care, warmth, quiet, and introspection. Seeing the benefits of each wheel of the year is the supreme act of living seasonally.
How can you embrace hygge and incorporate it into your winter lifestyle?
Comfort is key
Embrace comfort. Pile up the blankets. Wear comfy clothing and thick warm socks. Layer extra throw pillows on the bed or sofa. Create an environment where you feel warm and safe. Instead of wide open spaces, aim for creating a cocoon in a part of a room. Maybe it’s a chair in a corner that transforms into a reading nook.
Flame your fires
Cozy up to a fireplace. If you have one, light it. If you don’t have a fireplace you can improvise. Buy a space heater that simulates a fireplace, flame and all. Or, upload an image of a fireplace on your computer or television and sit for a spell.
Cook and eat comfort foods. Stews, soups, bread, warm drinks. Fill your belly with warmth. These winter foods tend to take longer to prepare, so slow down and enjoy the time chopping, kneading, baking, and simmering.
Decrease the electricity
Fill your space with candlelight. As daylight tends to be shorter, bring light in with candles. Allow the soft glow of real candles or even flameless candles to create ambience. Remember, don’t curse the darkness, light a candle! Turn off electronic devices and decrease the use of artificial lighting.
Fill up on fresh air
Get outdoors even if it’s in short spurts! Look at the different perspectives available to you in the winter months, when the bones of nature are exposed. Breathe in fresh air. Embrace a star-filled winter night sky.
Dress the part
Dress appropriately for the weather. Bundle up. Wearing the proper clothing will make it an enjoyable experience. Meik Wiking, Chief Executive of the Happiness Institute, is a proponent of what she calls the benefit of “outdoorphins.” The Danes have a saying that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.
Gather with loved ones
This year, with the world experience of pandemic, one of the most important components of hygge can’t be easily or safely experienced: communing with friends and family. Normally, sitting around a table sharing food, conversation, and laughter with friends and family is a big part of the hygge lifestyle. Just because socializing needs to look different this year doesn’t mean you should forgot about it as part of your hygge winter plans. If possible, have a bonfire party with social distancing. Ask everyone to bring a basket of food and drinks for themselves, and sit around the fire socializing, eating, and covered in blankets. However, if outdoor socializing isn’t possible (or permitted), embrace the moment and let 2020 be the year that you focus on communing with yourself.
Living a hygge lifestyle turns the concept of “coping” with winter into embracing it. Look at it as an opportunity to engage in self-care. Winter is all about turning inward. Use this time to rest and relax. The concept of hygge is meant to be lived and experienced as it provides real physical and emotional benefits. Remember to focus on the present, live in the moment, wrap yourself in warmth.
Anne Greco is a non-fiction writer who writes about her life experiences and travels with humor, keen observations, and the hope that her words will remind us that “we’re all just walking each other home.” Her book, Serendipity: Chance Pilgrimages, tells the story of Anne encountering her places of power. As she reconnects with herself at each site, Anne also develops a deeper understanding and appreciation of her connection to both the seen and unseen worlds. Learn more about her work here: http://annegrecowriter.com.