It's called Hygge. Pronounced "Hoo-gah," this Danish expression is an attitude towards life that emphasises finding joy and simplicity in everyday moments. Winter can be a real drudge for many people as the nights have now drawn in and we go to work in the dark and come home in the dark, many not seeing daylight at all as they work in dark work places and have to endure badly lit buildings and homes, however hygge is about celebrating coziness, warmth and family, as well as practicing mindfulness.
The word hygge comes from a Danish word meaning ‘to give courage, comfort and joy’. There is no english word that describes such a way of life and in my opinion, hygge sounds perfect for another winter looming. The word hygge can be used interchangeably to describe cosiness, happiness, contentedness, simplistic, familiar, comfort and reassurance.
If like me, you comfortable lounging around at home in your sweatpants, a baggy hoodie and a big pair of extra thick wooly socks? Then that's hygge for you. Love sitting on the couch under a blanket, curled up with a good book, maybe you are reading ‘The little book of Hygge: The Danish way to live well’ by Meik Wiking? That's hygge, too.
According to the Danish people, hygge needs an open fire - I don’t have one of these so I might draw flames on the lounge wall to give myself the illusion of a cosy fire and extra warmth! (I am after all, an NLP Practitioner! lol)
Apparently the fire is the most important part of creating an atmosphere of hygge at home. According to the Danes, the average person burns more than 6kg of candle wax per year; more than anywhere else in the world. If you want to embrace hygge yourself, you can start by lighting some candles, however use non-carcinogenic, toxic candles. Try clean-burning soy wax or beeswax candles, but be sure to look for 100% on the labels, and, when possible, select wax that is naturally derived or sustainably sourced.
Blankets have always been a go-to for coziness, especially if you are female, or is that just in my family?! If you really want to embrace the hygge life, though, consider crocheting your own blanket, however I’ll opt out of this pastime and stick with drawing and painting! Needles and wool or thread stress me out and that’s not exactly hygge is it?
Comfort foods are essential to the hygge experience way of life. In the UK, this would mean chunky soup, stews & dumplings, fruit crumbles, suet pudding and custard - you can’t forget the custard! Anything that is heavy and starch based gives a Brit a feeling of hygge.
When it comes to hygge drinks, think warm and thick & for many, calorie dense. Hot chocolate is a great choice, especially on chilly evenings and is a favourite with children and adults alike. I love green tea with apple cider vinegar and my partner likes the same however with a spoonful of honey direct from his beehive. A further suggestion is golden milk. You will find the recipe here.
Hygge is not difficult to achieve however be mindful that although it’s great spending time wrapped up in a cosy blanket reading a good book; extended periods of solitude are not considered hygge. It is not good to spend long periods alone, as I have witnessed during lockdown with a vast majority of clients, family members and people in my community feeling isolated. Being lonely can cause psychological damage so if you really want to experience hygge, include a community element such as spending time with friends and family, maybe consider spending time with someone who is lonely too. Being of service gives one a real sense of hygge.
Spending all your time looking at your phone, TV and other electronic devices is not-so-hygge. Electronic devices and watching TV all the time, especially the propaganda of mainstream media is stressful and can be very frightening to many people. Hygge is relaxing, which is why it is so appealing in our hectic, fear-based societies.
There are no strict rules in obtaining hygge for hygge is about doing what makes you feel happy, contented, comfortable & cosy. It is taking the time to slow down, relax, be mindful and experience the joy and love in the little things in life. Adding strict rules to that would only make it stressful and would not take into account the individuals feelings. Hygge wants to teach calm, joy, warmth, love and good company to share all these things with. Hygge is friendly and forgiving, so don't get too caught up in trying to do it perfectly, just be mindful how you feel when you do achieve it. It’s a feeling you’ll want to last and one you will strive to achieve again and again.
Love and snuggles from the Wellbeing Toolbox x