Hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah”) is a concept that originated in Danish culture that focuses on living with a sense of comfort, coziness, and peace. It has often been described as creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things that life has to offer with as much positive energy surrounding oneself as possible.
Happiness researchers continually find Denmark to have some of the happiest people on Earth, which Danes attribute to the practice of hygge. The increased feelings of happiness and inner peace, and the emotional, physical, and relationship benefits that are key components of the hygge lifestyle, made me interested in finding out more about it. So, I read a book by Meik Wiking’s The Little Book of Hygge: Danish secrets to Happy Living which discusses positive aspects of this type of lifestyle, and I was “hooked”. Then and there I knew I wanted to share what I learned in this blog.
I am a mental health and wellness writer and have been incorporating Hygge living in my life for the past year and a half. Cultivating a practice like this has made me more in tune with my thoughts and feelings, thereby enabling me to live more calmly in the present most of the time. Of course, it is still a practice, and far from perfect, but I wholeheartedly embrace the imperfection of this style of living.
Some of the emotional benefits of a hygge practice lifestyle may include less depression and anxiety, a greater sense of control over certain areas of one’s life, and increased self-compassion, with less self-judgment and inner criticism, as well as a greater awareness of mindfulness and gratitude.
A Hygge-style environment promotes an atmosphere of safety and comfort, where our minds and bodies can feel more relaxed. This means we are more likely to reach out to build and nurture connections with others. In a hygge-centered lifestyle, there is an emphasis on connecting with family, friends, and loved ones. Having strong social support (more emphasis on quality of support as opposed to quantity) and spending time with those who are most important to us creates a sense of belonging and connection that research continuously shows impacts our health and well-being. Examples of possible social benefits may include a focus on togetherness, and feeling safe, increased trust and intimacy, improved existing relationships, (platonic or otherwise), the fostering of new social connections, and less reliance on social media, with more face-to-face connections sans technology.
So how is it done?
Warm Lighting — Lighting is an essential part of hygge living space. The use of warm, soft white light creates an inviting and comfortable space compared to harsh, bright white bulbs or fluorescent lighting.
Texture — Hygge is all about things that feel soft and cozy. Soft accessories like blankets, throws, and pillows create a warm, relaxing, and inviting space. The soft textures can be calming when anxieties run high. Conversations can also seem calmer and more open in this type of space.
A coffee break, aka a Fika — This may include baking or buying some sweet treats, and enjoying them in moderation.
A hygge nook, aka a Hyggekrog — The designation of a stress-free space or corner in one’s home whereby one can relax and be themselves.
Hosting a hygge get together — Hygge-style activities typically involve things that help us feel peaceful, cozy, and connected with others. Gatherings with friends in the home are a primary activity and are focused on the connection built with others, not how big or small one’s home is.
Reading as a distraction — Even a short amount of time spent reading can help reduce stress, and anxiety. Along with Hygge’s theme, it can make one feel more present and engaged.
Powering down of electronics — When screen time is limited, and all the distractions that come with it, burdens may seem less, as one is more in tune with the present.
Intentional Lingering — This involves savouring the moment just a little longer, whatever chore one may be doing, however mundane, with no plans to rush on to the next thing.
Minimal (but impactful) décor with less clutter — The utilization of pieces that have special meaning like pictures of family and loved ones. Hygge is about warmth and connection, so clutter free meaningful decor may serve to draw people in and create good meaningful conversation(s) around memories, which in and of itself can be a natural stress reliever.
Colour — The colours chosen for a hygge living space are a significant part of setting a cozy stage for reflection and peace of mind. Neutral colours are often chosen, particularly whites, soft whites, beiges, blushes, soft browns, light pinks, and greys. The use of neutral colour palettes may help to calm one’s mind and ease worries and anxieties, which all fit in with this particular style of living.
Child’s Play — This typically involves engaging one’s inner child by playing childlike games, thereby stimulating one’s sense of curiosity. Activities may include getting lost in a colouring book, playing hide and seek, exploring a new trail, or playing peek-a-boo with young children.
To bring it to a closure, I would like to highlight that a Hygge-focused lifestyle alone might not cure one’s depression or anxiety. However, personally, it has helped me build an intuitive space that’s designed for my personal comfort, peace, and feelings of safety. I am better able to foster deeper connections within myself, as well as with loved ones around me. The benefits of implementing some of these elements go beyond my emotional, physical and social health, as I noticed it being a boon to my overall mental health and wellbeing. Just as Meik Wiking let me in on Danish secrets of happy living, I hope that this blog will do the same for you, my reader.