Wife, Mama, Oregonian, coffee lover, chronic illness warrior, and entrepreneur.
What is Hygge?
If you use social media at all (particularly Pinterest), you’ve likely heard the term “hygge,” which has been floating around the internet for a few years now. Pronounced “hue-gah” this Danish word has been defined as “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).” Similar to “chrysalism” (the cozy feeling you get from being inside during a thunderstorm) and “vellichor” (the sense of longing and nostalgia you often get in places like used book stores) hygge embodies a sense of cozy security. It’s the sense that where you are right now, all is right with the world; you are safe, you are loved, you can relax. In fact, according to Meik Wiking, author of The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living “what freedom is to Americans. . . hygge is to Danes.”
“What freedom is to Americans, hygge is to Danes.”
— Meik Wiking
Some have speculated that the word “hygge” comes from the word “hugge” or “hug” originating in the 1560’s. While this is possible, it is most closely related to the Danish word meaning “to give courage, comfort of joy.” This word typically refers to home life, though it’s more literally a state of mind. Because language is dynamic, hygge can truly mean exactly what it means to you: the feeling of putting on your favorite sweater, walking barefoot through the grass or enjoying a cup of hot tea during a rain storm.
Denmark has consistently ranked at the top of the list of the world’s happiest countries the the concept of hygge may be partially responsible for that trend. The fact that Danes are so consistently happy is even more remarkable considering the average temperature in Copenhagen is very low and snow levels particularly high. While Americans are googling ways to deal with their seasonal affective disorder, the Danish people are cozying up with a good book and a hot bowl of stew. Perhaps we could take a lesson from them.
Easy Ways You Can Practice Hygge All Year Round:
Conspiracy inclined individuals have suggested that the importation of hygge to America is nothing more than an advertising ploy to get consumers shopping at places like Anthropologie. While I don’t believe this to be true, it can be easy to get carried away trying to make you home a hygge paradise. However, the core idea of hygge is to enjoy the simple pleasures of life and it is deeply antithetical to shameless consumerism. If you’re looking for ways to incorporate a little hygge into your life without breaking the bank, here are some suggestions:
Take a Bath
Few things are as relaxing as good bath. Why not grab a good book and pour in your favorite epsom salt blend and soak in the simple luxury. Many brands offer scented epsom salts, or even fancy bath bombs. For extra relaxation, turn down the lights and turn on your favorite music or ambient nature sounds.
Light a Candle
Lighting a candle is such a simple way to enhance the mood in any room and smells are linked closely with emotions. If you’re ready to feel more calm and centered, pick out a new candle and light it up. The memories you make while smelling that particular scent will come back to you whenever you smell it again.
Indulge in Your Favorite Hot Beverage
Some perfect winter hygge beverages are tea and hot cocoa. If you prefer cold drinks, consider steeping sliced ginger in hot water and then pouring over ice and adding lemon and honey.
Take a Walk
Walking is an activity that is therapeutic on multiple levels. Besides being a great way to burn a few extra calories, a walk around your neighborhood can help ground you in your surroundings and make you feel more connected to your environment. Extra credit for walking barefoot!
Try a New Hobby
Knitting, crocheting, needlepoint, embroidery and painting are all creative ways to hygge. There is a wealth of information on YouTube and learning these simple hobbies is easier than ever. Pick one and give it a try!
Read a Book
Have a book sitting on your shelf you've been dying to read? Now's the time to pull it out. If you're lucky, you may even get some rain to go along with your reading session.
Get Rid of Excess
Minimalism is one of the highest forms of luxury. Too much stuff can cause both mental and emotional clutter, besides taking up physical space. Reclaim some elbow room in your life without spending a cent by ditching the stuff that’s holding you back. For inspiration on a more dramatic method of decluttering, check out Marie Kondo’s Netflix special Tidying Up With Marie Kondo. For a more gentle approach start with one or two bags or declutter that scary kitchen drawer and see how you feel.
Journaling is a simple way to sort through thoughts and feelings. It has been linked to some surprising health benefits and can even improve your IQ! If you’re like me and prefer not to write down your innermost thoughts, consider bullet journaling as an alternative.
Try a New Recipe
Cooking for loved ones is an excellent expression of hygge. As Alan D. Wolflelt said, “Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.” Few things are cozier than warm food fresh from the oven. Have a bread recipe you’ve been dying to try? Pull it out and get kneading! Found a great summer salad recipe with an unusual vegetable? Enjoy the opportunity to experience a new flavor!
Take a Drive
This idea encompasses both the familiarity of youth and the thrill of a new adventure. Remember when you were in high school, driving around in your first car with the windows down, blaring your favorite song? Why not enjoy some nostalgia and capture that feeling again? Get in the car with a loved one and flip a coin at stoplights and see where you end up.
Enjoy Some Classical Music
A great way to wind down, classical music has many benefits besides simply providing a relaxing atmosphere. Some of my favorite classical music Vladimir Feltsman playing Chopin’s Nocturnes. I promise it will make you feel cozy from the inside out.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Abigail Hreha (author) from Oregon on June 09, 2019:
Thanks so much, Pamela!!
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 09, 2019:
Hygge is an interesting way to view the thngs you can do to feel good and happy. Maybe we can learn some things from the Danes. I truly enjoyed this excellent article.