The concept of “hygge”, (pronounced hoo-gah), adopted by the Danes is a hard one to define; to some it is the art of creating intimacy, to others it is simply the absence of annoyance. But one thing that is for definite, is that at the heart of it it’s about an atmosphere and an experience you embody rather than material things.
The Danes are known for being one of the happiest nations in the world, with their state system having welfare at the forefront of their mind. Whilst we can’t change the way other countries run or the fundamentals of our own evolving lives, we can intertwine a little piece of hygge into our routine to help us be more present and we’d be all the better for it. Take it from them, it works.
Scandinavian winters can be bitterly cold and serve minimal daylight which, naturally, isn’t the most warm or welcoming environment to live in. Whilst we’re not quite as unlucky in the UK, low pressure, rainy days and grey skies can make the weeks feel like they’re never ending and you’re just hanging on until the days get warmer and the evenings get lighter.
So, geared more towards winter, here are 6 practical ways you can add some hygge into your life.
Socialise, Socialise, Socialise
When it’s cold, dark and miserable the temptation to hide away inside under a duvet and watch Netflix is at an all-time high. A key component of hygge is “togetherness”. Use the cold weather as an excuse to spend quality time with those around you, be it friends or family. Whether you have a free 10 minutes or an hour surround yourself with people who make you feel warm. 10 minutes? Sing loudly in the car with your best friend. An hour? Make a meal with someone and eat it together. Taking the time to actively engage with people in your life can boost your self-esteem, energy and mood no end; even if it’s cold and dark outside.
Make it cosy
The diminishing daylight during wintertime can be tough on us but the Danes know how to use this to their advantage. They dim the harsh fluorescent indoor lights and introduce the natural warmth of flickering of firelight with candles and open fires. Being able to create a comforting oasis that makes the world feel so much less dreary can make the even most menial of tasks enjoyable.
Going outside when it’s cold can be a chore. You don’t want to get wet and staying in can look much more inviting. However, as cliché as it sounds fresh air does you the world of good. If you’re going outside even to the post office, make yourself more present. Notice things you wouldn’t usually on such a brief outing. Crunchy leaves, the way the light hits the trees or the sound of the rain. Turning things into intentional reflections may sound cheesy but you’d be surprised how positive an impact it can have when being outsides seems undesirable at best.
“Wrap up warm it’s cold outside”, the repetitive phrase you heard as you stepped outside for school each morning. If it’s freezing cold, or wet, or both, wear something that makes you feel extra cosy. The Danes are inherently practical with their fashion choices, sturdy boots, trench coats and scarfs but walking around Copenhagen you can see everyone’s individuality shine through. Take the time in the morning to choose what you want to wear and make it a conscious decision you make for yourself. Life is busy so it’s easy to throw on the same thing every day and rush out the door. Take 5 minutes and channel your sense of self.