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For our ancestors, winter was usually thought of as an enjoyable time of year even though the weather was cold. Winter time was often a time of less work and more leisure time, and this slower pace meant that winter was a peaceful time for relaxation and rest. This old-fashioned view of the cold weather months, and of life in general, is something that the Danish people embrace with their concept of hygge.
Hygge is pronounced something like “hue-gah” (although for months I had read it like “higgy” so that’s still how it sounds in my mind!), and there’s no direct equivalent for this word in English.
What is Hygge?
Hygge is a way of living that encompasses several themes such as coziness, comfort, warmth, contentment, connection with others, and an awareness and enjoyment of the simple pleasures in life.
Here are a couple definitions of hygge that I found:
“The Danish art of building a sanctuary of coziness, stirring the senses, and enjoying the simple things in life.”
“The art of building sanctuary and community, of inviting closeness and paying attention to what makes us feel open-hearted and alive; a coziness of the soul.”
How Can Hygge Improve Our Health?
Hygge is all about gaining an awareness and an appreciate of the simple things in life and finding ways to create an atmosphere of comfort and warmth and joy. The hygge lifestyle is something that the Danish embrace year-round, but it’s especially important during the cold, dark winter months. The extra focus on finding ways to be cozy and warm and enjoying the beauty around us can help to make the winter months more bearable.
The practice of hygge is also the perfect antidote to our busy, stressed lifestyles. When our days are filled with rushing from one thing to the next, meeting deadlines, constantly multitasking, and information overload, hygge can be the reminder we need to slow things down, even if it’s just for a little while, and focus on rest and on enjoying the simple things. By finding little ways to practice the hygge lifestyle, we can create little pockets of comfort and rest for ourselves to help balance out the stress we face in our daily lives.
10 Ways to Practice the Art of Hygge:
1) Get cozy with lots of blankets and quilts and pillows. The more the merrier when it comes to creating your “sanctuary of coziness”!
2) Sit by the fireplace or, if you’re like me and you don’t have one, you can light candles to add a cozy ambiance to the room. I like to use beeswax candles because they don’t add toxins to the air like some candles do.
4) Unplug for a while by turning off your phone, computer, TV, etc. and focus on enjoying some old-fashioned simple pleasures, like reading. Or spend some time doing your favorite creative hobby.
5) Indulge in your favorite comfort foods and snacks. My favorite is anything with chocolate, like this chocolate cake, but savory comfort foods are perfect for the hygge lifestyle, too.
6) Plan cozy get-togethers with friends. Have a potluck dinner or a game night or start a book club.
7) Enjoy a warm cup of your favorite hot beverage: tea, coffee, mulled cider, hot chocolate, etc.
8) Treat yourself to a luxury comfort item. I recently got this little space heater for the bathroom, and it’s so much nicer to get out of the shower and have the room be warm and cozy instead of freezing cold like it used to be!
9) Put on some warm, cozy socks or an extra sweater.
10) Take a few moments to appreciate the beauty around you. Look out the window and enjoy the beauty of a colorful sunset or watch the sunlight shimmering on the snow and ice. Focus on being more aware of your surroundings and notice the details you might normally miss.
Do you have any other good ideas for embracing the hygge lifestyle? Let us know in the comments!