If you tend to consume lifestyle and self care content, the chances are you would have come across the word Hygge before. The word hygge is pronounced almost like ‘hoo-ga’ from what I understand. Back in January I read Meik Wiking’s Book, The Little Book of Hygge, and when I tell you I’m obsessed, I am obsessed ( read that last bit as if it has the clapping hands emojis between each word, that’s how I’m imaging it but don’t have an apple laptop so just going to have to accept the L there) If you are planning on reading this book I’d definitely recommend getting in paperback cause I originally read it on kindle but I feel like it isn’t the same, especially because paperback books are alot more hygge than kindle books hahah.
Danes are some of the happiest people on earth, with Denmark quite often appearing at the top of lists detailing the ‘happiest countries in the world’, and this book suggests the reason for this is infact the Danes obsession with hygge and slow paced living.There is no one set definition for hygge, it is a danish concept that doesn’t have a direct english translation. The general gist of Hygge is cozy living, warmness and appricitating the simple things in life. One of my main takeaways from the book was about how a large part of hygge is focused on enjoying the simple things in life, as in practice this can boost your happiness and it is clearly working for the Danes so why not.
The best definition I could find online was this one: The Danish concept of hygge, or hyggelig (adj.), refers to finding comfort, pleasure, and warmth in simple, soothing things such as a cozy atmosphere or the feeling of friendship. The Scandinavian term encompasses a feeling of coziness, contentment, and well-being found through cherishing the little things. I think it sums it up pretty well.
If it still seems abit confusing to you as a concept, I’ll try explaining what hygge means to me. To me one of the most hygge activities I can picture is being curled up under blankets on a rainy autumn day with a hot coffee/hot chocolate in one hand and a good book in the other. Despite most hygge activities running with the cozy theme, hygge isn’t just reserved for those winter months, hygge is also big in the summer. Hygge in summer is the feeling of sitting outside with your closest friends in the evening, the air still warm on your skin, laughing about old memories together. That warm, cozy feeling of friendship is an all year round feeling, and it is a good way to incorporate hygge into your life in the warmer summer months.
Now that you understand the basic concepts and feelings of hygge, onto the main part of this post: the hygge starter kit! I’m going to share with you how to start building hygge into your life, and how to create what is essentially a hygge survival kit. Almost like a self care toolkit, you are going to build a hygge toolkit to make sure you are focusing on the little,cozy moments of everyday life, because these subtle changes and focusing on them clearly make a difference- just look at how its working for the Danish. I think it is worth bearing in mind that it is probably hard to lead as much of a hygge filled life here in England than it is in Denmark, as I feel like the pace of life is potentially faster here, but changes to what you choose to focus on and the environment around you can up your ‘hygge level’ in life. It is also important to note that, although quite abit of this post will be focusing on the environment around you and material things, from my understanding hygge is not about spending lots of money and material possessions, it is more about the feelings you create from certain environments.
Changes to your environment
The first step to adding hygge to your life is changes to your environment. This is such a big part of it, in Meik’s book he details how when asked, the main part of hygge for alot of Danes were lighting, more specifically candles. Danes go through an unhealthy amount of candles, around 13 pounds of candle wax per capita per year, I can’t really comprehend that but it is alot. Adding candles around you can help at to the cozy feeling at anytime, and they don’t have to be expensive ones! Just getting a load of cheap ones is fine to dot around your room, you could treat yourself to one or two really nice ones as the main candles, but having lots of tealights dotted around ( which are like £1 for 50) can really add to the cozy vibe of your room. You can also get really cute tealight holders if you are on a budget. Having lots of blankets and cushions dotted around can also add to the hygge level. I’ve found my room feels most hygge when it’s not 100% tidy, when it has some stuff lying around and the blankets on my bed are ruffled, when it just looks quite natural, so don’t worry about your room being immaculate every time you want that cozy feeling. In summer you can still burn candles, maybe switch your usual ones out for some more floral scents, or something basic but light like clean linen. In the summer and spring having lots of flowers around you can also be great, it can remind to you ‘stop and smell the flowers’ as some might say. Cringe but one of the main principles of hygge is living slowly and appreciating the small things, and I always find flowers remind me to do this. Maybe in the winter months some dried flowers may add to the hygge, I’ve seen some really pretty ones.
Hygge activities are those that give you that warm and content feeling inside, when you feel calm and relaxed whilst doing them. For me, some classic winter hygge activities would be going on walks and listening to a podcast ( or with family), reading in a cozy setting like by the fire, or cooking for /with someone I love. Hygge food is also a key part, they tend to be quite ‘hearty’ filling meals, not really like a salad or something like that, but if that’s your vibe and it makes you feel happy, then you do you- hygee is personal, not everything is going to evoke the same feelings in everyone! Any cozy activity that fills you up and winds you down can be thought of as a hygge activity. In the warmer months, as we are coming into spring now, there is alot of focus on getting outside and being within natural. Cheesy yes, but also very hygge! In 2016 bikes outnumbered cars in Copenhagen, and as we are learning from a Dutch concept here, we should be taking note of what the Dutch are doing. Get out on a cycle with your friends, cycle to a field and have a picnic whilst the sunsets- that in my mind is the definition of summer hygge! If you have a beach or a pond nearby you could go and spend your days there, focusing on being outside and off screens. I’m not sure if you gathered it yet but your phone is NOT hygge. Last year when it was really warm here in the Uk, me and my family sat and ate outside on our garden table in the evening, looking back it is one of my favourtie memories of the summer and coincidently one of the most hygge things I did. We have folding doors so we bought some chairs outside, opened up the folding doors to the lounge, and watched a film from outside! This sort of calm, warming evening activity is exactly the type of thing to do with friends or family to encorporate that cozy feeling in the summer.
Essentially, you need to become more present. If you want to try and incorporate the Dutch secret to happieness in your life, you need to slow down and live in the moment. This is very hard as it is not something many of us do, but the moments that I spend fully present, when my mind is not elsewhere overthinking something irrelevant, are some of the best ones, not to mention the most hygge. Try and focus on the little things in life. If you are on tiktok you will have heard that sound that goes ‘you have to start romanticisng your life…’ and I think to a certain extent that’s very true. It can be a problematic thing to say but, stop romantisicing the past and romanticise the present. It will help you live more slowly and greatfully. Enjoy the time in the morning where you pour your coffee, or when the morning light peaks under your blinds and casts a golden shadow above your bed, or when you sit down at the end of a tough day to pull out a book. Find these little moments you would have otherwise missed, and savour them. When I do this I find I’m alot more content and present, it grounds me and makes me remember what is important to me. If you struggle with staying present then journaling is a good thing to try, i find it calms me down and lets me unpack the day, and afterwards I always feel lighter and more present. Practicing gratitude is a huge part of hygge as well, as being greatful for everything around you can bring feelings of warmness and content, key hygge feelings of course.
That is all for my post today ! I hope you enjoyed this little introduction to hygee, and I hope it made you think about little things you can start doing to start intertwining hygge in your life. If you want to check out the book I read for more of an in depth hygge education, I’ve linked it here for you all.