Hygge may be a word you have been hearing more and more lately. It is so big that the website visitDenmark.com has a page specifically about the Danes and Hygge! But what the heck does it actually mean? And how do you pronounce it?
I first started hearing about ‘hygge’, which is a Danish word pronounced ‘hooga’ that essentially means ‘to be cozy’, or ‘coziness’, while watching a documentary called ‘Happy‘. The filmmakers visit places and people all over the world that are said to be incredibly happy, and they try to find out what makes these people, well, so happy.
As a side note, it’s a great documentary and one that I would highly recommend.
But I digress.
If you haven’t heard, the Danes are said to be some of the happiest in the world. Yes, Denmark. A place of long and dark winters. Of course, Denmark is known for more than their long and dark winters, and there are many reasons for why the Danes are so happy, but one of them is because of ‘hygge’.
In order to understand what hygge means (besides coziness) or is, I want you to think of a few things you love about, say, the transition from summer to fall.
Have some ideas?
- Cozy scarfs – hygge
- Warm beverages (pumpkin spice lattes, apple cider) – that’s hygge
- Walking amongst the colorful leaves – hygge too
- Visiting a pumpkin patch or apple orchard – yes, hygge
- Enjoying a good meal with family and friends – you guessed it, hygge
Hygge can be anything and everything that you find cozy, comforting, relaxing. I like to think of it as a way to bring happiness into your life. It’s about embracing the seasons as they come. It’s about enjoying what is around us during those seasons. Incorporating more of what is important to you into your life (for me, family/friends, spending time on hobbies, spending time in nature). Yes, even winter. Remember how I said Denmark has long and dark winters?
So, now that you know what hygge is and what it means, here are 13 ways to bring hygge into your life:
- Embrace the seasons – Don’t fight ’em, join ’em! I’m going to go out on a limb and unscientifically say that fighting and complaining about the weather and seasons is one of the quickest ways to reduce happiness in your life. I see this a lot here in Minnesota. There are people who love winters and people who can’t stand them and complain about them all the time. I’m not criticizing, I used to be one of the latter. But wow, I missed out on a lot of fun things to do in winter, and now I have come to enjoy those activities.
- Light a candle – Maybe I’m biased because I make candles, but candles = coziness in my eyes. Light a seasonally scented candle to really bring a relaxing mood into your home. Although I’ve never been, I hear that Denmark is known for their beautiful lighting with candles and low light lamps!
- Make a comforting meal – In Minnesota we call these hotdishes (essentially a casserole, but it’s not a casserole because it’s a hotdish), and they are yummy. Throughout the years I’ve tweaked the recipes I loved growing up to be a bit more healthy, but there is nothing like enjoying a delicious, comforting meal with my family.
- Warm beverages – There is something about warm beverages that are just so relaxing. Whether your drink of choice is coffee, tea, hot chocolate, etc, warm up a cup and sit down for a few minutes and relax. And yes, I even do this in the summer!
- Get outside – If you’re familiar with my posts, this one won’t come as a surprise to you. I’m a HUGE fan of getting outside and think it is so important for so many reasons. Go for a walk, explore a new park, etc. The possibilities are endless!
- Spend time with family and friends – this one is pretty self-explanatory but so important! Make time for these people!
- Comfy pants – For some people, this means yoga pants. For others, sweatpants. Whatever types of pants you are most comfortable in, wear them! Yes, even comfy pants are hygge!
- Decorate inside to reflect the seasons outside – Remember how I said embrace the seasons (pretty sure I said it more than once)? Hygge can mean decorating your home to reflect the outside. Maybe this means bringing in flowers from your garden or a farmer’s market, decorate with fall leaves, or a pretty bouquet of berries for the holidays. I have dried hydrangeas in a vase with river rocks I found, plants and succulents in my surroundings.
- Declutter – Woah, things just got a little more intense! I don’t necessarily know if the process of decluttering is ‘hygge’ but maybe if it brings you happiness it could be! Anyway, the point I’m trying to get at is to create a place where you feel relaxed and cozy. For some of us, excess stuff = stress/anxiety = not relaxing = not hygge. Lucky for you, I have a whole series on decluttering that you can check out here if you need help getting started!
- Unplug – I feel like ‘unplug’ has become kind of a bad word these days for some because many of us don’t necessarily want to. But the truth is, it’s very important to fully relax and for your mental health (I would recommend setting certain times of the day to unplug so you can fully relax). And, if spending time with family and friends, it’s important to be giving them your full attention.
- Cuddle under blankets – Grab a cuddle buddy (spouse, partner, kid, pets), grab a good book or put on a movie and just veg together! Extra pillows and blankets are a plus!
- Hobbies – Set some time aside for doing what you love to do. Spend time on yourself, or invite some friends over to have a craft/hobby/project night!
Although hygge may seem like a complicated word, it really isn’t. The definition (to be cozy) is actually very intentional and mindful. Embrace what is around you. It is that simple.
What are your favorite ‘hygge’ activities? What do you love most about ‘hygge’?