Call me crazy, but winter is one of my favorite seasons. It’s a perfect opportunity to cozy up and embrace hygge. Let me show you how to hygge.
I’ve always had a fascination with Nordic life and style – the interiors that are all crisply white, the beautiful snowflake-like patterns, the monochrome grey outfits, the obsession with coffee, the beautiful blonde people and beautiful blonde furniture (IKEA), and the meatballs. It’s no wonder that the Nordic region (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) is at the top of so many quality-of-life studies.
You may or may not have heard people talking about “hygge” lately. It’s recently become popular, but the concept is not new.
“Hygge” is a Danish/Norwegian word that requires many English words to describe it’s meaning. It’s an action, a state of being, and a mindset. It means finding comfort in the simple joys of life, a feeling of coziness and warmth. It means switching off the electronics (it’s okay, you can finish reading this first, ha), and finding contentment from a simplified life. In the busy world we live in, filled with many distractions, it’s a chance to reconnect with friends, family, and with ourselves.
I’ve actually been practicing hygge for awhile, long before I’d heard the term. I called it my winter hibernation. Everyone has their own individual interpretation. There are no rules on how to hygge. It’s a reminder to live your life to the fullest.
Here are a few examples of how I embrace “hygge”, and how you can try it too.
Let go. Many of us have a tendency to needlessly complicate everything. I have a tendency to overthink and over-analyze. Resist that temptation at every opportunity—you will feel liberated, I assure you. There is a freedom found in relaxing, letting go of the clutter in our heads, and meditating on the stillness of the moment. This is embracing the hygge mindset.
Relaxation at home. Picture this. You arrive home and immediately get into your comfiest, warmest pajamas. You slip on some big socks or slippers. You make yourself some herbal tea or pour yourself a glass of wine. Light some candles or soft tea lights to surround yourself in a warm glow. You curl up in your favorite chair or corner of your sofa and snuggle with your cat and dog (children and husbands count too). Just relaxing at home and finding solitude in little comforts can restore and refresh. This is embracing the hygge feeling.
Cooking with Paul – When I come home from work, sometimes Paul has already started dinner (I know, I’m lucky!). I really enjoy when we cook weeknight dinners together and talk about our day. Pour a glass of wine while we’re cooking and take our time. No rush and nowhere else to be. This is quality time, without distractions. Saturday morning brunch with Paul is also another favorite moment. He makes the best omelettes and french toast! Food and drink are at the heart of hygge.
Celebrate conviviality and togetherness. The Swedish also have a tradition, called fika, or coming together over cake and coffee. It’s the almighty Swedish coffee break. In their culture, it’s time with friends to slow down and enjoy the moment. I love coffee dates with friends, and baking something sweet at home when we have company.
Small adventures in the wild. Time to play outside and breathe in that crisp winter air. Even in the winter, it’s so important to make the time to be active every day. In our society, exercise is so closely tied to losing weight and looking good. Hygge is more about feeling good, rather than looking good. Inactivity is worse for our longevity. My grandmother is about to turn 102 years old (yes, no typo there). Her secret? Walking every day.
Wonder why the Nordics are so happy, even though they live in such a dark, cold region? They understand that happiness can be found in simplicity. They free their minds from worry and anxiety, they remove the clutter of modern living, and make time for the important things – being kind to ourselves and those around us.