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It seems everywhere I’ve turned in the last few weeks, I’ve run across articles about the Danish term, hygge (pronounced “hoo-guh”.) But what is hygge, and why do we need it so much? I’d venture to say you need it right now. (I certainly do.)
First a translation and a bit of a definition. The closest translation we have in English is “coziness.” The New Yorker describes hygge like this: “It derives from a sixteenth-century Norwegian term, hugga, meaning “to comfort” or “to console,” which is related to the English word “hug.” Associated with relaxation, indulgence, and gratitude, hygge has long been considered a part of the Danish national character.”
What is Hygge (A Simple Guide)
So how does this idea of coziness translate for us? Well, you don’t have to look too far to realize we live in a pretty fast-paced and stress-filled world. Even if you try to simplify, it constantly feels like you’re going against the flow to do so.
Winter is the ultimate time for hygge as the days are shorter and the weather is colder (in most places.) The produce for the season is naturally heartier—sweet potatoes as opposed to the feathery greens of summer—and we tend towards slower activities as well. It’s kind of like we naturally tend toward a sort of hibernation during the colder months of the year, and hygge embraces that tendency.
To get started with your own hygge practice, there’s a tiny bit of planning involved. I’m not talking about setting aside a day to plan for additional coziness and relaxation in your life, but at the beginning of the week, grab a cup of coffee (or homemade hot cocoa) and jot down some ideas of what you could do to unwind. Put them in your calendar. It is much more likely that you’ll follow through when you take a moment to think of what you’d actually do. It’s the equivalent of putting out your shoes for a run the night before.
I’m writing this during one of most snowy winters on record in Oregon. When we moved here, we were assured it only snowed once (if that) a year, so not to worry that there weren’t snowplows in our city. And they were right until this year. I don’t even know how many snow days we’ve had. I say this only because we’ve had forced hygge at my house because we’ve been trapped at home, haha. That said, I’ve come to really enjoy these laid-back evenings where we drink hot cocoa and draw and play games. I know, games. What is this world coming too? ;)
How to add hygge to your day . . .
Light a candle.
Pour a hot cup of something delicious.
Read a chapter in a book.
Make a fire in your fire place.
Have a conversation.
Write a letter.
Fill one page in your sketchbook with doodles.
Turn on some music, and listen.
Draw your day.
While I’m making dinner at night, I’ve been mixing together a quick bowl of muesli for myself so it can soak overnight in the fridge. I had forgotten how much I love this Danish treat. I don’t measure anything out and my “recipe” is Americanized but it is basically old-fashioned oats, chia seeds, cinnamon, plain yogurt, almond milk, and a chopped apple.
This simple ritual means I have a delicious ready-made breakfast in the morning so I can have a little time to read and wake up to my day.
I don’t know about you, but I like to slowly wake up. It’s a little hygge moment to start my day.
What are some ways you can breathe deeply and enjoy your life? Is there something small you can add to your day that will encourage your soul to relax and be mindful?
The more I write about hygge, the more I keep on thinking about taking mini-retreats. :) Small moments add up. The little things do count.
I also like how many aspects of hygge speak to community. A common sharing of something together. It’s that collaborative drawing I made with my daughter this morning. It’s making the marble maze even cooler than last time. It’s working together to make a castle out of Legos that includes a couple of staircases and platforms. ;) It’s conversation and laughter and doing the things that don’t look like they matter. Except they matter a lot. Maybe more than we’ll ever know.
Hygge is in it’s essence, memory-making. It’s not contrived. It’s not stressful. It’s simply living.
And that’s a beautiful thing.
I hope you have a lovely, creative, and relaxing day!