Hygge: How We Can Adopt This Cozy Danish Lifestyle In the Ongoing Pandemic
A few years ago, the Danish concept of Hygge (pronounced hue-guh) trended across the internet in a big way. Out of seemingly nowhere, people across the globe were interested in this lifestyle; a lifestyle that explained how Danish people were the happiest in the world despite bunkering in their homes through winter with little daylight for months on end.
Sound familiar? Well, a lack of daylight isn’t a huge issue in Lebanon, but given the fact that we’re now one full year into this pandemic and still in lockdown, the general idea rings true. So, given our continued situation, I decided to revisit the concept of Hygge and how its core tenets could translate into our pandemic narrative.
The concept of Hygge is defined by Oxford as “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).” And this is something that, when done with mindfulness, can seep into every area of our lives.
Throughout the pandemic, we published quite a few articles on how to holistically care for ourselves such as Finding Hope & Community in Times of Despair: Resources for Support in Lebanon, How to Practice Holistic Self Care during Covid-19, Dealing with Children Going Through Trauma, Questioning (and Deepening) the Narrative of Resilience, 4 Ways to Manage Fear and Anxiety In An Uncertain World (And Why You Need To), 6 Alternative Healing Modalities To Support You in This Time, and so many more.
Yet, now that we’re 11 months into this reality, I wanted to reiterate the importance of keeping good habits and making new ones where necessary. To take stock of what has and hasn’t worked for us over the past year.
I first heard of Hygge when I saw a woman — Helen Russell — speak at a travel conference I went to a few years ago (remember travel? remember conferences?). Helen was promoting her book “The Year of Living Danishly” in which she took a deep dive as to why Denmark consistently ranks as one of the happiest countries on the planet, despite being on a relative lockdown every winter with minimal daylight.
Using Helen’s case study as a guideline, here are some key Hygge takeaways that you can use to help you get through our continued lockdown:
Activate Your Senses
Every single day, make a point to be mindful of each of your five senses. Stand in a window and feel the sun on your face. Taste the comfort of a freshly baked muffin. Smell your favorite candle or incense. Focus on the sight of the tree just outside your window, or of the clouds rolling by. Listen to the cars on the street, the birds chirping, or the sound of rain as it hits the earth.
Take small moments to just soak in your surroundings and appreciate all of these little things.
Seek Out Pleasure
Further to the point of being mindful, the Hygge lifestyle reminds us to seek out pleasure in life, no matter how big or small. We may not have the comfort of our loved ones at the moment, but we can still see them over video chat. We can bake ourselves a pastry and eat it slowly, enjoying every crumb. We can take five minutes to watch our children, or our pets, play.
In lockdown, it’s so easy to get into “Groundhog’s Day” mode, where every day feels the same, and there is always stress lurking in the background. But actively seeking out pleasure in any safe, positive, ways we can, is a great way to add a little balance back into our lives.
Is there a mode of creativity that you’ve been meaning to “get to” forever but haven’t yet brought yourself to do it? Well, now’s the time. Whether you’re being drawn to paint, play music, create videos, write, bake or whatever else, there’s nothing like the cozy feeling you get after you’ve created something from scratch.
Load Up on Texture
Another key tenet of the Hygge lifestyle is to incorporate texture into our lives — in particular, coziness. More than just activating your sense of touch, this is about making your home an inviting place and pleasing to the eye.
Make sure your coziest blankets are kept handy at all times, curl up into your throw pillows, bring nature into your home wherever possible (hello plants and garland), and at the end of a long day, have some clean comfy clothes waiting for you to change into.
Further to the texture point, Hygge is very much a concept based on atmosphere. Instead of keeping your space cold and uninviting, use some tricks to make it as warm for your senses as possible. Light candles while you work or read, switch on your salt lamps for an added glow, and clean up your surroundings so everything is in its right spot.
Basically, use whatever you already have around you to make your space atmospheric.
Make a Hyggekrog
Translating to a “cozy nook”, a Hyggekrog is essentially a small place in your home that you deck out with all the cozy things. For example, you could move a comfy chair by a window to curl up in as you drink your coffee or tea, watch the rain patter outside, and read a good book.
There are endless ways to design a Hyggekrog, but it’s important to keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to go out and buy anything new to create this. Simply use what you already have in your home, even if it means a little rearranging.
Assess Your Stressors
Lebanon has gone through tremendous stress in the past few years, and while it’s always crucial to band together as a (virtual) community in these times, it’s also important to take stock of your personal stress level on a daily basis.
Whether you get professional help or do the work personally, don’t forget that in order to make space for all the tenets of life, you first have to take care of your nervous system and traumas. More than just a key factor to enjoying Hygge, remember that a full-bodied, holistic approach to self-care is one that will help the most in the long run.
Look After Others
Further to that point, and one that we’ve reiterated on The Wellness Project many times, is that one of the best ways to look after ourselves is to look after our communities. Donate how you can, make a point to video call your loved ones, and reach out to people who might need an extra virtual hug.
The only way to get through this is to do it together.
Thanks for reading all about how you can introduce some Hygge ideas into your life! As the pandemic rages on, remember that you are not alone and that we continue to write these articles to connect with you all. If you have any comments about Hygge, please leave them in the comment section below — we love to hear from you!