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Can "Hygge" Help You Beat The Winter (and Pandemic) Blues?




Are you looking for a way to beat the winter, as well as pandemic, blues? If so, you may want to look in hygge.


Pronounced hoo-gah, “this is a Danish lifestyle approach that embraces sensory experience, intentional community, and all things ‘cozy,” explains Joan Eileen Atkinson, Founder of SpiritHouse Holistic Interiors. “With their long, oppressively dark winters, hygge has developed into somewhat of a national coping mechanism for the Danes, used to fight off isolation, depression, and SAD (seasonal affective disorder).”


Hygge is so important to being Danish that it is considered "a defining feature of our cultural identity and an integral part of the national DNA," says Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen.

"In other words, what freedom is to Americans. . . hygge is to Danes," Wiking says in his book The Little Book Of Hygge.

But, what exactly is hygge?


“It’s been defined as ‘coziness of the soul,’ ‘the art of creating intimacy’ and even ‘cocoa by candlelight,” writes Nancy Walecki for Yale Daily News. “Hygge can be a noun, verb, or adjective (the adjective for it is ‘hyggelig’). Although it comes in many forms, hygge at its core is about finding indulgence, relaxation, togetherness, and gratitude in life’s everyday moments.”


And, while this is a Danish concept, there are ways for anyone to live a hygge lifestyle no matter where you live in the world, such as:


  • Softening your lightning by switching to lamps with a warm low-wattage bulb or string lights during the holidays.

  • Surrounding yourself with candles. Lots of candles. Best of all? It doesn’t matter if the size or if they’re scented or not.

  • Wearing comfortable and cozy clothing, such as your “hyggebuskers.” This is the Danish word for pants that you love, but would never wear in public.

  • Surprising your senses. For example, when you take clothes out of the dyer, feel how warm they are and how amazing they smell.

  • Mindfully indulging in comfort foods, like having a cup of chocolate or coffee and eating pasta and pastries.

  • Calling a friend or family member that you haven’t talked to in a while.

  • Putting your phone away so that you can be fully immersed in a book or playing a board game with your family.

  • Doing something nice for someone else, like donating money, sending a care package to a friend in need, or removing the snow from a neighbor’s walkway.

Ultimately, hygge is all about finding contentment in life’s simple pleasures at home and in the outside world. Whether if that’s sitting by a fireplace reading, having dinner with your family, or going for a long walk through the woods. The idea is to appreciate the little things that bring you joy.


But, is hygge really effective? Well, Denmark is regularly ranked as the happiest country on Earth. So, there may be something to this. It’s certainly worth a try during this challenging holiday season.



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