Have you heard of hygge? We’re sure you have, as it’s seen a huge surge in popularity over the last few years. But in case you’ve missed it, hygge is a Danish word that isn’t really translatable to English. Roughly translating as ‘cosiness’, it isn’t a thing, exactly, but more of a feeling or an experience.
Pronounced ‘hoo-gah’ in English, hygge stems from Old Norse, and it can be a noun, a verb, or an adjective. Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and author of the best-selling book The Little Book of Hygge, says that hygge is “the overlooked ingredient in the recipe for Danish happiness”.
For two years running, Denmark has come in second only to Finland in the World Happiness Report, so it seems like hygge really could play a part in becoming happier!
It’s not just Danes who can experience hygge, though. Have you ever lost yourself in a good book whilst curled up in front of the fire? Or have you enjoyed a cosy candle-lit dinner with a loved one? Sipped on coffee whilst catching up with good friends? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then you’ve enjoyed hygge without even knowing it!
It’s all about the feelings of warmth and contentment you experience during such activities, and the enjoyment of simple pleasures. As the temperatures drop, the days grow shorter, and we continue to spend more time indoors, there’s never been a better time to adopt this Scandi-inspired philosophy — read on for ten ways to bring hygge into your home this winter.
1. Get cosy with candlelight
One of the quintessential components of hygge is candles – Meik Wiking even calls them “instant hygge”. Denmark is the biggest consumer of candles in Europe, burning through a huge six kilograms of candles per person every year!
So for true hygge, go crazy with your favourite candles. There’s no such thing as too many candles when it comes to creating a warm, cosy glow in your house, and clustering them in groups of 3-5 creates an ambient pool of light that’s just right for a snug night in.
2. Create a hyggekrog
Roughly translated as a ‘nook’, a hyggekrog is simply a cosy corner where you can get away from it all. It could be a window seat where you sit and watch the world go by, or a comfy couch with piles of blankets and cushions.
Whatever your hyggekrog is, it should make you feel instantly calmer whenever you spend time there.
3. Bring the outdoors in
It’s no secret that getting out into nature is a great way to de-stress. But sometimes in the depths of winter, you might find yourself venturing out a little less than usual.
But you can still get a hit of happiness by filling your space with houseplants, as studies have shown that they can reduce stress levels and boost your mood as well as improving concentration and productivity. Can’t keep plants alive? Dried flowers are a beautiful, long-lasting alternative!
4. Create a communal space
Spending time with loved ones is key to hygge. And whilst we might not be able to meet in large groups at the moment, there’s nothing more hygge than having a couple of good friends round to share a bottle of wine.
Create a communal space that’s inviting, whether that’s a long dining table, or lots of comfy chairs in which to nestle down for an evening of good conversation.
5. Marie Kondo your space
Take a look around your home and remove any clutter. Hygge is all about contentment, and feeling comfortable in your home is a big part of that. Scandinavians favour minimalist home design, but that doesn’t mean that your space has to be free of keepsakes.
Simply take stock of what is meaningful to you – if something doesn’t spark joy, then is it hygge? Having a clear-out can be a great way to create a home that you actively want to spend time in, something that’s especially important over the cold winter months.
6. Pile up the blankets
Cosiness is the very essence of hygge, and what could be cosier than a stack of blankets? Whether you’re curled up on the sofa reading, or having a home movie night with your significant other, having blankets on hand to reach for when you get chilly will help the atmosphere stay hygge.
7. Eat, drink, and be merry
From pastries for breakfast to decadent desserts, and from rich stews to spiced mulled wine, food and drink is a big part of hygge. There are still lots of restrictions on eating and drinking out this winter, but you can recreate that hygge feeling at home by indulging in good mood foods.
Eat and drink whatever you fancy as the nights draw in and the days get colder – that’s true hygge.
8. Switch off from technology
Whilst it’s not necessarily the textbook definition of hygge, turning your electronic devices off for an evening can go a long way to creating that cosy feeling.
Switch off from the world for a couple of hours and get stuck into a good book, or dim the lights and listen to your favourite album from start to finish. Turning off all notifications and ignoring your phone for an evening is sure to improve your wellbeing, which is really at the core of what hygge is all about.
9. Create a signature scent
Whether it’s with candles, wax melts or diffusers, filling your home with scent is a must for any hygge home. Vanilla, cinnamon, sandalwood or citrus – whatever your favourite wintry smell is, fill your home with it for instant calm and contentment.
10. Let the hot drinks flow
Be it mulled wine (glogg to the Danes), hot chocolate, or a fresh morning coffee, take the time to savour every sip. This is at the root of hygge, enjoying the little things in life.
It can be all too easy to knock back a cup of coffee as you open up your laptop ready for a long day at work, but taking five minutes to enjoy it in your hyggekrog can make all the difference to how content you feel throughout the day.
So whether you’re working from home, or having friends round for a catch-up, make sure the hot drinks are always flowing.