What is hygge and how to pronounce it
It’s the buzzword of the moment, but as the nights get longer and darker and whisperings of “shh, Christmas” start to creep into our daily lives, the Danish concept of hygge (“hue-ga”) is becoming increasingly appealing.
As well as a particularly beautiful sweet pastry dessert offering, the Danes are famous for boasting the happiest workforces in the world alongside one of the most favourable approaches to family life. Yet it’s their unique approach to cosy simplicity that we’re coveting the most. It all comes down to an appreciation of the quiet, the cosy, the everyday; valuing and cherishing the simpler things in life.
So put the kettle on, dust off that blanket and snuggle up on the sofa to read our three top tips for making your life – and your home – that little bit more hyggelige:
1. Set aside time for you
In our increasingly busy lives it’s hard to ensure that we get a good amount of “me” time. While the importance and benefits of sleep are widely acknowledged, attention is turning to whether or not we’re getting enough rest and what exactly rest means; according to the BBC’s recent report, two thirds of us would like more of it. It’s important to schedule time for rest and rewarding activities.
For starters, the Danes typically start and finish work earlier, from around 8am-4pm (understandable when you consider how early it gets dark in the colder months). The earlier start – coupled with a desire to head home for quality time with loved ones – means they’re fairly strict about leaving work on time, setting clear boundaries between professional and personal time. Adopt the Danish approach: work intensely during the day then clock off on time for drinks or dinner with family or friends.
If, however, putting the hours in at work is unavoidable, you can still be hygge – you just need a bit more discipline. Pencil time into your schedule – even for just an hour or two – to curl up with a good book, indulge in a crafty hobby like knitting or just relax in a hot bubble bath (no checking emails on your phone while you’re in there!). If you spot a gap in your diary, make a date with yourself rather than anyone else and eventually carving out those precious hours for yourself will become a habit.
2. Set the scene – create your hygge sanctuary
In order to create inner calm, you need to have the right environment in which to relax. Ever heard the phrase “tidy home, tidy mind”? It’s not just about keeping your home clean but about removing the mess and clutter that can lead to stress and anxiety, whether you remove it yourself or ask a local cleaner to work their magic.
When creating your ‘hygge sanctuary’, think soft, warm and spa-like. You want your home to be a space that makes you feel good. If you’re not lucky enough to have a natural fire in your home, you can still create that warm glow with candles. Scented candles are also a great way to bring another dimension of cosiness to a room.
Bringing the outside in can help you relax – think bunches of flowers with berries or willowy branches on display to help you reconnect with nature.
3. Set to some self-indulgent activities
How you choose to rest is really up to you; think sipping on hot mulled wine with friends or discussing your latest read over hot chocolate, to more singular pursuits such as yoga or meditation.
There are a couple of simple rules to try to stick to. Most importantly – get cosy (this is an excellent opportunity to indulge in those new pyjamas) and ensure plenty of comfort food and drink is on hand. Hygge mentality means being warm and comfortable which necessitates plenty of hearty food: think soups (with some warm bread), stews and rich sauces.
We’d also recommend staying away from technology. Yes, step away from your mobile phone! Hygge is all about relishing the moment and appreciating what you have, which means removing yourself from the distractions of modern technology.
There are no shortage of studies on how screen time at night can have a negative impact on our sleeping patterns. The light wavelengths emitted from digital screens upsets the body’s natural preparation for sleep, causing it to release cortisol (a stress hormone) instead of melatonin (the hormone which causes us to feel less alert and more sleepy). If you can’t face tearing yourself away from your tablet yet, take a look at these tips for using screens at night, but always avoid screens directly before bed.
Don’t forget to savour every moment, appreciate the time you have and bask in the positive effects it has on your mental wellbeing.