Once daylight savings time hits and the sun goes down before many of us can even get home from work, things may start to seem a little bleak. On average, Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SADs effects an estimated 10 million Americans.
But the Danes and Norwegians, with their months of darkness and cold temperatures are spreading the word of Hygge (hoo-ga) to help the rest of the world through the dark months ahead.
So what exactly IS Hygge? More or less, it means a sense of coziness. When you have as many dark months as the Scandinavians have, you need to find a way to embrace it (down comforters, anyone?). Hygge is a way to look forward to the cold months instead of just yearning for Spring. You know the feeling you get when there is too much snow to go outside and you’re curled up on the couch reading a book with candles lit and maybe a warm drink? That’s it. Or when you have friends over for good food and a few drinks and everyone is eating and drinking and enjoying each other’s company? Yep, that’s Hygge.
Here are a few main principles of Hygge:
Engage Your Senses-
Scented candles can also help create a warm atmosphere. Not only is the low flickering glow more aesthetically pleasing than harsh over head lights, but the scents can help transform your home as well. Whether its seasonal ones like pine or cranberry, or warm ones like vanilla and wood smoke, scented candles help deepen the atmosphere you’re trying to achieve.
Since Hygge is all about enjoying your time indoors, you probably want to clean up any clutter that’s driving you crazy before your hibernation period begins. While this may not sound fun, you’re going to be able to relax more and are more likely to invite friends to share the warm space you’ve created.
Enjoy Your Comfort Foods-
During the warmer months, a nice crisp salad can be exactly what you want but during the winter, we tend to crave something a bit heartier. And thats OK! No one is saying to avoid any vegetables, just don't beat yourself up over the cravings that come with colder weather. Enjoy your breads and pastas and stews. Make cookies with the family. Indulge in what makes you feel good.
Indulge In Your Hobbies-
Scandinavians often see this as a time to do the things they are too busy to do in the warmer months. Use this time to catch up on that show everyone keeps recommending to you or read that pile of books you’ve accumulated. Take the time to learn to knit or learn a new language with friends.
A key part of Hygge is spending time with friends and family. Instead of going out into the snow, invite friends over for a pot luck or family for a night of watching home movies and drinking hot chocolate. This is a time to slow down and enjoy the simple joys in life.
Don't Avoid The Outdoors-
There is nothing quite as pretty as freshly fallen snow. Bundle up, go outside, and play! Build snowmen, take a walk through a part of town that decorates for the holidays, walk down to your favorite coffee shop. Just make sure that you have something nice and warm waiting for you after!
Bring Hygge To The Office-
At home, you’re doing Hygge wrong if you don’t get candles involved. It’s safe to say, however, that most offices wouldn’t really be understanding though if you’re creating a fire hazard in the name of feeling cozy. Instead, consider the cute little flameless candles or maybe even string up some holiday lights. Nothing is going to counter that harsh fluorescent light, but it may help with ambiance.
The Scandinavians have another tradition that’s catching on called Fika. Calling it a coffee break would be a gross understatement but that’s the general idea. Time away from your desk spent with a warm drink (traditionally coffee), a flaky pastry, and a nice mental break in the day. The concept also works very well to create the cozy mood of Hygge. Bring in specialty coffee beans, keep your favorite tea at your desk, pack a special snack, and step away from your desk. It can transform even a ten-minute break into a more relaxed afternoon.
Bring a little home to the office. Use a decorative pillow to support your lower back or toss a cozy throw over the back of your chair.
There are more ways to scent a room than candles alone. Bring in a reed diffuser or a USB port essential oil diffuser. Sit out a bowl of potpourri, or make some lavender sachets for your desk. It helps with the smell of stale coffee and microwaved lunches.
This is a tradition centered around enjoyment, simplicity of living, and coziness. Even if you aren't Danish, everyone can certainly use a bit more Hygge in their lives.