Imagine that you are in the mountains in the winter with a cup of coffee, a book, a blanket, and a fireplace right next to you. Your favorite song is playing, and you feel completely relaxed and happy. The magic of this moment stems not merely from your location, but from several comforting and nurturing elements converging at the opportune time. This is reflected in the Danish concept “hygge” (pronounced “hoo-gah”), which refers to wellness and contentment: it’s the feeling we may have when the place, decoration, company, and time are exactly what we need. It’s achievable on an everyday basis, not just when we are enjoying ourselves in a wintery mountain retreat. Let’s see how we can incorporate hygge into our lives.
Linnet defines hygge as “a civilized mode of behavior that other people find easy to get along with, one that soothes them and builds their trust; a house that, while not splendid or overly stylish, is respectably clean and well-kept”. It sounds appealing, right? That is why Danes use the term in every possible way: Hygge is a noun and a verb, and it can also be used as an adjective. As a verb, it is used in the reflexive form at hygge sig (to hygge oneself), and the adjective form is hyggelig (hygge-like).
The way we decorate our home and how we make use of it will partly determine the way we feel while spending time inside. The Danes spend a lot of time inside and their social gatherings usually happen at home, mostly due to the weather. With this tendency to hunker down indoors, it is essential they create pleasant spaces. Danes keep their environments calm, avoiding bright colors to create a peaceful environment. Candles are by far the most used decorative element in this Scandinavian country. As soon as night falls, Danes light a candle. The cozy, warm candlelight is essential to the concept of hygge. Another characteristic feature is a little corner of the house deliberately decorated and dedicated to cozy moments. Hygge is mostly shared with family and friends; Danes reason that surrounding yourself with the people closest to you in a peaceful environment will create that special feeling of wellness and happiness.
Dedicate a day for your hygge
We may typically find ourselves immersed in busy routines, both in our personal and professional environments. However, finding time to enjoy what makes us feel happy is essential to our wellbeing. While we can do this a little each day, occasionally plan for a whole day to reset and feed your need for comfort. Set aside personal and professional concerns for that day, and focus on listening to what the body and mind need at that precise moment. If you honor these needs, you will not only experience a refreshing break from the usual grind, you will also feel calmer and better prepared to manage stress, even after you return to your usual activity. Furthermore, you may be inspired to make changes to your home and routine, creating more room for hygge in your everyday life.
The importance of light and plants
Sunlight increases levels of energy and joy, and a bright home creates a healthier environment. Studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased risks of deadly cancers, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 diabetes. Decorating and furnishing in white and pastel colors will reflect light, brightening a room. At nighttime, lighting candles and turning on warm lights can add warmth.
Plants are another essential component for Danish homes. Houseplants add cheery color and visual texture. They also reduce carbon dioxide and release oxygen while serving as natural humidifiers. Some varieties like spider plants and peace lilies can even help reduce indoor air pollution by filtering toxins like formaldehyde, ammonia, and carbon monoxide. Studies have demonstrated that indoor plants have indirect unconscious psychological effects on task performance, health, and levels of stress. By having plants at home, we can also enhance our connection with nature.
The connection between a clean house and a relaxed mind
A clean house will provide benefits for both your mind and your body. While cleaning a living space, our bodies and minds are active. Cleaning is also a productive way to get a bit of exercise while at home. One study shows that the condition of someone’s residence drives more physical activity than improving the sidewalks, lighting, and other elements of a neighborhood. Once the house is clean, our minds tend to relax and feel more satisfied. We may even be inspired to start another energizing activity. A clean house is also helpful for our sleep; clean bedsheets and a tidied room will create a more comfortable environment, reducing stress and anxiety. Additionally, try opening the windows to let the fresh air in once in a while. This eliminates mold growth and helps keep your home relatively free of dust. Be mindful of toxicity when buying household cleaning products and avoid using synthetic air fresheners or using outdoor shoes indoors. Consider adding filters for drinking water, diffusing essential oils, and washing bed sheets and towels often. When our environment is clean and free of clutter, our minds are more productive and focused.
Ultimately, a nurturing and inspiring environment creates the opportunity for greater peace and potential within ourselves. Remember, you can always adopt “hygge” by simply dedicating time to discover what makes you feel calm and happy at home. With candles, plants, a cozy corner and good company, you will surely have a good start.