Want to stay cozy and happy this winter (instead of shivering through the cold months)? Try embracing hygge.
With hygge being such an embedded part of Danish culture, perhaps it’s no surprise that, despite winters with only six hours of daylight and temperatures dipping below -30 C (-22 F), the Danes are ranked as some of the happiest people in the world. Canadians can learn something from our fellow northerners about integrating hygge and embracing—rather than simply coping with—the long winter months.
1. Lighten up: Candlelight is a key component to bring about hygge, and the Danes burn more candles per head than anywhere else in the world. Make a habit of lighting a candle with your morning cup of tea or evening meal to start or end your day with some peaceful ambiance. Try soy or beeswax candles for a cleaner and more environmental choice.
2. Create a winter haven: When cold temperatures and shorter days mean more time spent indoors, making our home a winter haven becomes even more important. It comes as no surprise that the Danes take pride in creating a comforting space, and most Danish homes are “monuments to hygge.”
To get cozy at home, incorporate extra pillows and blankets in fabrics such as wool or organic cotton, cover bare floors with soft rugs, and layer window treatments to keep out chilly drafts.
3. Celebrate simplicity: Hygge is about experiences, not stuff, so it’s a happy time out from the rat race of consumerism. Find joy in simple pleasures, such as reading a good book, listening to your favourite album, or watching the snow come down outside the window while snuggling up under a cozy quilt.
4. Enjoy the outdoors: Being outside is good for our physical and mental health—a phenomenon that certainly doesn’t disappear during the colder months. In fact, spending time outdoors during the winter may be particularly important in protecting us from seasonal affective disorder.
To take hygge oum of a snow-covered landscape, can be incredibly rejuvenating. Follow any of the above with a restorative warm drink and you’ll be basktside, grab some friends, and try out some adventurous outdoor winter activities. Maybe some Snow yoga or Snow-ga. Feeling less adventurous? Bundling up and heading out for a walk in nature, soaking up the crisp winter air and muffled caling in hygge bliss!
5. Nourish: There’s not much yo-yo dieting in Denmark, and food is viewed as something to be savoured and shared.
Include seasonal produce like winter squash, beets, or Brussels sprouts for a meal that nourishes the body, is good for the earth, and pleases the palate.
6. Connect: When it’s blustery outside, we may be less inclined to make social plans. However, winter provides the perfect opportunity to “pull together at home and get hygge.”
To channel Danish-style hosting, try not to worry about your house being perfectly spotless or your menu overly glamorous (a simple pot of soup is the perfect cold-weather antidote). These details, which are truly unimportant in the grand scheme of things, interfere with the true meaning of hygge and get in the way of spontaneous gatherings. To take the stress out of hosting even further, make your brunch or dinner potluck-style, inviting your guests to bring a favourite dish to share.
7. Learn to linger: Hygge is not something you can achieve in a rush. Although it might be difficult for busy Canadians to embrace, dabbling in the art of lingering allows us to slow down, live more mindfully, and uncover many hyggelig moments we might otherwise pass by.
If your normal tendency is to jump up after a meal to start cleaning up, try instead to sit for a moment and appreciate the nourishment you provided your body. Lingering around the table with others, savouring a mug of tea or glass of wine, allows space for deeper conversations to unfold.
8. Practise gratitude: When the temperatures dip, we can find immense gratitude for the many ways we’re able to stay warm—a cozy home, a hot meal, or a steaming shower. Not all Canadians have easy access to these luxuries, and the winter months provide an opportunity to count our many blessings.
Write down three things you’re thankful for at the end of each day; research suggests that doing so can have a positive impact on our well-being and help us maintain a more positive outlook.
9. Yoga: Get on your mat. Investing in your mind, body, and spirit, is nourishing and grounding when the weather is blowing. It is also a great opportunity to spend time with community. Find the practice that resonates for you and show up.
For more on Hygge, you can visit www.alive.com