Gone are the days of endless holiday eating and festive movie watching… We’ve left Christmas and New Year’s behind. We’ve welcomed 2018, set New Year’s resolutions, and have just started to get back in the grind of work and school. As we’re settling in and coming to terms with the fact that we still have a few more months of long and dark winter days, it can seem daunting, and even impossible, than ever. The cure? The concept of hygge. Defined as, “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being,” hygge may very well be the remedy to this dull season that helps the Danish get through tough, Scandinavian winters.
Hygge has been around for a while now. It has long been considered a part of the Danish national identity. However, it was properly introduced to the international audience last winter. You’ve probably heard of it too – it was considered as one of the finalists for The Oxford Dictionaries’ 2016 “word of the year.” For a ‘trend’ we seem to have left in 2016, hygge still offers a lot to learn from.
Hygge is both a mental and physical state of being, and is here to help us all get through below freezing temperatures.
- The Mental State
The most important thing about hygge is that there is no one specific way of doing it. It doesn’t require learning “how to.” All it requires is an appreciation of the slowness that comes with winter, and an ability to enjoy the present. You can think of it as a form of meditation – it’s about acknowledging the moment and the state of mind that comes with it. Just as there is no right or wrong way of creating and appreciating cosiness, security, comfort, and familiarity, there is no right or wrong way of being hyggeligt. Whatever gives you happiness and reassurance by helping you focus on what would bring you a better quality of life, is hygge enough.
- The Physical State
Hygge is also commonly referred to as the act of “creating intimacy,” either with yourself, friends, or your home. This intimacy is usually attained through creating simple routines. Think of it as intimacy between yourself and your life. Whether it’s drinking green tea from your favourite cup every evening, or stopping at your local bakery once a week, these rituals serve as important parts of hygge that you can incorporate into your daily life without much effort. Hygge becomes a natural extension of your life, rather than a forced and unauthentic experience. No matter what they end up being, these rituals will help you become aware of a good moment and foster a meditative state of mind, which is what hygge is all about.
Hygge can be found in your living room, in a mulled glass of wine you’ve made with your friends, in that flower shop just around the corner you walk by everyday, or in the woodsy heat of a sauna where everyone is free and naked.
There is a reason why Danish doctors recommend “tea and hygge” as a cure for the common cold in Denmark. It’s good for the body and the soul. Hygge offers it’s practitioners an escape from the dullness of the fast-paced everyday life. Go on; hit the pause button and take a deep breath. You’ll see why winters are more than just bad weather and wet socks. There’s a certain kind of joy and nobility that come from learning to appreciate the present, no matter how cold and icy it may be.