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Hygge: 5 Things You Need to Know

Although it’s a warm and cosy word, hygge was borne by the harsh and cold Scandinavian winters. It came about when people would retreat to their homes, bundling up and getting cosy together as they prepare to face the biting cold outside. This is perhaps why the concept of hygge has been gaining popularity all over the world in recent years. The weather can have adverse effects on our mood and wellbeing so it’s vital that we get creative in finding ways to relieve stress and recuperate from the rigors of a busy life.

Pronounced as hoo-gah or hue-gah, there is no one definition in English for the Danish word maybe because it’s too big a concept to confine in one. Hygge itself rolls off the tongue nicely and feels even better too. It is closely associated with comfort, cosiness, togetherness, personal wholeness and wellbeing. As a whole, it is a way of life, a way of thinking, a way of looking at the world, more than anything.

In this article, we bring you the five top things you need to know about the Danish concept that is hygge:

1. More than a buzzword

It’s defined as a word or phrase that’s trendy and although some people might call it one, hygge is most definitely not a trend, therefore it’s more than a buzzword. It’s a concept that has been around longer than we’re aware and more and more people are becoming more cognizant of the idea as time goes by. Once something is embraced and practiced, it becomes a lifestyle instead.

 2. A year-round affair

Although winter is the peak season for hygge given its main focus is cosiness and comfort on top of togetherness, you can still hygge whatever the weather.

Think about how you can get cosy and comfortable with friends and family in summer or any other season. Bike rides at the park, dining al fresco in the backyard as well as running around town in flip flops and tank tops and traipsing around the pumpkin patch, among other things. There are many ways to hygge all throughout the year.

3. Better when shared

Most people will say that hygge is all about candlelight, textured linens and knit jumpers as well as being cooped up indoors, having a relaxing and cosy “me” time. Conversely, hygge is also big on togetherness given that it was primarily conceptualized around spending time with family and friends for warmth and comfort.

If you think hygge is a great excuse to try your hand at being a seasonal hermit, spend more time with friends and family instead. It doesn’t have to be a rambunctious get-together filled with drinks, feasting on food and singing off-key. Hygge can also be about spending time in comfortable silence with the people you care about as well as building relationships and cementing bonds through face-to-face interaction.

4. Get creative

Imagine a time before the internet and social media. What would you do to pass the time?

Hygge is all about exploring avenues to refocus the mind and disconnect from the noise of the world. If you ask us, nothing can be more relaxing and calming than baking or cooking or crafting – anything that removes us from our daily life involving technology and electronics.

Explore this concept one weekend: switch off your gadgets and put them away in a locked drawer, pick up a new hobby or re-acquaint yourself with an old one and allow yourself to get lost in the moment. Shutting off the world even for a short while can be one of the best things you can do for your wellbeing.

5. Simplicity is key

Hygge is an indulgence in itself as it encourages being content, being present in the moment and enjoying everything, no matter how big or small. You don’t have to rush out and buy tons of stuff to help you hygge, though. Enjoying a bubble bath, getting lost in a good book or even a freshly-baked pastry is hygge as are simply slowing down, drinking in all the sensations and being comfortable to just be without worrying about anything at all.

Despite what critics may say, hygge is not a magic word that transports you to paradise where worry, fear and anxiety does not exist. Hygge, especially in these modern times, is a way to retreat from the weather, and the world, if you will. It’s a way to rekindle thawed relationships, revisit old friends and recuperate from the cares of daily life. 

Max Ehrmann probably says it best in Desiderata, written in 1952. He said:

“Go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence.”


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