Hygge is a lifestyle that celebrates living in the moment, finding beauty in simplicity and nurturing yourself and others with coziness.
Have you ever wondered how those Scandinavian countries with long, cold winters (up to 17 hours of darkness a day for months on end) manage to be the happiest nations in the world? Wonder no more, it’s the concept of hygge.
Hygge is a term used by the happiest people on earth, the Danish, and is pronounced “hoo-gah.” This Danish expression is an attitude towards life that emphasizes finding joy in everyday moments. Rather than dreading the cold seasons, hygge is about mindfully celebrating coziness, warmth and family — and honestly, I love it. It’s been defined as “intentional intimacy,” which can happen when you have safe, balanced and harmonious shared experiences. A cup of coffee with a friend in front of a fireplace might qualify, or a summer picnic in the park.
“Hygge happens when we commit to the pleasure of the present moment in its simplicity. It’s there in the things we do that give everyday life value and meaning, that comfort us, make us feel at home, rooted and generous.” – Louisa Thomsen Brits
Hygge House explains that hygge (or to be “hyggeligt”) doesn’t require learning “how to”, adopting it as a lifestyle or buying anything. It literally only requires consciousness, a certain slowness, and the ability to not just be present – but recognize and enjoy the present. If you don’t feel hygge, you probably aren’t using the word right.
According to London-based Norwegian author of How To Hygge, Signe Johansen, underpinning hygge is a craving for simplicity, an urge to pare everything back to basics. Jettison the anxieties and clutter of modern living to free up your time and energy to make the most of life.
In The Little Book of Hygge the concept is broken down into a manifesto which includes:
- Atmosphere – especially having the correct kind of lighting
- Presence or mindfulness (think switching off your phone!)
- Pleasure – treat smart food!
- Equality – we over me
- Gratitude – being thankful for what you have now
- Harmony – no place for competition or bragging
- Comfort – your surroundings
- Truce – no conflicts
- Shelter – a feeling of safety
Ways To Bring Hygge Into Your Home for Fall
Create a cozy hygge nook
Create a comfortable retreat in one corner of your house that you can relax at the end of the day. Make sure your chair is comfortable, with an ottoman and a side table to hold your books, journals and a cup of tea. Add blanks, cushions, low lighting and anything else that creates coziness in your little space. Take the time to nurture yourself from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Invite friends and family to your home
Fill your home and table with people. Inspire conversation in a relaxed environment with simple, healthy and hearty food. Fill your home and table with people. Inspire conversation in a relaxed environment with simple, healthy and hearty food. Make it memorable with family and friends. And finally, remove any time constraints — make the moment and experience last.
Spend time in nature
Embrace the seasonal contrast of going from summer to falls. Spending time outdoors will calm, rejuvenate, and remind you how very large and beautiful our world is. When we are close to nature we tend not to be so engulfed in technology and are usually in a more mindful and relaxed state.
There is something about nature. Hearing the sounds and breathing in the fresh air centers and grounds you. Slows you.
Take a roadtrip
A planned or impromptu trip to travel to the best places to see the changing colors of the leaves. Bring a picnic [with foods that celebrate the season] along so you can sit under the trees and watch each leaf drift to the ground.
Bring the outdoors inside
Bringing the outdoors inside expands your space to encompass the beauty of the world around us, bringing harmony to everyday lives. Decorate with with freshly gathered greenery, pinecones and fresh fall bouquets to bring the joys of fall into your home.
The warm glow and coziness of candles inspire hope, imagination and kinship. Fall fragrances- something spicy and earthy like Pumpkin pie, apple pie or Cinnamon-spiced vanilla.
Welcome the fall with your favorite pumpkin recipes, Pumpkin Bread, Pumpkin Crumb Cake Muffins, or maybe an apple recipe, Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies, using the apples from your day at the apple orchard. Fill your home with the quintessential aroma of coziness. Baking permeates your home with a feeling of well-being. And of nourishment.
Start a gratitude journal
Curl up in your cozy hygge nook and journal in your most beautiful notebook about all the things you’re thankful for.
Review your work life balance
The Danes have the best working hours in the world with most of them working around 30-35 hours a week tops. How does your work / life balance measure up? Now is a great time to reflect and see if you can make any tweaks to your lifestyle.
According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Denmark has a better work-life balance than any other country surveyed. Only 2 percent of employees regularly work very long hours, compared with the OECD average of 13 per cent. Instead, they spend around two-thirds of their day (16 hours) eating, sleeping and indulging in leisurely pursuits.
When you look at what is important to Danish citizens, jobs and income are much lower down the list than health, education, the environment and work-life balance.
A hygge tradition is cooking with others. Use cooking as a time to spend time with loved ones and cook together, especially children. Perfect for a rainy weekend afternoon!
Go to an apple orchard or pumpkin patch
Picking apples right off the tree is a fun way to spend the day. You can plan the day with your family or friends and then go home and have a cooking party to make the most out of your bounty. Apple pies, cider, applesauce and baked apples are just some of the ways to enjoy the spoils of the day.
Have a soup [or chili] night
Soups and chilis are ultimate in comfort food when cool weather arrives. Designate a soup night every week. Add a delicious salad and a rustic loaf of bread, and you have yourself a meal everyone will enjoy.
Drink a chai or pumpkin spiced latte
Embrace the flavors of the season with a warm drink. Bundle up, with drink in hand to go outside a take a leisurely walk.
Dig out the slow cooker
How nice it is to come home after work to a delicious meal ready and waiting in the slow cooker.
Light a fire
Fire seems to be a crucial hygge element. If you don’t have a fireplace, light some candles. Or have a bonfire outside. Leave your phones indoors and get even more hyggelig.
Play background music
Find your favorite station or playlist and play it during dinner, or while cleaning up afterward.
Enjoy face to face conversations
Have an actual conversation, in person, with a friend. Give a friend a call, or, even better, set up a coffee date. Give yourself time and space to really catch up.
Adorn your decor with autumn touches
As the seasons change you change your clothing types and colors. Why not do the same to your home? Diffuse fall inspired essential oils, add runners to your tables, throw comfy blankets over your chairs and couch, use pops of red, orange and yellow to your rooms. Decorate with gourds, apples, pumpkins and squash.
RELATED CONTENT: 10 Essential Oil Diffuser Blends for Fall
Hygge as an excellent form of self-care, especially during seasons when weather-related depression runs high. By embracing the indoors, welcoming others into your home, and taking plenty of time to treat yourself to little luxuries, hygge is the ideal way to help combat seasonal affective disorder.
To find out more about hygge I recommend The Little Book of Hygge, Making Winter: A Hygge Inspired Guide To Surviving the Winter Months and Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness.