Hygge and Soul
A few years ago, I stumbled across a little book in an airport called “The Little Book of Hygge” by Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. Hygge (pronounced hue-guh) is a Danish word that describes the concept of an achieved comfort and coziness. Because English does not have just one word that articulates this feeling, I have done my best to adopt hygge into my own life in its authentic form. The Danish believe in indulging and acting in a manner that creates hygge. This concept is rooted in tangible things that produce physical sensations that impact the reward center of the brain by producing oxytocin and dopamine. These chemicals are produced by enjoyable stimuli related to being satisfied in relationships, socializing, and in a physical space.
This intention to create hygge, accelerated this year when I started home renovation and working from home. I was grateful to use this concept that can make me feel more at home and peaceful by intentionally creating hygge in my space and implementing it in my lifestyle. I like to remember hygge when I am having a stressful or overwhelming day to help indulge my body and brain in a comforting feeling of joy by wrapping up in my favorite sherpa throw and making a cup of my favorite tea. In a year like 2020 where we spend so much time in our homes, they truly serve as our sanctuaries—and hygge can help create that sacred feeling of comfort we could all use so much right now. Especially as the winter months approach, people struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder, and external conditions become harsh and cold, I believe practicing behaviors that create hygge can help us brave the winter with some added moments of peace.
In “The Little Book of Hygge”, the author categorizes ways to engage with hygge as atmosphere, presence, gratitude, harmony, comfort, pleasure, equality, togetherness, and shelter. I wanted to share with you all some of my favorite places to implement hygge by categorizing it into home, food and drink, clothes, and surroundings.
Wrapped in Hygge
As I mentioned earlier, one of my greatest sources of hygge is cozying up in my favorite sherpa throw. And my daytime home wardrobe is pushing the limits on cozy these days too. I have worn pair of flannel lined jeans that get alternated with other fleece and flannel lined bottoms. And when I choose what shirt to put on in the morning, I look for the softest fabric hanging in the closet. Since we keep our home a little on the chilly side in the winter, I often wrap myself in a long sweater for a second soft layer as I drink my morning cup of tea. Children have security blankets, and I know many adults have a clothing equivalent that they wear when they need a little additional comfort. Wearing your favorite cozy garment pleasures the touch sense and can create dopamine, which is one of the contributing physical effects of hygge. I also have a wide collection of soft comfortable socks that I like to wear around the house. I’ve pretty much abandoned being fashionable at home with my soft oversized layers, comfy pants, and patterned socks in exchange for internal and physical comfort, and that’s okay. Living hygge and the joy it brings can be a good look all on its own.
Hygge at Home
Hygge is so easy to take into account when implementing it in your home. Where do you go in your home when you need respite? Is it the kitchen, your bedroom, a sunroom, your bathroom? Now what is something that relaxes you? Do you read, bake, play a vinyl, paint, tend to plants? These are basic elements of hygge that you can add into your favorite spaces to increase the joy and peace you feel at home. I love gardening, so I grow herbs, vegetables, and flowers in a little backyard garden and along the walkway in the front of my house. As I remodel my house, I am intentionally taking notes of things I seek for hygge and including opportunities to feature them throughout my home. Hygge in your home does not have to be exclusively visual, either. If you read or love music, you could create a book or vinyl display with some fairy lights and a candle by your favorite chair; now that area can be your hygge refuge. Smell and functionality play a large part in hygge too. Burning your favorite incense/candle or diffusing your favorite essential oil blend when you need an extra element of hygge is a great way to immerse all of your senses into a hygge state.
Hygge and Food