Hygge and Soul

JMB Living Hygge

 

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

Clothes hygge.png

 

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 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

While I don’t necessarily enjoy cold weather, I love the excuse that it brings to indulge my love for warm drinks. Taking a sip of hot chocolate, tea, cider, or mulled wine is like swallowing the feeling that hygge embodies. I also love soup and eng…

 

While I don’t necessarily enjoy cold weather, I love the excuse that it brings to indulge my love for warm drinks. Taking a sip of hot chocolate, tea, cider, or mulled wine is like swallowing the feeling that hygge embodies. I also love soup and engage with hygge in the process of happily cutting all of my vegetables and the slow cooking simmer of a homemade soup. If you have a favorite recipe from your childhood or comfort food, treating yourself by eating it occasionally is a wonderful way to indulge the senses in comfort. If you’re a traditionalist that enjoys authentic experiences, you could even look up hygge recipes for traditional Scandinavian comfort foods that Danes might cook themselves.

Living Hygge

Hygge

 

The other categories of hygge I’ve presented are fairly prominent, but sometimes the smallest bits of hygge can be where we need them most. A good way to utilize hygge in your everyday life is to take note of areas in your life that lack that feeling of warmth and comfort like a work cubicle or inside your car. Work desks and offices can be very draining spaces because of fluorescent lights and dull colors that create the opposite feelings that hygge invokes. Make your space your own by adding a plant or succulent, a wax warmer, or some motivational art prints. You could even bring one of your favorite mugs and some good tea or coffee to keep at the office as a pick me up. There are also a lot of small, but fun ways to personalize your car and make it feel like a comfortable space like putting a favorite essential oil on something absorptive to give you car fresh scent, adding decorative car mats, hanging a favorite personal item from your rear view mirror, or adding a picture of your pet to your dash. Little touches like these can help create hygge holistically in all areas of your life for special cozy moments to help get you through the day.

Have you heard of hygge before? Perhaps you’ve been practicing it without knowing that it’s a concept with its own term. I’m treating this week as hygge week because I will be featuring my favorite ways to create hygge in my life on all my social media platforms, and I’d love to learn your hygge strategies as well!

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