With fewer hours of daylight and falling temperatures, winter can be tough for many people. Sure, there are many holidays and festivities to look forward to, but they can also come with an overwhelming amount of busyness, and the anticipation can be emotionally and physically exhausting.
This season, give yourself a break and maybe boost your happiness by following a Danish practice higge,
Hygge literally means- well, there is no direct translation in English! But it is a feeling of comfortable comfort, gratitude and well-being. Pronounced “hoo-ga” or “hui-gah”, it is a common practice in Denmark to slow down the pace of life and prioritize enjoying simple pleasures such as close family and friends, food, nature and relaxation.
Denmark is known for being one of the happiest countries in the world, and hygge may be part of the reason. With average winter temperatures just below freezing and only seven hours of sunshine every day in December, Danes use this time to relax and enjoy what they have.
history of hygge
The word Hygge comes from the Norwegian language, where it means well-being. It was first seen in Danish writings in the 18th century. The concept of hygge fits well into Danish culture, which embraces genuine connection and a laid-back approach to life.
Although the concept of hygge originated in Denmark, an article published about it in 2015 triggered increased worldwide coverage. Later articles and books about hygge followed. In 2016, the word hygge made the Oxford Dictionaries shortlist for word of the year. It was defined as “a quality of calmness and comfortable sociability that produces a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining feature of Danish culture).
As the idea of hygge became more popular around the world, it became more commercialized. Broadway production of the musical frozen Contains a song called Hygge – ensuring that future generations will be well aware of the concept. Lifestyle stores promote furniture, blankets, candles and other items to make the home more clean. Still, the original meaning of the word focuses on enjoying what you have, not necessarily the need to get more.
In addition to being a newly accepted word in Scrabble, hygge can be used as a verb, adjective, and noun.
Ways Hygge Can Help Happiness
While the practice of hygge sounds good, can it really make you happy? Everyone is facing different stressors and situations. However, hygge coincides with the concepts of well-being and happiness.
Connection is essential to hygge, and good social relationships are a key predictor of happiness. Hygge is the perfect solution year-round, especially in winter when people are less social and can feel more isolated without activities with close friends.
An important part of hygge is gratitude, an appreciation of what you have. Research shows that gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness. According to Harvard Medical School, “gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, enjoy good experiences, improve their health, cope with adversity, and build stronger relationships.” Practicing hygge provides regular opportunities to appreciate the people and things around you.
Comfort is another aspect of hygge which translates to well-being and happiness. Taking time to slow down and relax from overloaded schedules reduces stress, boosts creativity and productivity, and helps with decision making. Instead of waiting until burnout occurs, Hygge creates built-in downtime.
adding hygge to your life
If you don’t think you’ve practiced hygge before, there’s no need to FOMO—you probably have! Think back to the last cold, dreary day when you and your bestie sweated all day, piled on blankets, binge-watched a Netflix series, and talked about anything and everything. Maybe it was when you had game night or Friendsgiving with some of your favorite people. Or when you went on a nature walk with your puppy, appreciating the open space and the chance to breathe fresh air.
There are many ways to hygge. But it’s not just about activity; It’s about intention and attitude. Because hygge is such a part of Danish culture, people hygge intentionally and consistently. They allow their schedules to include downtime and appreciate the restorative aspects of hanging out with friends and family. And they don’t do this only on special occasions. They do it weekly.
Mick Wiking, CEO and author of the Happiness Research Institute the little book of hyggeHighlights the central principles of Hygge:
- Get together with a few close friends in a relatable environment. The Danes believe the ideal number of people is three or four.
- Enjoy good food and drink. This could be a simple meal at home, a local coffeehouse, or a casual and relaxed restaurant.
- Disconnect from digital devices and distractions to enjoy the moment. This includes leaving work on time to be with family and friends, and turning off email and social media when you are with people.
- Dim the lights Candles are an important aspect of creating a hygge atmosphere.
- Wear comfortable clothes. Now is not the time for suits and heels. Think soft sweats and thick, warm socks.
- Have a hygge spot in the house where you can light candles, snuggle up under a blanket and sip hot tea, coffee or cocoa.
While hygge is often practiced indoors, it is not just as well in winter. A brisk walk or run outside, a snowball fight, or ice skating with friends are great ways to high. Activities such as picnics, barbecues, canoeing, and camping are popular in the warm season.
Although hygge can help improve happiness, it is not a substitute for psychological support. Yet, with its many benefits, practicing hygge can help make this winter a little brighter, warmer and more fulfilling!
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.