Seasonal changes, whether it’s Autumn to Winter or Spring to Summer, can often feel like a major shift in not only nature but mindsets. But we are striving to wash away those Winter Blues and Sulking Summers with a change of mindset using Hygge. And though we are focusing on the shift into Winter for the Southern Hemisphere, I encourage those experiencing warmer temperatures to tune in as Hygge is an all-year way of living.
Hygge (pronounced as hoo-gah or hue-gah) is a Danish word originating in the 1800s, the perfect translation has never been agreed upon, but there are plenty of ideas and traditions that capture what this way of living is. Including the idea of cosiness, comfort, plenty of candles and blankets. This might sound familiar to you as it was rather popular in America and the UK in 2016-2017 (It can be argued that this was a commercialised version of Hygge). But Hygge isn’t something that is seasonal, it’s not a product or an advertising campaign for a furniture company. It’s a way of life.
So what is Hygge?
“It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down” ~ Miek Wiking.
There are many elements of Hygge that are brought together in a variety of definitions. The oxford dictionary defines Hygge as “the quality of being warm and comfortable that gives a feeling of happiness”. Others define it as the ability to be present, whilst also enjoying being present. Along with Miek Wiking’s definition, we have a mixture of very similar ideas that instead of working against each other, mingle. It’s about positivity, appreciating what we have, feeling cosy, safe and loving in our homes with not just ourselves, but with others.
So how can we practice a mindset of positivity and joy in a Winter that often seems bleak and uninviting?
To begin with, we don’t deny what is happening in the world. The hurt, anger, injustice and frustrations are still there, but we don’t take it with us 24/7. We take moments, sometimes days, to allow ourselves to heal, to relax and grow in our own way. Hygge aids in this by allowing us to embrace the small moments we have. Even ones that might be considered mundane.
Hygge is about what we have in abundance: The everyday ~ Meik Wiking
How to practice the Hygge Mindset
Though there are plenty of items, rituals and delights that can help in practising Hygge, we will be starting with what everyone has. Themselves. The attitude, mindset and the ability to be present are all part of Hygge, and will aid in getting through rough winters, or finding more positivity in hot summers.
Live in the moment, but also allowing yourself to appreciate the moment. It might sound hard, but it’s much easier when you switch the phone off and start paying attention to what’s happening around you. Take a moment to smell your tea or coffee, taste the food you consume, feel the textures of the cloths on your body. What’s happening in your body? How are you feeling? Take a moment to enjoy the bliss of just being.
2) “We” over “Me”
Togetherness a big part of Hygge. Being able to spend time with family and friends, whether it be inviting them over for a meal, going for a walk, playing board games or watching a movie. Spending time with loved ones is also about sharing, not only food and experiences but chores and tasks. Everyone is a part of what happens, from the beginning to the end, and it’s always a joy to be able to help.
3) Ditch the Drama
You can’t deny all that is happening in the world, and it should be acknowledged. But when you carve out time with friends of family (particularly those you don’t see often), you want to be able to connect and create memories rather than get dragged into yet another argument on politics or current events. We know these sorts of tense tennis matches of opinions have no winners (and can become quite ugly). So put the politics, gossip and drama aside and enjoy what you have. Remember the good times and create good memories.
4) Take Time for Yourself
As much as being with others creates warming experiences, it is rewarding to have those moments with yourself. To be able to think, breathe and know yourself a little better. Whether it’s reading, taking a bath or treating yourself to something nice. Make sure you have time recharge and take care of yourself, before facing the world.
5) Being Grateful
It’s easy to compare yourself to others. Looking at other people’s lives on social media can be discouraging and frustrating, but life isn’t a race. Life isn’t a competition. We all have our paths to run and they are all as unique as we are. Let others lead their lives, and allow yourself to appreciate what you have. Find time to be grateful for the small things. Being able to pour a cup of tea, the luxury in a block of chocolate, the delight in a sunrise and the comfort of warm clothes. Be grateful for all you have and become richer for it.
Physical Elements of Hygge
Though Hygge is a mindset, there are plenty of objects and activities that are Hygge in nature. Technology is not considered Hygge, but things that create comfort and love are. These are not objects that you need to race out and buy, but rather things you may have lying around the house.
Lighting is a crucial part in setting the mood and candles create a beautiful natural light that contrasts the harsh unnatural glow of fluorescents. Reading, eating or talking in candlelight is wonderfully calming, and very Hygge. Beeswax candles are better for you, but any candle lying around the house will suit nicely. If you are worried about having an open flame near young ones or pets, you could always use fairy lights to create that low, comforting light.
2) Blankets and Pillows
Comfort is key to Hygge, being able to snuggle in a warm blanket with the comfort of a few pillows, sets a perfect day of reading, relaxing and simply being.
3) Food and Drink
There’s nothing quite like treating yourself to a hot drink, a piece of chocolate or an even bigger piece of cake. Nothing too fancy, and preferably something homemade. It’s not about gauging yourself with sweets, but appreciating the flavours, textures and love that goes into homemade delicacies.
4) Books, Board games
When it’s cold and blowing outside (or nice and warm in the sun), a good book will surely help you pass the time and escape into a new world. So stop making excuses and finally read that novel that you’ve been meaning to read for the last few months. And when Friends and Family come round, put the book away and bring out the board games. With the rise of board games in the past few years, it’s so easy to find something that will suit the whole family. Fun, nostalgic board games that bring out the smiles and laughs, nothing too serious.
As you might have guessed Hygge takes simplicity into its being. It’s not about fancy equipment or banquets of food. Less is more, appreciate what you have. So don’t stress about finding the perfect candle, blanket or book. Use what you have and embrace the experience.
For those embracing the warmer months, the same sort of activities and items can be applied. You can also embrace barbeques with friends, picnics in the park, bike rides and days at the beach. As long as it taps into something that feels warming to the soul and is simple, you can find plenty of things to make your season Hygge.
This all-round mindset of being grateful, appreciating the small moments and the simple everyday rituals that we have, is something that will wash away the Winter Blues and Sulking Summers. Whether it’s making tea, reading a book or spending time with loved ones, there are plenty of ways to live the Hygge life this season. No matter how little you may have.
Written by Iley Jones
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