Hygge: combating the Winter Blues with coziness

Christmas is over and the winter weather feels less magical and more burdensome.

Between the icy roads and frosty temperatures, it can be easy to fall into a dreary and dismal mood, struggling to find motivation to start the semester. Without the holidays, what’s the point of all the cold? Well, the Danes have a solution for this: a part of their culture and lifestyle called hygge.

Pronounced “hoo-ga,” or “hue-ga,” this is one of those words that doesn’t quite translate into English, but roughly means “coziness.” Denmark is ranked as the happiest country in the world, and they attribute hygge as one reason for this. As a way to survive the dark and dismal Scandinavian winters, they embrace hygge and thread it into their everyday lives. While our winters are not the sames as the Danes, we can learn a thing or two from them and embrace hygge into our own lives.

So how does one hygge exactly?

A large element of hygge is atmosphere. Having warm lighting, not bright fluorescents – but rather using Christmas lights, candles (not allowed in dorms, but you can get fake ones), and perhaps a well placed lamp – is a way to create a great cozy feel in a room. A fireplace is also very hyggelig (“hoo-ga-ly” meaning “hygge-like”). If you don’t live in a place with one, there are some videos on YouTube you can put on a computer or T.V. that can add that hygge factor to a room. Get some cozy blankets and pillows, and you’ve got a hygge haven.

Hygge isn’t just about the feel of the room, but also the activities. Step one is put away your phone. Part of hygge is about living in the moment, being content in the present. Being on your phone will almost always take you out of the present, so turn it off, put it away, and enjoy the moment. Board games, watching movies, crafting, and reading are all hyggelig. Hygge is also about embracing togetherness and enjoying time with loved ones, so while you can totally hygge alone, hygge-ing with friends is always better. Invite friends over for a hygge party, pour some warm drinks and enjoy all the hygge things.

Baking is a very hygge activity. While healthy eating is good, sometimes it can be burdensome and difficult to always keep up. Hygge embraces hearty eating – and yes, maybe a little bad eating – but food you can enjoy and eat with friends. And because cooking and baking keeps you in the present, it help reinforce the hygge ideals of contentment.

Not a homebody?

Hygge isn’t just limited to the home, but can also be enjoyed while working.  While you may not be able to turn the Student Center or the Library into a hygge haven, find a place there that you feel is comfortable and warm. Bring a mug and make yourself some tea or coffee while you are out. Wear a big scarf that could double as a blanket in a pinch. Find little ways to bring hygge into your study patterns.

Hygge also is not just an indoor activity. Taking a walk and enjoying nature, disconnecting from the world for a while, holds fast the contentment of the present as well as appreciating the natural and simple. Go somewhere without Wi-Fi and just enjoy life.

Embracing hygge can be done through big changes or little ones and can all be done through your preferences. The concept of hygge is flexible to who you are and what you feel. The Danes have incorporated hygge deeply into their lifestyles, even having a special word for hygge sweatpants (“hyggebusker”- a pair of pants you would never wear outside, but are secretly your favorite).

If you are interested in learning more about hygge, Meik Wiking’s  The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living is a great book which goes in depth about hygge and how you can incorporate it into your life.

So as you try to survive the dreary winter, add some hygge into your life, and see how a bit of coziness could enhance your life.

Danielle Crowley is a Staff Writer for The Daily Runner.