It's not surprising if you associate hygge with winter. It's meant for winter, after all. Hygge is a Danish concept designed to use rituals and mindfulness to create a feeling of coziness and comfort. It helps combat the negative feelings we might experience during times of extreme cold - especially feelings of loneliness and isolation from being stuck at home.
Being stuck at home seems rather relatable these days, doesn't it?
Whether you're dealing with cold, short days, mandatory self-isolation, or a new work-at-home routine, being home a lot limits our social contact and makes life more dreary.
That’s when hygge can be a magic wand, bringing joy back into your life.
What Exactly IS Hygge?
Hygge (pronounced hue-guh) is a way of life. (Other Scandinavian countries have similar lifestyle customs that go by other names.) The concept of hygge isn’t restricted to the winter months. It can be practiced year round. But it’s particularly helpful in combating the country’s harsh winter weather and short days.
In the depths of winter, Denmark only gets seven hours of sunlight a day. That could have an adverse effect on the mental health of Danes since a lack of sunlight can contribute to Seasonal Affective Disorder. And yet, Denmark is consistently ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world. Hygge has a lot to do with that.
At her Hygge House blog, Alex explains that hygge was created as a way to survive the “boredom, cold, dark and sameness” of the winter months. Hygge is about acknowledging “a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cosy, charming or special.” Mindfulness is key to hygge, with an emphasis on not just being present but on finding joy in the moment. Alex goes on to explain that:
Another definition of hygge is “an art of creating intimacy” (either with yourself, friends and your home). While there’s no one English word or simple definition to describe hygge, several can be used interchangeably to describe the idea of hygge such as cosiness, charm, happiness, ‘contentness’, security, familiarity, comfort, reassurance, kinship, and simpleness.
How Do You Hygge?
Hygge is about making the ordinary special, by practicing mindfulness and by ritualizing everyday activities. It’s also about creating a feeling of coziness, by restricting the amount of empty space around a person or group of people. The end result is a feeling of contentedness.
You can create and experience hygge by doing things like:
- Making a cup of cocoa--or a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade--from scratch and enjoying that beverage while doing nothing else.
- Creating a reading nook lined with cozy throws and plush pillows - and using it to read actual books (not your phone!).
- Using candles for lighting, to create the feeling of a smaller, cozier space.
- Lighting a fire for the same lighting effect and for warmth.
- Getting together with friends at each other’s homes to share home cooked meals and play board games.
- Curling up with a pet.
- Celebrating the outdoors, by actually getting outside and enjoying the crisp winter air or by bringing outdoor elements (plants, natural wood) indoors.
And, of course, since this is a blog for Sohospark, you knew this one was coming too: writing in a cute notebook is an excellent way to experience hygge.
Journaling and Hygge
When you think about it, journaling is all about hygge.
When you start jotting things in your writing journal, you’re naturally mindful of the moment, highly attuned to your thoughts and feelings as you jot them down. But, as I explained in another blog, you can increase your mindfulness by:
- Practicing stream of consciousness writing;
- Writing yourself a letter, where you let go of any judgment towards yourself and instead shape the letter as if you were writing to a dear friend; or
- Using a writing journal to record moments of gratitude.
Hygge is about gratitude--being grateful for the moment and finding joy in it. By keeping a writing journal specifically for gratitude, where you recall and reflect on what made you grateful, you become more mindful of those moments when they happen.
Ritualization and Coziness
If you don’t already have rituals, including writing in a cozy space, doing so can increase your feeling of hygge. For example, writing first thing in the morning, with a fresh cup of coffee, while you wait for the rest of the house to wake up is hygge. Writing in the evening, with lit candles and a glass of wine, is also hygge. Using a writing journal with a meaningful cover, that makes you pause and reflect before opening it--like Sohospark's Compass Rose journal--can be part of a journaling ritual. Lighting a candle or meditating before beginning or listening to music while you write, are also ways to ritualize your journaling. Wearing fuzzy socks or slippers, keeping the lighting low, and having a fire burning can increase your feelings of coziness too.
But, don’t forget: hygge is also being around people. If you prefer to journal in a coffee shop, that’s also hygge. Enjoying the outdoors on your way to the cafe, sitting in the same spot each time, pausing while writing to consciously enjoy your steaming beverage, are all part of hygge.
Bullet Journals and Hygge
Megan at Page Flutter uses her bullet journal as a place to brainstorm how to infuse her life with hygge. She points out that her hygge spread isn’t actually a checklist so much as “a good jumping off point when those winter blues hit.” And since journaling is hygge, just the act of making the spread contributed to her feelings of joy and contentment.
What About You?
What do you do to infuse your life with hygge? Do you ritualize your journal writing? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this blog. Drop me a comment below.