How to Get Through a Miserable Winter With the Danish Concept of Hygge
For some, the
Hygge , which is actually a word of Norwegian origin , is pronounced "hoo-gah" and loosely translates to "coziness." But while coziness is a major piece of the puzzle, hygge is really more of an attitude or mindset. As Natalie Van Deusen , professor of Scandinavian Studies at the University of Alberta, puts it :
"The best translation is coziness, but not the physical coziness that you get when you put on a sweater or cuddle up with a blanket. It's more of a state mental balance and psychological well-being."
It's a feeling many of us feel when we go
Double Down On Coziness
It may not be the true definition of hygge, but getting physically cozy can still help. Basically, become an expert at hunkering down at home and getting as comfortable as possible. Reading a book by the fire with a hot drink is hygge. So is eating homemade baked goods while watching TV under a mountain of blankets. You can never have enough blankets, pillows, warm socks, hot drinks, or cuddling with your pet or significant other.
To achieve the ultimate cozy atmosphere,
, a lecturer on Danish language at Morley College, suggests you
mind the space around you
. It's best to avoid large, empty rooms, as well as spaces that
cold. Ditch the fluorescent lights and use other types of lighting to your advantage to make big rooms feel smaller and warmer. Meik Wiking, the author of
The Little Book of Hygge
, recommends you
light tons of candles
, use lamps with warm, soft-lit bulbs, and get a fire going in the fireplace if you have one. If not, even a TV with a fake fireplace video can help. It's all about transforming your home to match the aesthetics of the season so it feels like an impenetrable fortress of
Think of winter as your time to hibernate and your warm home as your bear cave. Use the winter as an excuse to do all of those things you've been putting off. Cuddle up on the couch and finally finish that book, stay under your covers and get through that TV show everyone has been talking about, or hop in the bath and listen to your backlog of podcasts. Do those things you won't have time for once the weather clears up and you want to go outside instead. I've been spending more time in my comfy bed, sipping great coffee, reading books, and playing Vita games I haven't finished yet.
Gather With Good Company as Often as You Can
The winter often dwindles the amount of time you spend with others. Harsh cold, foul weather, and dangerous roads makes gatherings and outings a hassle. But companionship and friendliness is an essential aspect of hygge, and the Danish believe maintaining strong social connections are good for the soul.
There are two ways to go about hygge-style gatherings. First, you can organize regular, relaxed meetups with
If you don't have a comfy home, you can have hygge-style gatherings in cozy restaurants, bars, cafes, or even bookstores. Don't let those comfy couches at the local coffee shop go to waste. My friends and I like boardgame cafes , where you can keep warm, have coffee, and play tons of games for cheap. And if you're on your own in a new place, the Lonely Planet Guide to Copenhagen suggests hygge participants don't even have to be people you know. Post up at a cozy cafe or bar and try to make some new friends.
Appreciate Winter Wonderlands In the Right Gear
I hate being cold and wet, so I don't like going out in the snow or freezing wind. And because of that, I've never invested in decent winter garb. Could it be that I don't enjoy being out in the cold simply because I've prevented myself from being properly prepared for it? If I did buy some nice winter clothes, and they kept me warm, maybe I'd actually enjoy it...
As Pia Edberg, the author of The Cozy Life: Rediscover the Joy of the Simple Things Through the Danish Concept of Hygge , explains, experiencing nature is an aspect of hygge as much as being cozy by a fire is:
As the old saying goes: 'There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.'
Just because it's freezing out doesn't mean you don't need a little activity, even if it's just a walk. Get a nice jacket, pair of gloves, boots, hats, snow pants, whatever you need to step outside and feel 100% comfortable. Again, not "warm enough," 100% comfortable. And when you do go outside, consider doing activities you can only do during the winter. It could be skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, sledding, or having a snowball fight. Try to appreciate the activities, sights, and sounds you can only experience during this time of year and you'll stop wishing it was summer already.
Slow Down and Find Joy In the Little Things
Not only is hygge about pursuing mental well being, it's about finding joy in the most humdrum aspects of life. Louisa Thomsen Brits, author of
The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Contentment, Comfort, and Connection
, recommends you find a way to make mundane tasks fun. Turn
daily to-dos into a game
make chores something to look forward to by treating yourself
let the mundanity of daily life be a catalyst for whimsy
. Hygge is as much about
Wiking sums up the essence of hygge as "the pursuit of everyday happiness." It's using the winter months to focus on the simple pleasures in life, strive for relaxation and comfort, and pursue togetherness on a daily basis. When you look at winter through a lens like that, it feels a whole lot warmer. Who knows? You might even start to miss winter come spring time.