A roaring fire is hygge. A warm, hot chocolate is hygge. Spending time with friends and family is hygge. But what exactly is this ‘hygge’ we’re talking of…?
Hygge (pronounced ‘hoo-gah’) is the new wellness trend that is EVERYWHERE at the moment. From interiors to food, books to wellbeing, hygge is here and it is going to make you very happy. Originating from Denmark, the Danes have been practicing the principles of hygge for over a hundred years, and it’s only now that the UK wants in on this lifestyle.
What Is Hygge?
Picture the scene…
It’s a cold winters evening. You’re sat in your living room, a wood fire crackling in the background. Your family are sat around playing a board game, or reading books together, occasionally sipping on steaming mugs of marshmallow topped hot chocolate. This idyllic image is hygge in a nutshell. It’s that ultimate feeling of happiness and contentment with the good, yet simple, pleasures in life.
Mindfulness has very much been at the forefront of wellbeing trends in more recent times and hygge is kind of an extension of this. It’s that glowy feeling you get inside when you do something nice for someone, or that feeling of ease and contentment with yourself; the simple joy of being you.
With the clocks due to go back next weekend, the nights drawing in and the weather slowly getting colder and colder, we could all do with a bit of hygge in our lives. So, we’ve put together our top tips to hygge up your lifestyle!
10 Step Guide to Hygge Happiness
I’m sure you’ve all got a favourite jumper, right? The one that’s a bit too big for you, has gone a bit baggy in the wash, might have little fluff bobbles on it and maybe the odd stain or two down the front? Well, that’s not exactly the image of hygge we were going for, but you kind of get the idea.
To pull off the hygge look you need to be cosy, comfortable, warm, yet still look fantastic. Investing in good quality knitwear, whether it be cashmere, lambswool or, if you prefer, synthetic, is a fast track way to hygge life. Think oversized jumpers, long cardigans, scarves, big baggy socks, wristwarmers and snoods, there’s nothing like wrapping yourself in reams of knitwear to feel as though you’re giving yourself a ginormous hug! We absolutely adore the beautiful, handcrafted designs from Kate Box Knit, which truly epitomise what hygge is all about.
Us Brits are renowned for our love of tea and for very good reason. Got a family crisis? Pop the kettle on. Long over due catch up with friends? Pop the kettle on. Hard day at work? Pop that kettle on. In fact research has shown that the simple act of sitting down with a cuppa has been prove to help reduce stress levels and make everything seem right in the world again. And whilst the act of drinking tea isn’t entirely hygge, pour it into your favourite cup and saucer and all of a sudden you’ve ‘hygged’ it up!
Not a tea drinker? Don’t worry, because pretty much every hot drink can be hygge.
Hot chocolate made from real melted chocolate, cream and milk, lovingly stirred over the hob and poured into chipped tin mugs and topped with more cream, marshmallows and chocolate shavings – that’s hygge.
Rich, spicy, aromatic homemade mulled wine served in glass mugs and adorned with a stick of cinnamon and a clove infused orange slice – that’s hygge.
Freshly brewed coffee, poured straight from a cafetière into earthenware mugs and shared with friends over a plate of pastries – that too is hygge.
Drinking is a social thing and the perfect opportunity to catch up with friends, chat with the kids about their day or cuddle up with your partner on the sofa. But it is also considered hygge if you want to enjoy a warm drink on your own; just make sure you’re wrapped in knitwear, in front of the fire, with a really good book on your lap (second hand is best for ultimate hygge points) and ideally you want a purring cat sat on your lap – stroking animals is incredibly therapeutic don’t you know!
Thanks a Bunch
Yes, I know it seems incredibly indulgent, but how good does it feel when you buy flowers for others? So, imagine how even more amazing it should feel when you buy a bunch for yourself. There doesn’t even need to be a good reason, just simply do it because. Flowers help cheer the soul and the mere act of placing flowers around the home helps lift the spirit, visually please and help brings nature into the home (another hygge rule – see below). Don’t try and justify to yourself why you need flowers, don’t worry about what the husband will say and certainly don’t worry about the cost (picking wild flowers or homegrown flowers from the garden is even more hygge!), just delight in the colours, scents and form of the beautiful blooms that now decorate your home.
In a similar vein to knitwear, hygge is all about cosy fabrics and textures. As much as you need to think about what you’re wearing, it is equally as important to think about how your living space ‘dresses’.
Bedrooms should be warm, cosy dens in which you can’t wait to hibernate – think piles of scatter cushions on the bed, soft quilted throws over the back of a chair or end of the bed, and deep, fluffy rugs that are a delight to first step out onto as you leave the warmth of your bed in the morning.
Living rooms should be a mix of faux fur blankets, rich velvet curtains and knitted cushion or hot water bottle covers; Anthropologie do a great range. In fact, whilst we’re on the subject of cushions, just bung those babies everywhere, because cushions are so hygge. Surround yourself with fabrics and colours that you love to help you feel safe, secure and at ease with your surroundings. There’s nothing more calming than your own home and so to create a space that makes you feel positive, inspired, motivated and content, is the absolute best way to embrace your inner hygge.
Light up your Life
Light plays an incredibly influential part on our mood, so it’s important to use light in the home in the right way. It’s good to create a warm, welcoming, positive atmosphere and there is no better light source than candles to achieve this. There are so many different candles available on the market, but we personally have a soft spot for Diptyque and Jo Malone, although if you’re on a slightly tighter budget you really can’t go wrong with a good old Yankee Candle who have some amazing Christmas inspired scents. You could also make some DIY candle holders by placing tealights inside mason jars, these look great outside, or in the hearth of a fireplace.
Or, if you’re worried about the potential fire hazard, the next best hygge option is fairy lights. These sparkling strings of light aren’t just for Christmas, you can drape them around mirrors, mantelpieces, over piles of logs, around door frames or even wrapped around bedframes; we’ve got star shaped ones on ours 🙂 And don’t for one second think that fairy lights are tacky, because OK yes there are some fairly nasty ones out there, but there are also some incredibly stylish ones out there too.
Choose your theme, choose your colour and set those fairy lights a twinkling.
Bring the Outdoors In
The Danes live a very active, outdoorsy lifestyle and this is also reflected in their homes. Decorating your home with accents of nature for example neutral, earthy tones, lots of wood and stone, along with decorative touches such as pine cones and logs helps bring the outside in. Because let’s face it, sometimes it really is just too cold to venture outside and those Danes really know about that! To hygge up your home you’ll need a well stocked pile of logs; essential for that roaring fire or woodburner, a wreath or garland or two; pine cones, berries and woodland things are best, fir cones in vases or fireplaces; with a string of fairy lights for optimum hygge, and plenty of sticks of pussy willow and birch.
Get your Bake on
Hygge is very much about enjoying the good things in life, but also taking the time to appreciate them; not rushing and ultimately being more mindful. We all know the estate agent trick of brewing some coffee or baking some bread before a potential buyer looks round a property; smell is a powerfully evocative sense and can be enough to persuade us into making decisions we may not have otherwise made. Us Brits differ from most other European countries in that we tend to have more feelings of guilt when it comes to our relationship with food. We worry that eating a slice of cake will harm our diet, or having a croissant for breakfast will send our day into a spiral of bad eating, but the old adage of ‘everything in moderation’ has never been more true.
To truly be hygge you must allow yourself that slice of carrot cake when you meet a friend for coffee, have a chunk of white crusty bread with your soup at lunchtime and yes you are allowed a pain au chocolat if the feeling so takes you. But what is more important than anything else is that you enjoy each and every mouthful of it.
And if you want to ramp the hygge rating up a whole notch then you need to get baking, because making your own bread and cakes is both therapeutic; kneading dough is the best stress reliever we can think of, and sociable; get your family involved so that you can bake and talk at the same time as well as having fun in the kitchen so that any barriers surrounding food are completely broken down.
A full tummy is a happy tummy and that is hygge!
Surround yourself with Loved Ones
Although it may seem as though we’ve rattled on about objects, hygge is not all about the material things in life, in fact the ultimate hygge lifestyle is one that involves spending time with those you love most. Whether it’s family, friends, children, or even pets, the warmth and happiness that comes from surrounding ourselves with the people we laugh with, feel at ease with, those we can talk openly with and perhaps most importantly, those whom we feel we can be ourselves around, is the essence of what hygge is really all about. Gone are the days of families sitting around a fire sharing jokes, telling each other made up stories or playing music together, which is a shame. Now we rely on TV, social media, phones and other electronic devices to do our socialising and that really is not hygge. So, if you want to truly, truly lead a hygge life you are going to have to make a few sacrifices. Who’s up for it?
Did you ever build indoor dens as a child? When it was a rainy day, we’d often be found under the table propping spare blankets and sheets over the backs of chairs, before snuggling down with a torch, a book and if we were lucky some jaffa cakes. Making dens/nests/cubby holes, whatever you want to call them is ultimate hygge. You’re creating a small, secure and snug space that we’re certain Freud would explain as our desire to return to the womb. It is essentially about creating a microcosm of the home; a home within a home so to speak. And there’s nothing more hygge than spending time with loved ones doing activities together that bring joy, laughter and create lots of happy memories. Top den building materials include:
- Throws, Blankets, Old Curtains
- Cushions – always cushions!
- Clothes airers
We’d love to see pictures of any dens you create, so please send us a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll feature you on our site.
You can also follow us on Facebook (@thisishealthyliving), Twitter (@ArtHealthLiving) and Instagram (@arthealthyliving). Post us your comments to let us know who you’re ‘hygging’ up your life 🙂