Contributor: Vanessa May
You’ve probably come across Hygge in recent years, thanks to the numerous magazine articles and books written on the subject. Maybe it isn’t too surprising that this Danish phenomenon has captured our imagination, as it can undoubtedly feel like a comforting proposition in the midst of our stressful modern lives.
Basically, Hygge is a rather abstract concept but is generally taken to involve creating a relaxing, cosy atmosphere and enjoying good things such as candlelight, warming drinks, soft textiles, curling up with a book, log fires and eating comforting food.
Apparently, Danes created hygge because with so many cold, dark, days, the simple act of lighting candles, a cup of coffee in the morning in a favourite china cup or a home cooked evening meal with friends or family could really lift the spirits.
Hygge also involves a conscious appreciation and mindfulness of the present moment. By creating simple rituals such as enjoying some good quality chocolate or buying some beautiful flowers, the Danes lift their domestic and personal lives above any feeling of every day drudgery. Perhaps hygge explains why the Danes are thought to be some of the happiest people in the world!
So how can Hygge help us Brits transcend our often stressful lives?
As a Nutritional Therapist and Wellbeing Coach, I’m always encouraging my clients to nurture themselves, whether it’s enjoying delicious and nutritious food or investing in some much needed ‘me time’, perhaps with an aromatherapy massage or practicing mindfulness. All these things could be classed as Hygge in that they are feeding the body and soul and focus on the present moment.
Here are my top 5 ideas for using Hygge for stress
- As the nights draw in, light a natural wax candle with a scent that makes you feel relaxed, such as lavender. Curl up with some cushions, a soft throw or blanket and put on some cosy pyjamas and luxurious cashmere socks. Make a cup of hot chocolate in your favourite mug with raw cacao powder, cinnamon, almond milk and a little maple syrup to sweeten. Now put on a feel good movie or lose yourself in a novel. Bliss!
- Indulge in a scented bath. Add some magnesium salts (great for relaxation and sleep) and a relaxing bath oil. Light a candle or two and play your favourite chill out music. This will help melt away the stresses of the day.
- Socialise – but only with people who make you feel good and not because you feel you ought to. A coffee catching up with a good friend or inviting people over for an informal supper of a simple home cooked meal is great for lifting our spirits – but not if you get stressed cleaning up the house beforehand, cooking an elaborate meal or because you’re seeing people out of duty!
- Hygge isn’t just about being indoors and evidence has shown that connecting with nature can boost your mood. An Autumn or Winter walk in the countryside or a park on a crisp sunny day can be invigorating and can help avoid SAD (seasonal affective disorder)
- As a wellbeing coach, I like to encourage my clients to spend time focusing on what makes them feel good. This may betaking up yoga or meditation, doing something creative (knitting is apparently very Hygge!), or even planning a new career. Writing down your goals, hopes and dreams in a beautiful notebook or planner can be really get you feeling inspired and focuses the mind on what’s really important to you. You can also create a vision board using images and words that inspire you.
Finally, remember that Hygge is about promoting well-being by making a few well chosen changes to your day to day life and environment, rather than ‘escaping’ from your life. So, to use Hygge to reduce the stresses of modern life, take the time to enjoy the present moment and enhance your life in any way that makes you smile and uplifts your soul.