Living the Hygge Life

As the temperature drops below 50 degrees and you see every student on campus shivering in their parkas and fur boots, there's only one thing on everybody’s mind: How do we survive this harsh winter? Some people say all you need is a soft blanket and a good book. Others say you need to keep your heater at eighty degrees at all times. And for those Northerners, this weather is nothing and they can get through it in shorts and a T-shirt.

The Danish, however, have a very simple solution: Hygge.

You may have heard the word going around recently. Pronounced “hue-guh,” the new trend doesn’t have a direct translation, which makes it a little hard to figure out exactly what it means. It is a word that is generally used to describe a moment – ordinary or extraordinary – that is cozy, charming or special. It only requires consciousness, a certain slowness and the ability to not only be present but to enjoy the present.

Now if you search hygge on Pinterest, you will find many pictures of steaming tea mugs, long wool socks, and perhaps a snow-covered window in the background. Contrary to popular belief, hygge is not only for winter, but it's also best suited for the cold weather that tends to plague many parts of the world. It’s simply the act of being cozy, which is far easier to achieve when you can wrap up in a warm blanket in the chilly winter and not feel that you’re going to die of a heat stroke, but this lifestyle can also be applied to the summer months as well.

Now that you've received your free-trial crash course in Danish culture, here are a few tips on how to integrate hygge into your own lifestyle.

1. Start a Candle Collection

Courtesy: Arnold Leung

This is probably why they say the average Dane burns 13 pounds of candle wax a year. Embrace the power of the warm glow of candlelight and let it transform your space into a flickering escape from the winter chill. The Danish tend to stray away from overly artificial scents and lean more towards organic candles, but honestly, I say go with whatever makes you happy. That’s what hygge’s all about. 

2. Put the Kettle On

Courtesy: Kira auf der Heide

There's simply nothing cozier than the feeling of a warm drink while cuddling up on a chilly winter night. This is why in Copenhagen you’ll find countless cozy cafes where you can whittle the hours away with a hot cup of coffee next to a snow-covered window like those Pinterest photos I mentioned before! Whether you prefer tea, coffee or hot chocolate, fill up a cute mug and find a nice window to gaze wistfully out of (regardless of if it's snowing or not).

3. Soft and Simple

Courtesy: Dan Gold

Hygge is all about the simple things in life and that includes your interior décor. It’s not just about throwing out clutter and getting this minimalistic style, but about making tasks themselves simpler. Say for instance you throw out some clutter and clear up your kitchen space; it’s needless to say that a clean kitchen makes preparing meals way easier. The “soft” part speaks for itself. Make your home plush and cozy with throw pillows you’d happily take a nap on, fuzzy rugs, and a pile of blankets. Throw them over couches and chairs, or make a nice stack of them for your guests (and self).  

4. Remove Stressors

Courtesy: Nine Köpfer

This lifestyle is meant to improve your wellbeing and make your life simpler, so anything that stresses you out is not allowed. Yeah, that might be pretty hard in college, so don’t focus too much on completely eliminating these things. Rather, find ways to minimize them, or at least manage them. Have a tough exam next week that you need to study for? Divide up your time so it doesn’t all fall on your shoulders at once and use the spare time to de-stress. Been inside all day doing homework and getting claustrophobic? Gather up some friends and go sit outside even just for an hour. Feel the fresh air and the sunshine and take a break. It takes time to learn, but it goes without saying that the more you can manage your stressors, the happier you’ll be.

5. Find Time for What You Love

Courtesy: Official

In this day and age, we can find ourselves caught up in school, work, social media and anything that takes our mind off of the here and now. We find ourselves caught up in the things we should do, the things we need to do, the things we have to do, rather than the things we want to do. In order to live this simple, comfortable lifestyle, we have to take time away from these things and just find time for the things we love. Go to a coffee shop with your friends and don’t touch your phone once. Take the long way home from work and just enjoy the trip and the view. Walk to class without your phone and just enjoy the air. Paint a picture. Read a book. Sing. Go running. Whatever it is that makes you happy, try to find more time for it. You’ll thank me later.

6. Be One with Nature

Courtesy: Al Kawasa

The more senses you can engage, the more you’ll find yourself in the moment. The Danish are big lovers of nature, and they often take long walks and hikes even when it’s cold out. Remember when I said to remove stressors? It’s proven that experiencing nature is one of the biggest stress relievers. So go outside! (I keep stressing going outside but it really will do you some good.) Go for a walk even if you don’t have a destination. If it’s too cold or stormy out, bring nature indoors by decorating your space with houseplants. Gardening has been proven to lower blood pressure and boost endorphins. So yes, that tiny cactus will actually make you happier.

7. Be Here Now

Courtesy: Sean Kong

Remember how I said that hygge requires not only your presence but also the ability to enjoy the present? Yeah, this is where that comes in. We all hate to hear it, but the world isn’t in your computer or phone screen – it’s here, right in front of you. That doesn’t mean that technology is the root of all evil or that phones are strictly banned from the hygge lifestyle. It just means that it’s always important to remember to take a step away from the screen and just be aware of where you are. Just be here. Take a break from working, scrolling through social media, watching the tenth YouTube video (guilty), and just enjoy where you are. Life is happening now, right in front of you. Don’t miss it because you were focused on something else.