5 Ways to Add Hygge to Your Life

Hygge (pronounced “hoo-ga”) is a Danish word for a quality of coziness that gives rise to feelings of content and well-being. It is also known to be a defining characteristic of Danish culture and way of life. In his book, The Little Book of Hygge, Meik Wiking writes that, “What freedom is to Americans, hygge is to Danes.” Perhaps the immense value placed on hygge is why Denmark is consistently one of the top happiest countries in the world.

The desire to be cozy and content is hopefully not a foreign concept to anyone. The stresses of college combined with the lack of space and privacy (i.e. dorm life) may hinder one’s ability to embrace hygge head on. There are, however, simple ways you can incorporate hygge in your life.

Light

Candles are arguably the most important part of hygge. Students are not allowed to burn candles in their dorms, though. Even my non-UW affiliated off-campus apartment forbids candles being burned. In order to recreate that same ambiance that candles give without the fire hazard, consider purchasing string lights, flameless candles, or even a cute LED night light.

Hygge is about not being holed up inside in the dark all day. Please know that it is important to take some time away from studying under a bright, harsh, headache-inducing desk lamp. Also, if the sun finally comes around, open up the blinds and let the sunshine in!

Softness

Softness is practically synonymous with coziness. The first thing I do when I finally return home after being out all day is change into comfortable clothing. Think: cable knit sweaters, fleece lined sweatpants, and fuzzy sherpa socks, all wrapped in a faux fur throw blanket.

The Danish even have a word for cozy “at home” clothes. The word “hyggebusker” translates to “coziness pants” in English.

Food

If hygge is all about comfort, then hygge food is all about your favorite comfort foods. Opt for something sweet by baking these brown butter and toffee cookies. Or if you want to embrace hygge’s Scandinavian roots, consider making this Norwegian porridge recipe. Or if elaborate recipes with hella ingredients aren’t your thing, try this quick, easy, dorm-friendly macaroni and cheese recipe.

Hygge food isn’t about embracing Scandinavia cuisine or spending half your day slaving away over a recipe, though. The main thing to understand is that hygge food is meant to warm the heart. Now I’m not going to tell anyone that if the food they eat doesn’t satisfy them or make them feel good about themselves that they shouldn’t eat it. I’m just going to say that it isn’t hygge.

Activities

The activities you engage in while relaxing should be ones that you enjoy doing and that don’t feel like work or cause you stress. Based on that premise, each person’s idea of what constitutes as a relaxing activity is probably going to be slightly different from another person’s idea. Reading, watching a TV show or movie, and making art (through drawing, painting, crocheting, etc) are generally accepted relaxing activities. And while simply scrolling through your phone may seem relaxing, it isn’t really considered hygge.

Mindset

When reading about hygge one cannot ignore the seemingly need to go purchase certain “necessary” materials, such as candles and soft sweaters. But that’s not really the point. What is important to understand is that hygge is about both being comfortable and content. The power to procure content does not lie in commercialized products advertised at making you happy. Rather, the power lies within oneself. If the food you eat or the clothing you wear or the environment you are in isn’t making you comfortable, it’s probably not making you content either. If this is the case, know that you have the ability to change aspects about your life that you do not like.