How-To “Hygge”: The Ultimate Guide to Achieving Coziness and Happiness

Winter has finally started to arrive on campus. For many, this is a defining moment in discovering who in your life are the winter-lovers and the winter-dislikers. The shorter days, cold temperatures and accumulation of snow and ice leave many with feelings of bitterness and loathing. 

However, I hold the unpopular opinion of loving winter. I adore snow (cue a major Lorelai Gilmore freak-out here). But despite my love for its festiveness, I’m perpetually freezing and can admit that the dark evenings can seem a little gloomy. 

In preparation for “hibernation” this year, I’ve taken it upon myself to implement more comforting and soothing habits into my lifestyle. The results are leaving me happier, more content and ready to take on the challenges to come. 

But what am I doing exactly and what makes it different from other “wellness” trends? 

In predominately Danish and somewhat Norwegian culture, this concept of coziness is defined as “hygge” (pronounced “hoo-gah” or “hue-gah”).  Defined by the blog Hygge House, hygge “is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cozy, charming or special.” 

Ultimately, hygge is best described as being present; it’s a state of mind and a way of feeling. It is also a way to enhance your daily routines through soothing activities. By incorporating some of the Danes’ philosophies for a hygge-ified life, exams and the holiday season may be a little easier. These tips are also sustainable and can be carried beyond the winter season! 

5 Ways to Hygge

1. Candles & Fire 

There is nothing cozier than lighting a candle or sitting in front of a blazing fire. I find the glow and crackle particularly soothing. I also really enjoy the smoky smell. Each winter, I’ve made it a habit to indulge and purchase a candle for my collection. My go-to places are Chapters and Bath and Body Works. For this season, I’m enjoying the following scents: “Grl Pwr” and “In the Stars.” 

2. Fuzzy Blankets & Wool Socks 

I love blankets. I’m obsessed with them. There is nothing more comforting than burrito-ing into a fuzzy blanket. I even layer them occasionally; this provides a nice weight to my bedding, which is even more soothing. Fuzzy blankets make movie nights and study sessions so much better. Wool socks are not only chic this season, but practical. They complement an oversized sweater with leggings and are practical for walks with winter boots. 

3. Hot Drinks, Pastries & China

Tea, coffee or hot chocolate: all are divine. Find your favourite mug or dust off your grandmother’s china to make this hygge practice not only delicious but visually pleasing as well. My go-to’s? When I am not making something at home, Second Cup’s London Fogs and Starbucks’ Peppermint Hot Chocolates are my favourite indulgent seasonal beverages. As for pastries, I made these coffee cake cookies last week and they were a massive hit! 

4. Having Dinner with Friends and/or Family (Comfort Food!) 

Eating alone in front of your laptop can only be so entertaining. Sure it’s fun, but dinner conversation is becoming a lost art. Schedule time out of your day to either go to Wilf’s or throw a pot-luck. Hygge cooking is about taking your time to make a meal (but this does not mean the recipe has to be time-consuming). There’s a reason food tastes better with Mom’s love in it. By focusing on cooking, you are able to clear your mind and make more conscious decisions about what you are putting in your body. But “health” can come secondary if you prefer — hygge is about enjoying comfort food. Warm foods like roast, stew and chilli are typical examples. I myself favour a classic tomato soup with grilled cheese. But I’d also highly recommend this recipe for chicken and dumplings as an alternative.  ​
5. Unplug 

Hygge involves checking-in with yourself. Letting your mind wander. Take time to unplug and enjoy the quiet. Read a good book, explore nature and take time to be quiet. By doing so, you’ll be more attune to what you are feeling and how you might want to make yourself feel even better. 
Want to learn more? Check out Meik Wiking’s book, The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living (2017)!