Dear winter blues, meet Hygge: The Danish art of coziness

Create a cheery playlist to alleviate your blue mood. File Ben Geisberg

It’s the most hygge time of the year.

It’s winter season and for many of us, it’s that time where our seasonal blues kick in. Days are short, the rain pours relentlessly and the sun has been in hiding for ages. This dreary weather can easily affect our mood, motivation, mental health and energy levels.

With so many cold, dark days ahead of us, many of us retreat to what brings us comfort on a cold winter’s day. Whether that may be the warmth evoked by a home cooked meal with friends, getting cozy by the fireplace, or perhaps even conducting little rituals that give us joy like brewing tea in our favourite mug and lighting a candle to cast away the winter shivers.

Much like most unexplainable feelings, there isn’t quite a word in English that captures this essence. However, there is in Danish — Hygge (pronounced hoo-guh).

Hygge can be expressed in many ways. It’s a moment or feeling, whether alone at home or out in public, ordinary or extraordinary — but it is always cozy, charming or special.

But most importantly, it alters our mental wellbeing.

Hygge shows that warmth is not only a physical state — it’s a mental one too.

The Danes are known to be some of the happiest people on Earth (according to the World Happiness Report of 2016). By creating simple rituals without much effort, this positive outlook has become naturally embedded into their lifestyles, and perhaps, yours too.

Hygge starter pack

There’s tons of ways to feel hygge. A Danish person is likely to tell you how important it is to create a hyggelig atmosphere at home.

Start by burning some candles — fireplaces, blankets, wool socks or anything knitted are welcomed to create this vibe.

Hygge is best enjoyed with friends

Spending a cozy evening with friends and enjoying each other’s company may just be what your body and soul needs. After all, togetherness is an essential part of hygge.

Make a warm winter playlist

Create a cheery playlist to alleviate your blue mood. Alternatively, do the opposite and channel your angst through a moody playlist and put it on blast — The Smiths and King Krule are great artists to listen to, but the main point is to create a soothing ambiance.

Plan exciting activities to look forward to

Getting out of a warm bed on a cold grey day can be a real burden. But it’s a lot easier when there’s something exciting to eagerly anticipate.

Planning little adventures that bring you bliss can make all the difference. Try out a new coffee shop, stop by a flower shop, go see a play, or even bring back an old hobby. It may just uplift your mood and get you feeling some type of hygge way.

Treat your sweet tooth

Hygge is associated with relaxation and indulgence and what’s more indulgent than sugar? After all, winter is when people consume the most amount of sweets.

You could technically make anything hygge. It’s all about perspective. Reminding ourselves to appreciate the heartwarming moments and being grateful for what we have can provide the necessary mental shift to get through the long winter months.

Now go out there — or stay in — and have a “hygge-ful” winter season.