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What is Hygge & How It Can Improve Your Life

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Life is full of things you "have" to do. You have to go to work, take care of family, and clean the house and that leaves little time for doing the things that feed your soul, but everyone needs at least small moments of pure happiness for mental and physical health. Hygge is a Danish lifestyle practice that can help you reclaim inner happiness by engaging in the soul-soothing activities that you might have cast aside because you're "too busy." If that sounds familiar, read on.

Hygge is also a way of living life that emphasizes comfort, happiness, and peace by including more of the things that make you feel at peace. For example, sipping a steaming cup of coffee by a blazing, wood-burning fireplace on a cold, winter morning might be your hygge. Or it could be opening the curtains first thing in the morning to watch the sunrise.

It doesn't have to be costly or time-consuming to be called hygge. Sometimes simple pleasures are the most satisfying. When you think of hygge, think of special moments that make you feel cozy and relaxed.

The list of things that constitute hygge is unique to the individual. Some examples include:

  • Watching your favorite old television show under a blanket
  • Playing with a pet
  • Writing in a diary while sipping a cup of coffee
  • Photographing a sunrise in the morning
  • Snuggle under a blanket on a cold day
  • Drinking a cup of hot cocoa slowly and mindfully
  • Taking a soothing bath complete with bath oil or bubbles

 

Hygge can extend to how you decorate your house or office too. The colors you surround yourself with, the paintings or photographs you place on the wall, and the sounds that surround you all play a role in how you feel. So, some people like to decorate their home and work area with décor that follows the hygge principle of making them feel cozy and at peace.

Some ways to create a hygge living or work environment:

  • Place photographs of loved ones in prominent places in your home or office
  • Place soft pillows on furniture to create a more comfy environment
  • Open the shades to let natural sunlight inside
  • Play New Age music in the background as you work
  • Burn candles with a relaxing scent such as lavender
  • Paint the walls of your home in relaxing shades of neutral, soft pink, light blue
  • Fill your living environment with signs of nature such as plants

 

Benefits of Including More Hygge in Your Life

You might wonder how engaging in hygge can enhance your life. The goal of hygge is to create an environment that makes you feel comfortable, secure, and safe while surrounding yourself with things that calm and bring pleasure. In an environment where stress is the norm and something you deal with every day, it's an oasis. Hygge is about time too, taking the time for small pleasures, like a chat with a friend by phone, a snuggle session with a pet, or a piping hot cup of coffee in an antique coffee cup.

 

What are the health benefits?

If you lead a stressful life, hygge can help lower your stress level and even reduce the stress hormone cortisol that can have a negative effect on your health when it's too high.  Studies show that when cortisol stays too high, it suppresses the immune system, contributes to bone loss, causes weight gain, and worsens blood sugar control, all important for physical health. But hygge is important for mental health too. It's closely related to mindfulness, the concept of finding pleasure in the moment, rather than focusing on what the future holds. When you live in the moment, you experience less worry and stress.

Hygge is also about connecting with others, whether it be friends, family, or pets, and that's what makes life fulfilling and meaningful. No matter how busy you are, make sure it's part of your life. Even if you have limited time to spare, little things, like creating a relaxing home and work environment, can make a difference in your mental and physical health.

 

Does hygge work?

Denmark is a nation where hygge originated and where the most people practice it and, according to the World Happiness Report, Denmark is the happiest country in the world.

 

The Bottom Line

Now that you know what hygge is and the benefits it offers, make a list of ways to add hygge to your own life. Hygge has different meanings for each individual. Once you know, start adding these small moments to your own life and watch your life improve!

 

 

References:

World Happiness Report. "World Happiness Report 2016.

College of Letters and Science. University of Wisconsin at Madison. "Warming up to hygge"

 

 

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