A Photo Collage Guide to the Comforts of Hygge

Think back to the best holiday meal and day you’ve ever experienced. Remember the smell and taste of your favourite foods, the fun you had playing charades or cards, the glowing candles or roaring fire that added a delicious coziness to your home. Now imagine living so you feel that happy and comfortable every day. That’s hygge.

Hygge

Hygge (pronounced hoo-guh) is a Danish word that translates very roughly to coziness. It involves creating both a hyggeligt (hygge-like) atmosphere in your home, and nurturing a hygge mindset focused on wellbeing and togetherness.

Hygge was initially a response to the long, dark, Danish winters. Now it’s practiced year round, although there’s still an extra emphasis on hygge when it is cold outside.

How to Create a Hyggeligt Atmosphere

hygge photo collage natural environment in home

A hyggeligt atmosphere includes as many elements from the natural world as possible. Think of walls painted in warm tones, hardwood floors, a stone or brick feature wall, furniture with wood or leather. A natural environment also includes plants, and maybe a pet or two!

hygge photo collage of light sources

If fire’s an option, that’s the best. If not, the goal is warm light that mimics fire’s natural glow. As you might expect, given their 17 hour winter nights, Denmark is one of the world’s largest consumers of candles. Click here for a post about the top three benefits of burning candles, and how to choose the perfect candle.

Table lamps and fairy lights also work. Use varying sizes and styles of lamps with warm, yellow bulbs rather than bright white ones. Dimmer switches on the lamps provide extra flexibility.

hygge photo collage of comfortable furnishings

Coziness requires soft comfortable furniture where you can lounge while you read a good book, stare into a candle flame, or listen to music. Extra points if the knitted or crocheted afghan has special meaning to you.

There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.

Norwegian proverb

hygge photo collage of winter clothing

Cozy hyggeligt clothing is anything that feels great against your skin and keeps you warm. Consider woolly sweaters, scarves, flannel shirts, big socks, fluffy slippers, winter boots, silk underwear….

How to Nurture Your Hygge Mindset

hygge photo collage of simple pleasures

A hygge mindset is about simple pleasures that connect us with people we love–board games, card games, a dinner with friends. It is also about taking the time to enjoy activities that we find personally relaxing such as reading a good book, making art, colouring in an adult colouring book, or playing music.

hygge photo collage of soothing rituals
Some simple pleasures that are really appealing deserve a regular place in your week or day. A hot bath is beneficial to both body and soul. It is always a good idea to buy yourself flowers; to make a cup of your favourite tea, or enjoy a coffee break with someone special.

hygge photo collage of fresh foods

The hygge mindset includes slowing down and taking your time. When it comes to food, that means using fresh, local produce, and slow cooking hearty soups and stews. Meals are expressions of love as well as nourishment for family and friends.

But don’t worry that hygge is only about clean eating. Delicious hot drinks, pastries and coffee cake, and chocolate in all of its forms are all considered beneficial and have a place in the hygge lifestyle.

How to Incorporate More Hygge into Your Winter

Hygge is a feeling. If you feel safe, happy, and cozy, you are living hygge. If you don’t, you aren’t. It’s that individual and that simple. There are no hard and fast rules. However, if you feel that you are running on a neverending treadmill and that you’re as far from cozy contentment as you can be, here are six ideas that might help:

  1. Choose just one of the mindset suggestions above, and do it. If you’re having trouble slowing down, changing your atmosphere first becomes just another item to add to your to-do list. Changing your mindset, perhaps by incorporating a soothing routine into your weekly schedule, will provide faster relief.
  2. Light some candles an hour or so before going to bed. Use that action as the time you also shut down your phone, internet connection, and television.
  3. Observe yourself to determine what you truly enjoy and what you don’t. If, for example, you love to play Scrabble or assemble jigsaw puzzles, but detest the holiday baking that everyone expects of you, cut back or cut out the holiday baking and haul out that game board or puzzle. Remind yourself that if you aren’t happy, it’s not hygge!
  4. Choose to be grateful. Focus on what you have, and on the experiences and people that are valuable and important to you.
  5. Be a little kinder to yourself and everyone else. Avoid self-criticism, judgments of others, and any discussions of negative news stories.
  6. In the immortal words of yogi Ram Dass, “Be here, now.” Rather than rushing through your to-do lists, try to squeeze the juice from every moment. Live deliberately.

For more ideas and photos, check out my Pinterest board.

I’m really looking forward to my hyggeligt winter. How about you? What appeals to you about hygge?

 

22 comments

  1. On these dull pre-winter days with frost in the mornings, it is great to put on the fireplaces and stay in whenever you can. I also love candles and must get some honeycomb ones to preserve the new paint on the walls.

  2. Perfect timing for me, Karen – Having my full knee replacement on Jan. 16 so I’m in for a long indoor winter…great idea from Gerri I will be stocking up on those beeswax candles and I always have lots of good reading material….bring it on .. I’m ready!!

    1. Yay, Marlene! So glad that you’ve got your knee replacement booked, and that it’s in the early part of the winter. It is indeed a perfect time for hygge. You sound ready… and stoked! Way to go.

  3. I feel warm and cosy just reading this! We also have that saying “no such thing as bad weather etc”, usually said as we head out into horizontal rain ☔️

  4. Hi Karen,
    I am way later than I normally am but it has been a busy day. My father-in-law had his surgery this morning and we have been in touch with the hospital off and on all day. I am pleased to report he is doing exceptionally well and is already off the ventilator and talking. We were told that he would be on the machine for 48 -72 hours and spend all that time in and out of consciousness. So, as a result, I am finally able to get to my computer and read this PJ post. Yea!

    I love this part about winter – the staying inside, snuggling under a blanket and reading a book with a cup of tea (or coffee) steaming on the table beside me. I like those blankets with the fuzzy microfiber I think it is called…my stepson gave me one a couple of Christmases ago. It is fuzzy on one side and a design on the other side, warm as heck and so soft and comfy. It is also the blanket I use when I am sick or have a nap on the couch.
    I like candles but can’t burn any in this apartment – at least not the scented ones that I like. I will have to settle for the flickering L.E.D. ones and pretend. 🙁
    I have to keep scrolling back up the page to read the phonetic pronunciation…thank you for that Karen. What does this word mean? hyggeligt – something to do with clothes? Sorry, not following the thought pattern too well today. I started the day off with a bad headache and it is still hanging around in the background. Thank you for another fascinating post, Karen, I learn so much on Profound Journey. 🙂

    1. Hi Susan,
      Glad to hear that your father-in-law is doing so well. That’s terrific news, and I’m sure a big relief for all of you.
      One way to remember the pronunciation of hygge is to think that it rhymes with ‘cougar’ but without the ‘r’. Someone said that online and it helped me to remember.
      My understanding is that hygge and hyggeligt are often used interchangeably, and that the terms are both nouns and verbs. In the post, I’ve used hyggeligt to describe the mindset of living hygge, but I’m not sure if that’s common usage or not.

  5. I love this post, Karen. I was already by the fireplace, with a hot drink, my favourite popcorn, and in my cozy pajamas when I began reading this…so the importance of hygge makes perfect sense to me. Thank you for sharing this. Your information is very reaffirming.

    1. Ohh.. sounds like an idyllic and perfect hygge evening, Donna. I too was eating popcorn last night – the Chicago Mix with cheese corn and caramel corn. Delicious! What’s your favourite?

  6. Sounds wonderful! I continually learn more and more about you as I read Profound Journey. I very much remember your statements about surrounding yourself with beautiful things. Enjoy the lead up to winter and your enjoyment plans.

    1. Hi Fran,
      I too was struck by the hygge focus on beauty, serenity, comfort. It’s definitely a philosophy I embrace. I hadn’t realized just how much until I started writing Profound Journey. So I appreciate you saying that you’re learning more about me. I am about me too!!

  7. What a warm, comforting post! I’m looking forward to slipping into the rituals of winter (a cozy fire, warm throws, cuddly socks, etc…), but our current 90 degree temps are making that impossible 🙂 For now, my hygge will be enjoying a good book and cool drink out on our deck.

    1. Oh that sounds like such a wonderful problem to have, Janis! While I’m actually looking forward to winter this year, I do appreciate that hygge is year round and think a good book and cool drink on the deck would be quite wonderful.

  8. Everything about hygge appeals to me, Karen, except the cold weather that would make it even more enjoyable. That being said, I am chilled easy, so comfy and warm clothes are right up there with a fire, inside or outside, as pleasurable. When it comes to food, we are covered as well. Especially during the holidays, when healthy food lives next to comfort food, desserts more specifically. 🙂 The mind could use some practice to become more hygge, but, nobody’s life is perfect. Maybe a good resolution for next year?

    It would be good practice for all of us to decipher what makes us comfortable and happy. Here’s to a hygge end of the year!

    1. Hi Liesbet,
      It sounds like you’ve got the hygge lifestyle all worked out and already happening much of the time. I actually envy you the warm and comfy clothes. I used to be able to do that, but now get overheated way too quickly.
      A hyggeligt mindset sounds like a wonderful New Year’s resolution.

  9. I love this post, Karen. I was already doing some of these things before I knew it was called Hygge. It came naturally living in Maine with lots of darkness/cold for several months of the year. I have a small lamp I turn on in late October and it stays on until spring. I have electric candles and this time of year Christmas lights inside that make things feel cozy. I leave up the Christmas lights until after Epiphany, and leave lights on the mantle and in the window until spring. So light is very important to me. I love board games but because I always seem to win, I have trouble getting people to play with me. LOL. I am into the comfy clothes and whole foods and adore the smell of a stew bubbling on the cooktop. I don’t know that I could live anywhere else where the warm weather was year round!

    1. I love, love, love your final comment that you couldn’t imagine living where there was warm weather year round. I completely agree, even though we are considered weird by all of those Florida-bound retirees you wrote about in a recent post.
      I’ve never left the little fairy lights on until spring but that’s a great idea. They’re so beautiful; maybe I’ll try that this year.
      I wish we lived closer. I too am a board game champion, and would love to take you on!

  10. I’m all for coziness! As I read your description, I realized that in winter, I do most of the things that you described: fireplace, soft lighting, cozy blankets and throws, homemade soups and stews. I wonder if Hygge has the same root word as “hug?”

    Re: board games: I grew up in a family that played cards and board games. Among my siblings, we were all very competitive. Once we added children to the mix, it all became too much, as the uncles colluded to make sure that the youngest child won, and everyone else had hurt feelings! Ultimately, we banned Monopoly games from family gatherings to keep the peace. But I have many fond memories of sitting around the table laughing together, eating snacks, and playing games. Maybe we need to bring them back again….

    Jude

    p.s. I still have to fill in my info every time I comment.

    1. I’m not sure what it is about Monopoly, but it seems to be the board game responsible for the most family discord. I used to love marathon Monopoly tournaments when I was a kid.
      I’m sorry to hear that you’re still having to enter all of your info. I’m not hearing of that problem from anyone else so am thinking there has to be some sort of conflict between your settings and the ones on my site. I’ll write to you about it by email.

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