During the winter months of January and February, things can sometimes feel a little dreary. The holidays are over, and where I live we still have to endure a few bitterly cold, dark, and often gloomy months. Though it’s a new year, which can be an exciting time for fresh starts and resolutions, it’s also been coined as the most “depressing” time of the year. Understanding this, I believe that practicing mindfulness in our daily lives is of the utmost importance. I have wanted to write a post on this for quite awhile, and what better time than when people are lamenting the cold weather, and noticing those holiday feelings from the previous month fading further from their minds.
I found out about the concept of hygge a couple of years ago, and to me it encompasses so much of what I personally aspire for my home and the environment I create around me to exude, and during these months tends to be the time I place the most emphasis on it in my life.
Hygge – pronounced “hue-guh” is the Danish word used to acknowledge the feeling of coziness, wellness, and contentedness in your life. It is something that is less of an action or set of things that you need to do, rather it is generally distilled into a feeling.
You know – that feeling you get when you cozy up under a blanket, the fireplace aglow next to you, while rain falls gently outside. When you smell fresh baking in the oven. When you’re curled up in an armchair by the window and take that first sip of hot tea or coffee. When you pull a cozy sweater overhead and feel instant warmth. When you’re sharing in a lovely dinner and great conversation with some dear friends, a candle flickering on the table.
What you experience internally with all of these examples is the essence of hygge. It requires a slowness and presence of heart, and above all, cultivating a feeling of well-being and comfort into your life.
In the Danish countries, hygge was created with the hope to perservere through the cold, dark, and tedious. It was a way for people to create moments in which they could find joy, regardless of their surroundings. With so many frigid and darkened days, the simple act of lighting a candle and enjoying a warm drink could serve to lift one’s spirit towards further contentedness with life. In this vein, hygge is primarily about being aware of a good moment.
This is something that I personally find great joy in weaving into my life, and I thought today I would share with you some ways that I incorporate hygge in my home and environment.
I absolutely love having candles lit throughout my home. There is something about the flickering candlelight that emits a coziness difficult to beat. If you ask those who come into our home, they will tell you that I usually have about a minimum of 4 candles lit during any given gathering. A scent, like perhaps balsam in the winter, or pumpkin in the fall, can be so lovely. Don’t go overboard with the scents – I will often choose one or two candles with the same, or complimentary scents, and the rest will simply be unscented votives in candle holders. While looking out into my home seeing all of the flickering flames, it brings a certain peace and contentedness to my soul.
Soft/ Cozy Materials
This one is fairly self-explanatory; A wonderful way to bring a sense of comfort into your rooms is to layer your sitting surfaces with lots of pillows and throw blankets. In the winter months, I choose thicker, warmer ones with more texture – like knits, furs, and sherpa. Having a chunky knit throw over the edge of your couch that you can easily reach for whilst reading or cuddling is very hygge.
A Warm Fire
Of course not everyone has a fireplace, but if you do, turning the temperature down a notch or two in your home, and using your fireplace for heat, is a wonderful way to cozy things up. I am a big reader, so I know I often relate back to my time immersed in literature, however as I sit on our comfy couches with my latest novel in hand, I absolutely love having the fireplace flickering. My kitties sure love it, too! Their beds are in front of the fireplace (you can see Willow’s near the coffee table in the above photo).
A few friends of ours who don’t have a regular fireplace have opted to get faux fireplaces. I will link some cute ones below. I think there is something about the climate we live in that seems to make some sort of flame-source almost a necessity.
Warm Beverages and Foods
Something that can bring with it an instant sense of contentedness is consuming a warm food or drink. Whether it’s a cup of your favourite coffee or tea, or a hearty soup or stew, warm foods just seem to transfer something beneficial to the body and soul during this time of year. It is actually natural that our bodies crave warmer, heavier foods in the colder months, and then lighter, cooler foods during the warmer months. Working along these lines, I find that when it’s a cold day out, and I come home to something warm and flavourful simmering away in the crockpot, it brings such a feeling of contentment. Paired with a glass of red wine would be a bonus of course – the Danes would likely have glögg (mulled wine) available on repeat during this time of year in their homes and gatherings. Anyways, something warming up your belly is a great way to experience comfort, and hygge, this time of the year.
I am someone who is all about the ambience of a space, and something inherent in this, for me, is music. We have a little bluetooth speaker in our home on our kitchen counter that I link my iPod or phone to, and I will choose a Spotify playlist I have curated to have on throughout the day and evening. I have actually researched this a bit, as it seems common for certain people (generally more sensitive people), that they can feel almost a sense of internal irritation if there is absolutely no sound going on in the background of a space, and this is something I definitely experience. Having music helps to quell this feeling, and add more enjoyment to the overall atmosphere of your home. I always have music playing – this is something, once again, that friends who visit our home can attest to. Whether it’s a quieter night with just myself and Troy hanging out, a more low-key gathering with friends, or a livelier event where we are playing games and having fun, I like to choose a playlist I that I feel fits the occasion.
Another thing that is key for creating good ambience in a room, is lighting. This is something my husband and I don’t always agree on, haha – he typically wants to turn the lights way up in the house – but creating a cozy atmosphere, in my opinion, is helped by turning the lights lower. Don’t turn them off completely of course (hello, darkness?), but rather than using bright, often stark, overhead lighting in your home, consider using your floor and table lamps instead. Opt for warm or soft white lightbulbs to add to the coziness! I am very picky about lightbulbs, and try to have them all the same tone of warm white throughout our home so that walking from space to space the lighting is more cohesive, and amorous to the environment.
A De-cluttered, Peaceful Space
Throughout the year, you will see me writing about how it’s so important to me for our home to feel peaceful, and like a place of enjoyment and rest. Being out in the world, and even working, can bring with it a sense of busy-ness and a faster pace, and I am someone that, in so many ways, prefers slowness. This is something I would argue is an inherently feminine characteristic. When I feel like life is too busy, moving too fast, I can begin to feel a bit of chaos creeping up, so it’s vital to me personally that I neutralize this with a peaceful and hygge home. A primary way that I do this is by keeping things tidy and de-cluttered. Rather than having papers and mail all over your counters, use a basket or designated tray for these things in an office or drawer. Utilizing storage bins that can be tucked away for kids’ toys or other gadgets you use, rather than letting them exist all over the floor or other surfaces, is another wonderful way to keep organized. In a couple of photos throughout this post, you can see a cylindrical storage basket under the side table – that contains all of our kitty toys (which are numerous, trust me, haha). Basically, de-cluttering, and creating order in your home is a huge way to make it feel like a more peaceful environment that can be thoughtfully enjoyed, rather than an extension of the chaos life can bring with it.
Focus on Loved Ones
We have hygge when we realize that time spent with our loved ones, enjoying moments with them, is the most precious and important of things we can press into. This is something we can put into practice at any time, whether it’s performing a mundane task together like making dinner or washing dishes, or while sharing a more traditionally hygge moment, like sipping hot chocolate together by the fire. Bring out board games, relive childhood memories, cultivate new experiences together, and above all, try to be present in the moment – the essence of what hygge is about.
Though hygge is most often associated with combatting the cold and dark, since it originated out of the winter months in Danish countries, it is definitely something you can adopt all year round. I truly feel it goes hand-in-hand with the concept of practicing mindfulness, and finding joy in the present moments in our lives.
Whether hygge is an idea that is entirely new to you, or you have been using it for years, I would love to hear of ways that you incorporate it into your daily life, or plan to moving forward. I hope you enjoyed this post, and that you have a very hygge weekend, my friends.
Thanks for stopping by,
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