Would you like to slow down, embrace the little things, and practice more simplicity? Are you a highly sensitive person who is bothered by too much noise, bright lights, or technology? Then the Danish practice of hygge (pronounce hoo-gah) just might be for you. The Danes created hygge to help them cope with long, cold winters where days are blanketed in darkness for up to 17 hours at a time!
Hygge is the Danish concept of coziness…the art of creating warmth, comfort, and well being through connection, treasuring the moment, and surrounding yourself with things you love. -Pia Edberg
Hygge means curling up with a good book and a hot cup of tea, under a comfy blanket.
As I’ve been reading The Cozy Life: Rediscover the Joy of the Simple Things Through the Danish Concept of Hygge by Pia Edberg, I’m struck by the many similarities between things that are soothing to highly sensitive people and the concepts of hygge. No wonder Denmark is known as one of the happiest countries in the world. (Totally going on my bucket list!)
Here are seven easy ideas on how to practice hygge today:
1. Get rid of clutter.
Part of practicing hygge is to get rid of clutter and simplify. Surround yourself with only items you love. If you have trouble parting with things, Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, is a good place to start. She helps you release the guilt of letting go of unwanted family “hand me downs” and teaches you to keep only those things that “spark joy.” Less clutter means less things to take care of and clean and more time to spend with your family.
Along with clearing the clutter, be sure to make your bed everyday. My grandmother always said that if you don’t do anything else in a day, at least make your bed. Now that I’m grown up, I can see why. I can’t stand my bed not being made. Making the bed immediately gives the room a cleaner, less cluttered look.
Pay attention to textures. You want soft textures like cashmere or knitted blankets. A fluffy rug, such as a sheepskin rug, by your bed is a wonderful treat. I finally splurged on one last year and I can tell you that it is a total delight stepping onto it in the mornings.
3. Pay attention to lighting.
Use candlelight when ever you can. (You know me, I’m already a big fan!) Scented candles are especially recommended. Scents like pine, firewood burning, or baked goods are nice choices for practicing hygge. Avoid using bright light bulbs. Instead of using overhead lights, tuck lamps here and there in various corners. Sprinkle twinkle lights wherever you can. Try a himalayan salt lamp with its soft orange glow.
I can remember the smell of the wood stove when I apprenticed with herbalist Rosemary Gladstar. She lives in Vermont in a beautiful log home nestled in the mountains. Even in July, evenings can be cold in there, especially when it rains. We would have the wood stove burning downstairs, as we read books from her huge library, watched nature shows, and leafed through photo albums of Rosemary’s travels to Peru, Italy, the rain forest, and more. There was always a feeling of damp coldness and we dressed in layers. It felt so snug and cozy. This is hygge.
4. Decorate with nature.
The Danes love nature and will often bring it indoors, even if its just a few pine cones for a table centerpiece. Try bringing in fresh greens in the winter time, particularly pine. Consider adding plants to your home. There are plenty of easy, care free options available such as spider plants and air plants.
5. Use lots of blankets and pillows.
Be sure to have lots of comfy blankets and pillows on hand, draped over lush furniture that makes you want to sink into it. I can remember visiting my aunt once when I was a teenager. She lived far away, so this was a great treat. Her house was full of hygge, although I didn’t have the words to express it at the time. She insisted on tons of pillows everywhere. It was the first time I had ever experienced such an abundance of pillows in my life. I still remember that.
At night we sat in the living room while my grandfather told stories of his days as a young man, traveling and working as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps which was founded by Franklin Roosevelt. This too is hygge, the gathering of family, celebrating togetherness and sharing stories to pass down through the generations.
6. Assemble a collection of sweaters, slippers, scarves, and thick socks.
Think warm, soft, and snuggly. Comfortable and roomy.
7. Make a special ritual of preparing tea or coffee.
Select the perfect mug. One with a “sweater” or decorated with your favorite colors, that feels just right in your hands. Treat yourself to some fancy coffee or herbal tea. I love teas by Lety at Peaceful Heart Essence. (Lety also offers a beautiful online course, Sacred Tea. I’ve taken it and I highly recommend it. The course is definitely hygge.)
I love these edible sugar lace doilies from SweetMarveLace at Etsy. I actually just ordered some and can’t wait for them to arrive. (I’m stocking up on goodies to add to my self care basket to prepare for Hibernate, an online retreat that has changed the way I feel about winter. It begins January 16th and there’s still time to sign up if you’re interested. It is totally hygge and I noticed Heather has even added a section to the retreat about it this year!)
Here’s a yummy recipe to get you started with your warm winter drink ritual. (Above photo and recipe courtesy of Wellness Stock Shop.) There’s also my treasured chaga chai recipe over here.
Healthy Mayan Hot Cocoa Recipe
10 oz Coconut Milk
1 1/4 TBL Raw Cacao
1 tsp Raw Honey
drop of Cinnamon essential oil
dash of Cayenne Pepper
Heat coconut milk to desired temperature. Mix all ingredients and enjoy!
I love snow. I love winter. It’s such a nice, quiet time. There isn’t the urgency of spring, summer, or fall…it’s such a peaceful time. No wonder animals hibernate. I think I slightly hibernate in the winter. –Tasha Tudor
In her book, Pia also includes authentic Danish recipes, charming hand drawn illustrations, a thirty day hygge challenge, and many more ways to practice hygge. I love this book and have read it twice already because I didn’t want it to be over!
- Do you want to slow down?
- Embrace the little things?
- Practice more simplicity?
- Combat the winter blues?
- Have a home that feels cozy and exudes comfort?
- Spend less time cleaning and more time connecting with your family?
- Treasure the little moments?
Then try practicing the art of hygge. And, don’t forget to pick up a copy of The Cozy Life: Rediscover the Joy of the Simple Things Through the Danish Concept of Hygge. It’s the perfect read for this time of year.
P.S. If you liked this post and want to learn more about cozy living sign up for my email list to be notified later this year when I open the doors to my upcoming e-course, Cultivating Contentment: Soulful Self Care & Cozy Living. (You’ll also get access to my library of freebies for subscribers and a discount code when the course opens! One of my freebies is a collection of three bookmarks, perfect if you order the book above!)
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