How to hygge your life

Kathy Carter


Hygge - the concept of enjoying life's simple pleasures - is what the world needs right now. From designing a home-space that is welcoming and shrouding, e.g. with tactile fabrics and gentle lighting, to changing our rituals and lifestyles to boost mental clarity and equilibrium, the Danish concept of contentment and cosiness is surely today's holy grail. Here, we look at ways to bring this conviviality into our lives.

Be present and thankful

Hygge – pronounced ‘who-guh’ - isn’t just about our surroundings, for example, warmth and comfort; it is also about connection and appreciation. Now, more than ever, we need to find meaningful connections in this world. Mindfulness is one way to help 'ground' ourselves. Being present is actually a simple step to take, once you recognise your own ‘barriers’ to being mindful.

A simple practice is meditation. Taking five minutes to sit quietly and follow our breath can help us feel more conscious and connected – hold the in-breath for several seconds before releasing, and help your mind slow down by imagining a simple waterfall cascading, or rhythmical, gentle waves lapping on a beach. Why not try a guided meditation?

A key part of mindfulness is savouring what we are doing, whether it is drinking a cup of tea from a beautiful, favourite cup, or being still and focusing on the taste and feel of an indulgent snack we’re eating.

In these worrying times, when it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the news coverage, we must try to take a step back to connect with our surroundings and give thanks – this will help develop personal resilience and inner strength. (Of course, prayer could be considered a form of focussed mindfulness, and is the ultimate way of recognising gratitude, no matter to whom you are praying.)

Reuse and recycle your clutter

Hygge as a concept includes simplifying everything to create calmness and comfort. The current climate of increased periods at home, therefore, represents a great time to de-clutter, donate to charity, re-assess any excessive tendencies to shop and hoard, and re-organise the wardrobe. This process is as much about de-cluttering the brain as it is the physical environment, and perhaps changing the way we consume, as a whole.

When you come to de-clutter your wardrobe, it’s key to be ruthless about keeping only what you need and love to wear. For example, if an item needs special care, excessive ironing or specific underwear, do you have the inclination to keep it?

Remember, Hygge is about gleaning enjoyment from as many small things as possible. Clean and spruce up the wardrobe, pack unwanted items into a charity bag, and we guarantee that you will feel more positive as a result. The same process can be repeated with children’s toys and will help them develop a sense of altruism.

Hygge the home

One’s home is one’s castle, if the oft-quoted phrase attributed to 17th-century judge Sir Edward Coke, who declared that our house represents a fortress and refuge, is to be believed. Our home is the place we retreat to for familiarity and comfort, so it needs to work for us, from a functional point of view. Start the streamlining process off by considering each room in your home, and establishing the room’s use.

Could it be repurposed as a hobby room, perhaps? Are you maximising the space? Could innovative storage solutions transform how you use the room? If your home isn’t yet a place of calm, why not take the time to re-decorate, thinking about calming colours, bringing in some tactile furnishings, and Feng shui-ing your space to create an environment that wraps you up, like a comforting hug?

Colours of nature are surely the way forward, to bring peace and harmony – blue is said to be great for managing stress and slowing down the heart rate; green is said to attract harmonious feelings that diffuse anxiety; while white symbolises clarity and freshness.

Feed the brain

Reading and listening to self-development resources is a great way to feel calmer and in control - bearing in mind that many of us are suffering from 'fear of uncertainty', currently. Hygge commands being 'present', putting the ‘what ifs’ at the back of our minds, and understanding our current needs. Self-development can, therefore, be a useful tool to help us connect our bodies and minds, and focus on what’s important.

The UK’s Mental Health Foundation has a range of links at its website that include wellness podcasts; while if you have time on your hands, Harvard’s free, online ‘Buddhism Through Its Scriptures’ course should develop your higher consciousness, and help expand your mind. Now’s perhaps a great time to cut down on reality TV shows and continuing TV dramas, and engage our brains with more substantial, meaningful content.

Hygge resources

Here are some resources which will help you achieve that aspirational hygge state of mind:

Moodnotes – a phone app that allows you to keep track of your own mental health and well-being. Created by clinical psychologists, it features cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and positive psychology content.

The Church of England website has details of daily prayers, as well as churches with live-streamed services.

Marie Kondo’s website isn’t just about de-cluttering – she also shares details of daily rituals and self-care routines to honour one’s whole self and live our best lives.

The Spruce has an excellent list of online assistance and ‘visualiser’ tools, to help individuals develop home interior colour schemes, and even re-design entire rooms.

The Danish Way of Parenting website has multiple resources on using hygge to parent your children in an authentic, life-affirming way.

Marie Kondo's website

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