Recently, my boyfriend’s dad bought the book ‘The little book of Hygge, the Danish way to live well’ for me. Written by Meik Wiking, a researcher at the Happiness Institute, Copenhagen, I had heard nothing but great reviews of it, and was dying to read it. I had no idea what ‘hygge’ meant, but I knew it was something to do with feeling happy, and who doesn’t want to be happy?
The first thing the book explains is exactly what ‘hygge’ means, and unlike a lot of words, giving the definition of it is quite difficult for us english speakers, as we don’t have a translation for it. Therefore, almost any explanation you can think of, regarding: cosiness, warmth, intimacy, and relaxation can be used to describe it. Hygge isn’t just a feeling, its the atmosphere of your environment, it’s an experience, spending time with loved ones and feeling safe and homely. My favourite definition the book gave was ‘the absence of annoyance’ suggesting hygge can rid you of life’s stresses.
I won’t tell you about everything in the book, however, I will tell you about some of the chapter names, and how I’ve been adapting these into my life. Some of my favourite chapters are: Light, Food and Drink, Home and Hygge on the cheap.
One of the most comforting changes I’ve made, was adding more smaller lights into the house, rather than using the main ceiling lights. Using candles and fairy lights creates little pools of light, which create a warming, cosy feel. The natural lights from the candles have a warming orange colour which adds a feeling to the room, making you want to grab a blanket and snuggle up on the sofa to a cheesy love film.
I recently bought a Mediterranean salt candle, which purifies the air from all the daily contaminants of life, such as dust, mould and mildew which can benefit you if you have asthma like me, or allergies. They can also benefit your sleep. Our modern day lifestyle means that we can’t live without checking our phones every five minutes, switching the tv on as soon as we sit down to relax, and playing on all sorts of gadgets, which can produce masses of positive ions, that reduce our quality of sleep. Salt lamps produce negative ions which can combat the positive ones, and can therefore improve our sleep, so placing one in the bedroom, and other rooms where lots of electronic devices are will help.
Food and drink
Food and drink are two things we can’t live without, and with so many choices nowadays of what we can make, cook and drink, there are so many choices to make your diet more hygge. My favourite thing from this book, is essentially that it tells you in order to be more hygge, you can eat more cake, and who doesn’t want to hear that? Especially as I LOVE to bake. Baking is very hyggelig, creating something from your cupboards which takes time means you put effort and care into what you will be eating, and can make you enjoy it more.
Slow cooking in a similar way to baking is hyggelig, again as it takes a long time to cook. Taking your time to make something can be really enjoyable, spending a rainy Sunday afternoon in the kitchen with a loved one making a roast and listening to your favourite music can be so satisfying. My boyfriend and I often take a meal each and cook together, he cooks the mains, and I’ll bake a pudding or cake, whilst enjoying each others company, and mess were both making.
Hot drinks are also very hyygelig, however, I feel like lots of people do this without realising. Coffee and tea are the most popular hot drinks we consume on a daily basis, usually on the go to and from work, and in the morning once we’ve woken up. But do you sit down, relax and cuddle up with a blanket and just enjoy the drink, and notice how warm and relaxed it makes you feel?
According to my book, the most important thing to have in your house is a ‘hyggekrog’ also known in english as a small place in your house, usually a windowsill wide enough to sit and relax, with cushions and blankets. (Cushions and blankets seem to be a repeatedly common feature to creating a hyggelig atmosphere). Although not everyone will have a hyggekrog, I’m sure theres a space in everyones house where they can create a small little area, made just for relaxing and reading a book.
Fireplaces are also ‘a must’ in order to create a cosy room, with a roaring fire in the winter, roasting marshmallows and warming your feet up against the flames when you’ve been out in the cold weather is something I can’t wait for when November comes. A fire alongside candles placed on top of the mantle piece give off such a warm light which give the room a comfy atmosphere, and the perfect place to cuddle up on the sofa to of an evening.
Interestingly, wooden furniture, and natural furniture and ornaments are a great thing to add to the home as they bring a natural element from the outside environment to our lives. So wooden tables, coffee tables and perhaps things you may find on a walk on a Sunday can make amazing decorations for table features, which bring the outside in.
Hygge on the cheap
Being a student, it’s great to find cheaper ways to create the same hyygelig effect, but without spending the earth, so this chapter has come in useful. It suggests different events and things to do, that won’t cost much, or anything in some cases, such as a tv night in with your friends or family, or getting all the old board games out of the cupboard, because who doesn’t have some stashed away in a messy corner somewhere?
Interestingly in a study that the book undertook, one of the happiest activities Danes uptake is “hunting, fishing, boating and hiking” which although may come at a cost if you don’t already own a fishing rod, boat or bike, I’m sure these things can be borrowed from someone who does own them. You could suggest to do these activities with your friends who do, making a hyggelig weekend outing. Similarly listening to music and playing with children were also the most popular, meaning some of the simplest things can change you’re mood, at no extra cost.
I’ve only touched upon a few things the book mentions, but I really loved this book and looking at ways in which I can tweak my life slightly in order to change my mood and environment. The photos in the book are all really gorgeous and comforting, making you want to instantly open the cupboard and make a batch of cupcakes, or change the layout of the lounge, bringing in more candles and blankets as you’ll be wishing you were sat in front of the fire like the lady on page 177 with her book and hot chocolate. Even if you do only make a subtle change like adding a couple of candles, or cooking more, it will make you feel more relaxed and ready to cuddle up with a hot drink after a stressful day at work, and I’ve definitely noticed the difference.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve made any changes and if they’ve made you feel any better? I’d love to know what changes you made.
Love Jaz x