“Huzzah for Hygge: Key to Danish Self-Care”
One of my favorite English words is “huzzah,” since it freely and uniquely expresses joy. Happiness, as we know, is one of the major links to holistic health and longevity. Similarly, today’s blog will hopefully have you uttering “huzzah for hygge” as we describe what this Danish concept of hygge truly entails and offer you the “Nifty 9 Nordic Ways” to achieve more hygge in your life, whether you’re in North Dakota, Nepal, Nairobi, New Mexico, New Delhi, Nicaragua, Nebraska, Nantucket, New Zealand, Norway, Nevada, Nagoya, and everywhere in between!
Hooray for Hygge: What Is It?
Not to be confused with gross haggis in Scotland, hygge refers to the Danish and Scandinavian concept of self-care and minimalism that focuses on inner peace, not all the rings, blings, and things that we as an American culture tend to prioritize worship, and savor. Hahn (2019) encourages us all to “hygge it out” in the Washington Post article that reveals how hygge (pronounced HOO-ga) is one of the year’s most popular lifestyle trends that cultivate a sense of mindfulness, holistic wellness, relaxation, and comfort. Get your Zen on in Viking style and hooray for hygge!
Again, simplicity is the main premise of hygge as this concept fosters a “Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; hate less, love more; and all good things are yours” mantra and mindset (Jackson & Larsen, 2017). Hygge is actually Danish for seeking warmth, coziness, peace and harmony. Pretty hyped yet about hygge?
Nifty 9 Nordic Ways” To Apply More Hygge In Your Life:
Next, let’s “huzzah for hygge” by reviewing the “Nifty 9 Nordic Ways” to achieve more hygge in your life:
1. Serene Sips: Linger in a coffee shop or teahouse, something that’s quintessential Scandinavian. Visit Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and other areas to truly discover their multiple coffee breaks daily, not like our American “fast and furious” drive by runs typically. Instead, apply these hygge tips happily and humorously via face-to-face mindfulness sessions to promote human contact, deep conversations, empathy, and authentic communication (Carefoot, 2019). Approach your sips of tea and coffee serenely, not just shootings shots of expresso haphazardly or gorging gluttonous M&M cookies without guilt or self-awareness. Fruit cup and a mug of matcha, anyone?
2. Go Granola: Watch the sun set or rise, feed and birdwatch, walk, stroll, jog, bike, read, skateboard, or hike in nature. Nurture yourself in nature in whatever way you choose!
3. I Feel the Earth Move: The Danes embrace movement, and Scandinavians are usually quite active. Curb your couch potato poses and get moving, especially if you sit for prolonged periods of time while working, gaming, studying, watching TV, etc. Studies from CityBusiness Guest Perspective (n.d.) in the New Orleans CityBusiness (LA) urge us to simply get up and bust a move: “A change in surrounding scenery, sounds and smells can have a significant rejuvenating effect in a surprisingly short amount of time” (https://neworleanscitybusiness.com/blog/2015/09/08/do-you-work-at-a-desk-take-care-of-yourself/). Feel that Earth move, and you’ll surely live more mindfully as a result!
4. Fetch a Stretch: If you’re limited as far as your job and time, then opt for some simple stretches. Heck, it worked for Gumby, right? For me, setting reminders and timers propel me to move and groove! Whether you do it in connection with a clock, alarm, app, or certain hour, just do it!
5. Rooster Rousing: Speaking of alarms, I’m a total night owl, so this advice scared me initially. Hygge studies urge us to grab a slice of solace in the morning to start your day on a more mindful note. As a result, “Set your alarm a little earlier than usual so you can enjoy five to 15 minutes that are all for you. Focus on taking deep breaths to center yourself” (More Time for You, 2019, p. 1). 5 to 15 extra minutes won’t shatter your dreams of Mark Wahlberg, Selena Gomez or Kelly Rowland!
6. Candle in the Wind: Honor Sir Elton by lighting a candle or diffuser (literally) in one’s home or office, as light is one of the major hygge traits. Bigelow (2017) emphasizes how although there’s no English word for hygge, yet most people can relate to its meaning—a cozy sense of well-being, brought about by, for example, candles, a mug of hot chocolate, or a quiet evening with friends. Sounds precisely what I need tonight after a week of work woe, parenting pains, and family fiascoes!
7. Attitude of Gratitude: Maintain a gratitude jar, journal, scrapbook, or vision board. Findings from Law (2016) praise how gratitude exemplifies the art of cherishing oneself and others and embraces low-key actions like “baking, barbecues and candlelit dinners with friends to foraging, tree-climbing and wearing knitted socks in front of roaring log fires. In short, hygge is sanity” (p. 29). Thank you notes (not the ones indicative of Jimmy Fallon’s style), are also a fun way to add more hygge into your own life and daily rituals.
8. Home Alone: Forget the movie version. We’re talking about finding yourself in solitude to attain more hygge. Studies from Dennett’s (2019) “Working Towards Mindfulness” in Environmental Nutrition address how sitting silently with oneself can help you to stop living life on autopilot. When you’re aware of not just what’s going on around you, but what’s going on within you as far as your specific “thoughts, feelings, emotions and body sensations—you can unhook yourself from habitual patterns, giving you more choice in the actions you take” (p. 7). Heart’s “Alone” is one of my faves of all time. Ready to chillax with some music and hygge?
9. Hydrate for Hygge: Hydration is key to holistic health. Making yourself some spa water with fresh fruit will keep you nourished and invigorated. Water is particularly important each morning to jump start your day the healthy way, as Holland, Potter, Ollikainen, Anderssins, & Maddox (2017) further recommend to first wake up your gut with some hot water, fresh ginger, and lemon to boost your immune system and aid digestion. Then have a 60-second power shower to boost blood flow and oxygen levels (p. 23). H2O is the way to go!
Bigelow, D. (2017). Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness. Library Journal, 142(12), 63–65.
CAREFOOT, H. (2019). To Them, Cold’s a Snap: We Asked Ambassadors from Five Much Snowier Countries What They Do for Fun in Winter--And What They Think of the Season Here. Washingtonian Magazine, 54(4), 73.
CityBusiness Guest Perspective. (n.d.). Do you work at a desk? Take care of yourself. New Orleans CityBusiness (LA). Retrieved from https://neworleanscitybusiness.com/blog/2015/09/08/do-you-work-at-a-desk-take-care-of-yourself/
Dennett, C. (2019). Working Towards Mindfulness. Environmental Nutrition, 42(2), 7.
Hahn, Fritz. (1AD, Winter 2019). Cold? bitter? hygge it out. Washington Post, The.
Holland, R., Potter, B., Ollikainen, S., Anderssins, L., & Maddox, J. (2017). Respect Yourself: What’s your best self-care tip? Skin Deep, 16(6), 23.
Jackson, J., & Larsen, E. (2017). The Little Book of Hygge. Chichester, West Sussex: Summersdale.
Law, Kate. (2016, July 8). Have a hygge summer. Evening Standard, p. 29.
More Time for You. (2019). Good Housekeeping, 268(2), (Sp) 1.