5 Ways To Make Your Life More 'Hygge'

5 Ways to Make Your Life More 'Hygge'

The Danish Lifestyle of Self-care

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The happiest countries in the world just so happen to be those that make up Scandinavia. Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, etc. These countries have made the top of the list for many years now, and it isn't by coincidence.

Though they may go by a different name, these countries follow a lifestyle called Hygge. Pronounced (hue-guh), Hygge is a Danish lifestyle based on living in the moment, being cozy, and spending time either alone or with close friends.

To Hygge does not have to involve just sitting alone in your room covered in a pile of blankets with burning candles and a mug of hot tea, although that is the version I prefer, it can also involve preparing and enjoying a hearty meal with your friends.

With finals approaching and seasonal depression setting in, some may find Hygge a nice, organic stress-reliever, much like meditation. On weekends and nights off, instead of going out and partying, staying in and taking time to be in the present and just simply relax may be what you needed.

Here are a few suggestions on how to Hygge

1. Cozy Blankets

My favorite aspect of Hygge is the appeal of texture. I am someone who is extremely sensitive to certain textures, so in order to fully relax and be cozy, I have to surround myself with soft materials. These can include blankets made of fleece, Sherpa, or those giant knitted blankets. A good tip for washing soft blankets, or any soft materials, is to wash them with towels and then let them air dry. That way, they don't pill or turn nasty!

2. Get Out of Day Clothes and into Pajamas

I never could understand how someone could come home and throw on jeans and "relax." I can surely take a nap in jeans if I'm tired enough, but when I'm trying to relax, the last thing I want to be wearing is clothes that are tainted by a stressful vibe. I'm the type of person to immediately change into my pj's when I'm done my tasks for the day, even if that means getting ready for bed at 3 p.m.!

Wearing pajamas means also wearing fuzzy socks! You can find them for cheap at Walgreens or CVS. If you're looking to splurge, Francesca's sells Slipper Socks lined with Sherpa. They also have a bunch of other adorable cozy socks and pj's.

Target sells Pajama Sets that come with a long sleeve shirt, shorts, socks, and a beanie! If that isn't the most amazing thing you've ever heard of Target selling, I don't know what is!

3. Hot Drinks

If your Hygge routine takes place in the morning, then you may want to go with a large mug of coffee or caffeinated tea. But if you're winding down from a long, stressful day, then hot cocoa or a calming tea like chamomile with some honey may be a better option.

Holding a mug of hot liquid is said to be calming in the action itself. Max Brenner actually made a mug specifically for this action and to appease to the senses, called the Hug Mug. It's perfectly shaped to fit into your hands and to sip.

4. Lighting and Sound

Turn off the offensive fluorescent lighting that haunts dorm rooms and reminds us of stress. Hygge is about ambiance as well. Bright white and blue lights keep us awake and also prevent our minds from ever relaxing. Warm hues like yellow-white lights are better and create a certain warmth to the room that imitates fire-glow where it cannot be had. Amazon sells amazing Tumblr aesthetic Curtain Lights that are super easy to hang with Command Hooks, safe to keep on for extended periods of time and emanate a soft, warm glow. Twinkle lights that use warm-hued lighting also work, as do table lamps.

If your living space allows candles, these work perfectly as well, especially if you don't have a fireplace. You can arrange candles of different heights to look like a fire, or just burn one or two on your bedside table to give light and also give off a scent you love. Besides candles that smell like food, Capri Blue's Volcano Candle is my favorite scent. Scandinavians actually burn the most candle wax annually because of their Hygge lifestyle. If you cannot have candles or incense burners, oil diffusers or electric wax warmers work perfectly as well.

If you're not someone who likes a lot of noise but also can't stand complete silence, you may want to check out Ambient-Mixer. It's a free website where you can create your own ambient tracks (think of white noise) or choose from thousands of pre-made tracks. Some even include your Hogwarts House's Common Room, Jane Austen at work, or sleeping next to your favorite celebrity or fictional character.

You can also put on a vinyl record and listen to that on low, listen to that Podcast you've been meaning to catch up on or listen to an Audiobook.

5. Do What You Love

Hygge should be an opportunity to do what you love, but don't get to usually do during busy periods. Like, reading a book, binging a Netflix series or watching beloved movies, writing poetry or the novel you've been trying to start, or painting the image that's been in your mind for weeks.

These are examples of what you can do alone, but you can also spend quality time with friends or your partner. Cook or bake together, or perhaps just cuddle up on the couch and watch a movie.

There is no right or wrong way to Hygge. It is all up to you on how you go about it, so long as you take time to be in the moment and relax. It does not require you to go out and spend money unless you want to, and you don't even have to set time aside in your busy schedule to Hygge. It can be as small as making yourself a cup of coffee in the morning and sitting down to drink it instead of rushing out the door with it.

There are plenty of suggestions on how to Hygge. There are even Books written about Hygge, as well as other Scandinavian practices. The most important thing about Hygge is to relax and be happy.

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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A Few Birthday Thoughts

Goodbye teenage years, hello twenties!

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So, it is looking like I am about to leave my teenage years behind. I think that I want to reflect back on this time in my life and think about what I want to keep with me in my twenties and maybe some things I can let go. My teenage years have been full of love from my family and friends; hard work to make good grades in school and creating art. I developed several great friendships that I have held on to across the miles even though I went to college 14 hours away from our previous home. I am so thankful for the friendships I have made in college as well.

It seems like friends you make in your childhood and younger years can really stand the test of time. Maybe it is because when you became friends you were truly who you were. Everyone was genuine and didn't put up walls to protect themselves. You got to know someone on a deeper more personal level more quickly than if you had met later in life. I also think we laughed even more as children and that always creates good memories to look back on. So I think in my twenties I will try to hang on to the "childish" way of making friends. I will try to show my true self and will accept them for who they are, and we will laugh....a lot.

I think a good thing to let go of is always trying to make dead-end relationships work. When we were children on the playground and we tried to play a game together or jump rope and it just wasn't working, we would run off and find someone else. It was easy. It was just natural. Now sometimes I find myself trying to stay in a relationship by being overly nice, giving gifts, trying to find what pushes the persons "good" buttons. I might spend so much time trying to figure this person out that I leave out more solid relationships that are worth my time. So in my twenties, I will try to be more realistic about who to spend my time on. Some people are just never going to stand the test of time. I can continue to be cordial but won't let them rule my time and thought life.

As children, we loved our parents and siblings and would show love to them in a myriad of ways. Maybe it was hugs, pictures on the fridge, good night kisses, playing games, or just quality time spent together as a family. Starting my twenties, I am mature enough to realize the value of these people in my life. Thankfully, I have always known this. I was never the type that was embarrassed if someone saw me walking with my Mom or Dad or being dropped off in the Mom Van somewhere. I always knew these people loved me more than anyone else I was about to meet. But in my twenties, I plan to keep up with my family even when I am eight hours away from them. We are never too old to need the love of family.

As weird as it is to say goodbye to my teenage years, it's honestly helped me to soak in the precious moments of everyday life and treasure them even more. Every year when birthdays come around, it always serves as a reminder how quickly the days, months, and years fly by. I think that has been one difficult part of this birthday season. It's hard to say goodbye to the past, without a clear map of the future. But, I must remind myself that this is why growing up is a beautiful thing- as we live life and experience new things, we are better prepared for what the future may hold. Everything that I have experienced in my 20 years has served an important purpose- to make me into the person I am supposed to become. Yes, life is always changing and so am I... and change can be hard. Very hard. But one thing to remember is God is always constant. He will never change. No matter what number is on your birthday cake, He is always there...the same God yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the Rock that we will always be able to cling to. Isn't that a wonderful thought? Even if we don't know what's in His plans for us in the coming year, it's important to make Him a part of our plans. Rather than worry about change, let's embrace it all- the good and the bad- and look to the Lord to see how He will guide and shape us.

Teenage years- the time has come. I must say goodbye to you now. But, you will never be forgotten. I will hold your memories in my heart forever. Twenties- I am excited for all that awaits me.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9

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