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Why a little Hygge goes a long way

Updated: Feb 18, 2021

As the winter lockdown continues we could do worse than look to Scandinavia for inspiration and ideas as to how we might embrace the next weeks and months.

Denmark is consistently ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world alongside other Scandinavian countries and one concept that is very popular is ‘Hygge’.

Hygge isn’t easy to define, but it is about experience, coziness and atmosphere rather than material things. It is also about feeling safe and being with those we care about and can be summed up perfectly by A. A. Milne when Winnie the Pooh was asked how to spell a certain emotion - ‘You don’t spell it, you feel it’.

We can all take elements of Hygge to focus on and support our wellbeing currently:

Atmosphere - 'Turn down the lights’

Candles and Hygge go hand in hand with 28% of Danes lighting candles every day with candle usage increasing threefold during December. The glow of a candle can give such joy and embodies that feeling of coziness. Light more generally, is important in Hygge and the placement and use of lamps can be calming and help to break up the long dark days we all experience.

Pleasure - ‘Coffee, chocolate, biscuits and cake………’

Hygge is about being kind to yourself, giving yourself a treat and a break from the demands of healthy living. Something ‘naughty’ is an integral part of Hygge. It doesn’t have to be fancy or extravagant and it’s even more important when it can be shared with others. Hot drinks are associated with Hygge – especially hot chocolates and mulled wines.

Presence - ‘Be here now - turn off the phone’

Being present means fully enjoying the moment. It is the time when you are calm and know exactly what you want. You are focused on what you’re doing without thinking about anything else. Examples of this are - practicing mindfulness or yoga, enjoying the daily rituals that give you pleasure and unplugging from all things digital.

Gratitude - ‘Take it in, this might be as good as it gets’

Research has shown that those that feel grateful are not only happier but are more helpful, forgiving and less materialistic. Keep a notebook and think about writing down what you are grateful for, what you have achieved that week, what you are proud of.

Comfort - ‘Get comfy, take a break, it’s all about relaxation’

Comfort is key to Hygge and this is enjoyed through the clothing that people wear. Winter is the perfect time to enjoy wooly hats and scarfs, big jumpers and lots of layers. When at home wear your favourite comfy clothes, big socks and slippers and wrap yourself up in a blanket.

Shelter - ‘This is your place of peace and security’

71% of Danes experience the most Hygge at home and there are some very specific ways to make your home more Hygge. Have a ‘hyggekrog’ – this is a place where you can relax and be calm, this could be a fireplace or a comfortable chair.

The top ten things Danes associate with Hygge:

  1. Hot drinks

  2. Candles

  3. Fireplaces

  4. Christmas

  5. Board games

  6. Music

  7. Holiday

  8. Sweets and cake

  9. Books

  10. Sundays

Let’s not be defined by the weather or the situation around us but control what we can, enjoy the simple pleasures in life, take things more slowly, look after others and be grateful for our family, friends and the beauty of the world around us.

If you would like to talk through how else you can support your wellbeing please do get in touch with our Director of Wellbeing, Gemma Carter-Morris on

Gemma Morris, Director of Wellbeing, Next Steps Consulting

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