By: Patricja Okuniewska
Photos by: Serena Pu
In the past year, you’ve probably heard the word “hygge” thrown around in conversation or on the covers of decorative, coffee table books. This little word happens to be a huge part of Danish culture, and has now infiltrated lifestyle jargon around the world. Pronounced “hoo-gah” it’s official Oxford definition is: “A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” However, quite simply, it can refer to a feeling of cosiness.
Although its popularity rises dramatically during winter, when fireplaces are lit and hot chocolate is sipped, hygge is certainly not restricted to any one season. The feeling can be enjoyed all year round with some easily acquired items and tips. After studying abroad in Copenhagen last semester, here’s what I learned about achieving that feeling of comfort and relaxation.
Not much can compare to a hot mug of a drink of your choosing when you need to destress. Whether it’s coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, the physical sensation of a warm drink is like no other. It is no surprise that tea and hygge are the staples of curing colds in Denmark. At any point in the day, but particularly the evening, curling up with a hot mug of tea will certainly help you unwind.
Cozy Home Items
Blankets and comfortable pillows in your living space are a necessity to make any home more cozy and livable. String lights, posters, and tapestries have also become common ways to personalize living spaces and definitely contribute to the calming effect your room or home should have. For during-the-day hygge, plants, open windows, and a lot of natural light are easy ways to boost happiness and contentment levels.
For me, comfortable clothes – aka pajamas and fuzzy socks – are essential to relaxation. As soon as I get home, I switch the jeans I am wearing for sweatpants, leggings, or pajama bottoms.
A great characteristic of hygge is that it can be personalized to fit the individual. For me, reading gives me a sense of contentment like no other. I love books that inspire me, and that leave me thinking even after I put them down. If you prefer a shorter term commitment, short stories or poetry are also great ways to distract your mind from schoolwork and let it think about something else instead. If you’re in it for the long haul, don’t be afraid to start a book! Some books I would recommend are: Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, and Lit by Mary Karr.
Remember that hygge doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be alone to achieve it. For Danes, hygge is often achieved when spending time with loved ones, having pleasant conversations, and making enjoyable memories. Don’t hesitate to include friends, family, or even strangers when using these tips to achieve communal coziness.