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Hygge is a mentality, a lifestyle of balance

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I’m sat on my bed, blanket draped over my shoulders, fairly lights on, candle flickering against the pink dusky skies of sunset and I’m reading my book which transports me to a whole new world. Or I’m indulging in reruns of Gossip Girl, in my fluffiest socks with a big mug of earl grey, after taking a walk on a crisp bright winter’s day. My senses are overwhelmed by the aura of calm and serenity that takes charge of my being; this is my happy place.

We all have these moments where time almost appears to stand still and we take a second to appreciate our surroundings and the simple things in life that bring us joy. In lieu of a word to capture this sensation, we have adopted the Danish ‘hygge’ to recognise this awareness. Hygge is controversially pronounced hoo-gah, not hig, definitely not higee or hug. Although, a hug does sum up the experience of hygge pretty well. It is described as a feeling of cosiness, usually to be sought after during the seemingly-endless winter months, when hibernating away from the cold seems like the only logical solution. However, it is more than just lighting a few candles and resigning yourself to the sofa; hygge is a mentality, a lifestyle of balance that values self-love and wellness. It encourages you to eat well, but also to enjoy that naughty piece of chocolate cake you’ve had your eye on; to listen to your body and rest, but also to get out of the house and meet up with the girls for that parkrun you’ve been promising yourself you’ll do.

Alongside this balanced way of life, it is no shock that the Danes are some of the happiest citizens in the world. With Gen Z individuals suffering with stress more than any other generation, (social media, body standards, student debt, racism, Brexit, Trump, you name it, we. are. STRESSED.) it’s time we took a page out of the Danes’ metaphorical, and literal, book (see Urban Outfitters’ range of Pinterest worthy books on hygge at your nearest convenience). 

Hygge describes three key behaviours which lead to a lifestyle based on simplicity and balance. Firstly, self-love is a fundamental part of hygge: taking the time to do what makes you happy and to take care of yourself. Listening to your body is essential, whether that means letting loose once in a while, or conversely having an evening in and taking some time to yourself. It’s the understanding that it’s ok to say no and be selfish in focussing on you. Secondly, remembering that treating yourself once in a while is not a bad thing! Be positive and allow yourself to buy things that make you happy; a candle, a scarf, that pair of yoga leggings. If you’re worried that something isn’t trendy or you think other people won’t like it, it doesn’t matter! In the words of Marie Kondo, if it brings you joy, invest! However, simplicity is key. Investing in things that make you feel good, but that also do good, for example, eco-friendly products or high quality Fairtrade goods, will eradicate any feelings of guilt in your space. Thirdly, as much as a hygge-based lifestyle believes in taking time for yourself, it is also important to make sure you don’t literally hibernate, especially in the winter months! Whilst being cosy under the covers is the ultimate sensation of bliss, it is important to realign yourself with your friends but also with nature. Making the effort to maintain a balance is at the very heart of hygge.

In our modern and busy world, sometimes it’s hard to fully embrace hygge. It can seem like an unattainable mindset for anyone to achieve when life can get so busy. To make adopting hygge more realistic, we’ve put together some top tips to try to add to your daily routine, that will hopefully make for a positive change.

  • Spend 30 minutes of the day (your train to work, your lunch break or just before to go to sleep) doing something productive but also self-soothing. Reading, journaling or yoga are great examples and can really help to re-centre yourself and help you become aware of your body and your mind.
  • Tidy room equals a tidy mind, right? By setting yourself 8 minutes in the morning to tidy, you could be surprised by how a little organisation has a big impact on your mindset. It can also reduce the constant build up on clothes that always magically appears on your bedroom chair... This also maintains your home as place of sanctuary to return to after a busy day.
  • Social media is a menace that we are all addicted to; try to limit your scrolling! It can be second nature to wake up and check your phone or spend the last minutes of your day hooked on Instagram. Not only will you sleep better by avoiding this habit, but you’ll also be able to be more present in your daily life.
  • Try to schedule in one social activity every week, whether that be meeting a friend for dinner or spending an evening Netflix-and-chilling on their sofa. This will increase feelings of self-worth.
  • Whenever you can squeeze it in, choose to go for a walk. Perhaps get off the tube one stop earlier and walk into work every other morning, or go for a walk after lunch to avoid feeling sluggish. Don’t let the rain stop you!

Practicing the hygge lifestyle, even by adopting small elements of the Danish attitude, can lead to a positive mental transformation. By attempting to make the smallest of changes towards a simple and balanced life, moments of calm can be achieved in our busy world. The realisation that it is ok to be selfish with your own time is an important realisation to make; it is a fundamental step in caring for your mental wellbeing. Hygge champions your you-time and encourages you to appreciate the simple things that can bring you joy. So do as the Danes do, and get your hygge on!

Words: Tallula Lawrence-Bagnall 
healthy living lifestyle blog

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