Hygge What? And how it can benefit your overall wellbeing

Hygge, (pronounced hue-guh) is a Danish way of living that can be roughly translated to mean cosiness. It’s become very popular here in the UK recently and for very good reasons. Hygge is all about bringing a sense of overall satisfaction, wellness and calm into our everyday lives, who doesn’t want some of that? Hygge originates from Denmark, a country that has been voted the happiest country in the world. If Hygge can create a whole nation of happy beings, then we must surely give some of it a try!

Hygge is often associated with interior design, making your home and work space cosy. Using warm lighting, natural candles and materials, fireplaces and blankets will all help to create an atmosphere where people feel more relaxed and in a better mood. Hygge is much more than interior design though, it’s also about creating time and spaces for people to gather and enjoy each other’s company. People planning a Hygge evening would prepare slow cooked food for sharing, the process of preparing the food, all forms a part of a hygge event, a labour of love produced to help people feel a deep connection with one another. Each person bringing their own dish of food to share with others.

Hygge gathering

Hygge is also about embracing the outdoors, wrapping up on a wintery day, going for a brisk walk and enjoying the fresh air. Being in nature, trapesing through the woods, a stroll along a blustery beach, a hike that tires you out and really gets your heart pumping and your blood flowing. Then returning to a perfectly Hyggelig home, in the presence of gentle, comforting and soothing things, feeling warmth, contentment in a comfortable and cosy atmosphere.

Finally Hygge is about doing things that we know make us feel good, allowing ourselves time to just sit with a warm drink and reading a good book with our own company, time to just feel warm and cosy by the fire, giving ourselves permission to indulge in a slice of our favourite home made cake or biscuits, or time to lay in bed for those precious extra minutes at the weekends. What ever it is that can help you to feel more hygge, carve the time into your day to make that happen.

Hygge with a hot drink and a book

Hygge is a cultural practice that has shaped Danish people into being happier and more content, despite their shortened daylight hours in the winter months, why is this? I love to understand the science behind anything that is recommended as being good for our wellbeing and our mental health and there is plenty of research to support hygge and its benefits. All of my clients will be familiar with the three Ps, Positive thinking, Positive Action and Positive Interaction. These are all things that research has shown us will help to get our serotonin flowing, our feel-good chemical that helps us to feel positive, motivated, confident, calm and all of those other feel good adjectives. Hygge is all about these three Ps, having a time in the day to do something that we know will make us feel good will help us to think more positively too. Spending time with people that we feel connected to helps us to relax, we can laugh with them, have fun with them, chat and cry with them. As humans we are designed to be a part of a tribe, not on our own, when we feel this connection, we create oxytocin (the love hormone) which in turn releases serotonin. Finally, by spending time outdoors in a hygge manner we are being active in a positive way, we will not only create serotonin, but dopamine too which is associated with those natural ‘highs’ in life. We know from the latest research into neuroplasticity that if we repeat thoughts and behaviours that we know are good for us we can create new habits, new ways of being that will feel easy and natural to us. With this knowledge it is not such a surprise that the Danish people are as happy as they are.

So, by doing some relatively simple things on a regular basis we can make ourselves happier. Personally, I love everything about Hygge, I’ve made my home and therapy room to be as hyggelig as possible and I can honestly say it helps to make me feel more relaxed, my clients also comment on the cosy atmosphere when they arrive. I love a wintry walk and a good get together with family and friends, even more so when I can introduce the hygge concepts. Winter is well on its way, the days are colder and the nights are longer, if you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to introduce a little more hygge into your life, and start noticing how much happier you feel.

Leanne Leanne Astalos

About me

I have been working with children, adults and families for over 15 years, providing a range of therapeutic services and relaxation classes designed to create positive changes for the mind, health and self.

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Here you will find articles written by me that are my own thoughts influenced by the most up to date neuroscience, research and my experience as a therapeutic social worker and a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapist.

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