Whenever I think about the oncoming fall and winter, hygge immediately comes to mind. It’s the Danish concept of comfort, contentment, and coziness that calls to mind a picture of warm sweaters, a favorite drink or snack, perfect temps, and time spent enjoying moments of relaxation. Hygge is the art of introspection and self-care, an opportunity to be truly present and intentional in the way we connect with both ourselves and others.
Summer 2020 was rough because it was so obviously different from those of years past, marked by anxiety, isolation, and a constant reminder of everything we were missing out on. Gone were the days of park picnics, barbecues with friends and family, trips to exotic locales, and outdoor concerts. This pandemic has really demonstrated how much we have all taken for granted, showing each and every one of us how meaningful “the small things” are. Who would have thought that the pleasure of munching on popcorn in a dark movie theater or sitting in a coffee shop waiting for a friend would be things that could fill us with incredible longing?
The reality is that we still have a long way to go before things start to resemble the world we were used to pre-COVID. Things will never be the same again, and some of that is okay because not everything about our world was as great as it should be. We are being forced to adapt, and some of these changes are showing us that it is possible to live in a different way.
Hygge, a concept founded on creating intimacy and finding joy in simplicity, might be just the thing that we need to get through the fall and winter in a pandemic.
In my opinion, turning to concepts like hygge might be just the thing that we all need to get through the oncoming fall and winter in a pandemic. My reasoning is that a concept founded on creating intimacy and finding joy in simplicity will focus our energy on enjoying the indoors rather than experiencing FOMO about all the activities we could be partaking in outside. In fact, hygge was created to help Danes and Norwegians get through cold, dark, mind-numbingly boring winters, and so it’s a perfect practice to take on for the fall and winter seasons in a pandemic.
There are a number of ways you can incorporate hygge into your life, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all thing. Different actions and experiences hold different meanings for each of us. But the art of hygge is so broad that you’re guaranteed to find a way to fold it into your life.
Create a Simple Routine For Yourself
You might already be doing this without realizing it. Perhaps you like to begin the day basking in the quiet that comes with the early hours of the morning. As you stand over your kitchen sink sipping coffee, looking out of the window and into the world, be intentional in your appreciation of that small comfort. The process that begins with putting the kettle on and laying out your brewing paraphernalia and ends with you standing over that sink is your ritual.
And sometimes it’s not an activity that you particularly enjoy but have found a way to make a little less unpleasant. For example, I enjoy having a clean and organized environment, but spending hours cleaning is not my idea of fun. To make it bearable, I listen to my favorite podcasts while I make my way through the activity. It makes the time pass quicker, and now I have a scheduled podcast + cleaning ritual that I don’t completely loathe. In addition to being about comfort, hygge is also about embracing the drudgery of everyday life in a way that makes these repeated actions feel effortless.
Do Things You Enjoy
If you think about it, participating in established routines like a monthly movie night with friends is an activity that represents what hygge is all about. So is date night with your significant other. In that hour and a half or more where you’re snuggled up on a couch with popcorn, you’re content and happy. And even if the movie is terrible, you still enjoy the experience because you’re surrounded by people who care about you and who you care about in return. There are few things better than a weekend sleepover with friends, where everyone lounges around in their pajamas while playing games, chatting, or watching a movie. Minimal effort, maximum satisfaction.
Pile on the Comfort
This is the more obvious way to apply hygge in the fall season. Take advantage of the cooler temps and lack of social activity to create a cozy nest for yourself indoors. Invest in some comfy loungewear to work or study in, take breaks to stretch and rest your eyes when you need to, eat nutritious meals, hydrate, and of course, try to get at least eight hours of sleep at night. Create an ambient atmosphere by forgoing harsh electric lighting for the soft glow of candlelight, and put on one of those Spotify playlists specially curated for work mode. Hygge says, “Yeah, you’ve gotta work. But those hours don’t have to absolutely suck.”
Find a New Hobby
We’ve all got so much more time on our hands now that commutes and more have been cut out of our workweek. One thing a lot of us have in common right now is the constant boredom now that there aren’t endless brunches to go to.
If you’re lucky to have a passion project that you’ve been putting off, this is the time to get to it. Investing time and effort in something that you’re truly interested in is a great way to channel unused energy. Not only will you be checking a project off your list, but the fulfillment that comes with accomplishment will put you in a better headspace and encourage you to tackle other tasks.
If you’ve never really had a hobby, you can explore different ones to find the one that suits you best. Tie-dyeing is all the rage right now, so maybe you could teach yourself how to do that if you’d like. Or maybe you’ll take up felting and realize that it’s the perfect pastime for you.
Find Your Own Hygge
Hygge is all around you. It’s something you can participate in alone or with others, with no need to purchase any fancy tools—except maybe snacks to munch on while you read or watch a movie. I believe that making intentional living and connectedness lifetime habits can put us all on the path to much-needed recovery from the onslaught of the current pandemic. We could all benefit from learning how to live as deeply as possible within the confines of our individual circumstances. Tap into your personal wellspring and explore what hygge means for you.