When you think about lounging around, feeling cozy, and just...being, how would you feel if we told you there actually exists such a practice? In a busy, busy world, when it comes to making time for yourself and decompressing from all things stressful, we’re thinking it may be time to practice the art of hygge (pronounced HOO-GAH or HUE-GUH). The practice originates from Denmark and Norway, giving us a clue as to why that part of the world has been rated as the happiest on Earth! Hygge, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “is a quality of coziness that makes a person feel content and comfortable. It's also often used as an adjective meaning ‘cozy or comfortable.’” In a day where we tend to gravitate towards staying digitally connected, using our gadgets, staring at our screens, and generally staying disconnected from humans, hygge has transcended the globe as an activity we didn’t even realize the doctor ordered!
Meik Wiking is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, as well as the author of The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well. He has studied the Danish way of life for years, and is an expert on all things hygge - he even created The Hygge Manifesto. Despite the outline seeming like a hard and fast set list of rules, Wiking exclusively told Ellie that it’s not really to be thought about as principles, per se. “I would say that the hygge manifesto is thought of as [an] inspirational guideline,” he said. “Not thinking of a set of rules, but just to enjoy [the] simple pleasures in life.” From ambient candlelight and the idea of ‘we’ over ‘me’, to the emphasis on comfort and the awareness of gratitude, the manifesto offers a helpful roadmap answer to the ongoing question of how to truly enjoy the details of life.
Even though hygge is meant to be the conscious choice of ‘we’ over ‘me’, what if we applied this guideline to the idea of self-care? What if we explored the idea of the often unattainable — yet coveted — me time? We’re giving you our take on hygge as a function of self-care and alone time:
Turn down the lights. Self-care manifestation: Sitting in a cozy darkened or dark room is the perfect setting for you to queue up your favorite meditation app and clear your mind. Leave your racing mind on the shelf and listen to the beauty of silence!
Take it in. This might be as good as it gets. Self-care manifestation: They say being grateful for things — even the minutiae — yields more things to be grateful for. You may have heard this before, but now is the time to reflect on all of the things you do have. We spend plenty of time thinking about the things that could be better, but what about the things that are going well in our lives?
It’s not a competition. We already like you. There is no need to brag about your achievements. Self-care manifestation: Take your time of solitude to shift your focus from feeling the need to live up to some grand external expectations to deciding to compete against yourself! Take the time to build a fierce plan to reach your goals, and focus on your own achievements.
Get comfy. Take a break. It’s all about relaxation. Self-care manifestation: This one’s easy. Just. Stop. It’s important to schedule time to just sit still. Relish in the stillness, in the doing of nothing! Warning: You’re going to be tempted to reach for your phone or other gadgets — do yourself a favor and don’t do it.
No drama. Let’s discuss politics another day. Self-care manifestation: Turn. Off. The. News. With so much going on in the world — so many opinions, heightened emotions, and significant issues at the forefront — you have to force an off switch in your life. Too much of the noise is unhealthy, so turn it off for a little while, and reconnect with the fundamental qualities that you embody. Once you’re ready to get back out there, you’ll feel more at peace about it all.
Build relationships and narratives. ‘Do you remember the time we…?’ Self-care manifestation: Since we are applying this to alone time, this is a great opportunity to deepen your relationships by first reflecting on them. In what ways would you like to improve your relationships — with friends, loved ones, coworkers — so that you have better communication and overall satisfaction? What are you looking to improve? What do you think they could stand to change? Are you willing to talk to them about it? Maybe even pull out a journal and write down some ways in which you plan to approach your relationships in a better way.
This is your tribe. This is a place of peace and security. Self-care manifestation: Exhale and take this quiet time to be thankful for the roof over your head. Not everyone is in the same boat. Invite yourself to feel the peace and safety in your space. Keep that feeling with you each time you come home to your shelter.
Every day, we are in the habit of going from point A to B - and then C through Z! We’re no strangers to staying active, and busy days are a daily reality. Trying to carve out time to decompress sounds like somewhat of a dream. Using the guidelines outlined above ( designed for a gathering of people), and applying them to carved out solitude, will help you connect with yourself, and, in turn, others.
To learn more about the cozy practice of hygge, please refer to the book, The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking.