By now, you've probably heard the term "hygge" -- but maybe you're unsure of just exactly what it means (not to mention, how to even say it!) Don't worry, we didn't really know either, so we decided to find out more about this Danish concept that seems to be getting so much buzz in recent years. Pronounced "hoo-gah," hygge can be described as a general feeling of comfort, coziness, relaxation, and well-being, according to an article in Healthline. Despite its freezing Nordic winters and days ending at 4pm, Denmark is ranked one of the happiest countries in the world year after year, so it's no surprise they've found a way to find the silver linings of a season that can sometimes be a struggle for many.
Don't be fooled, though -- hygge isn't just an excuse to hunker down or buy some new throw pillows. It's an actual a coping mechanism that serves an important role during a dark and cold season that can exacerbate mental health struggles. A.K. Pradeep, neuromarketer and author of The Buying Brain noted in an interview on CNBC's "Make It" that humans tend to crave anything that gives them a boost in the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. So, how to hygge this winter? Read on for a few simple ways to bring this cozy concept to your everyday.
One of the first tenets of hygge is to get close to loved ones and really get present, according to Healthline. Easier said than done during the hectic weekdays, we know, but even if it's just for a few minutes each day, turn off the devices and disconnect in order to connect. With a family member or friend, chat about your days, cook or bake together, or play a game. Turning off your phone, laptop, and TV at night can promote better sleep, which in turn enhances mood and overall well-being, Dr. Avery told CNBC. Wrap up in our Alpaca Reversible Wrap and read a story by the fire with your little one, or get lost in a game of pretend with this Roll Up Worry Doll Playset.
"Hygge-ing" also includes making your living space as cozy and comfortable as possible, notes Everyday Health. Environmental psychologist Sally Augustin, PhD, a principal at the Chicago-based design firm Design With Science, suggested dimming the lights, lighting some candles, or making a fire in the fireplace as long as its safe. Another idea: buying warm amber bulbs for your lamps and light fixtures. Candles not only create a warm, comforting glow, but have aromatherapy benefits. A study from Japan found that when women were exposed the the scent of rose or orange essential oils, it led to physiological relaxation in their brains, as well as increased feelings of comfort and relaxation. Treat yourself to our Love Notes Loaded Soy Candle, which has hints of rose, peony, bergamot, vanilla, plum and black raspberry, or our Soothe Lavender Mint Soy Candle, topped with crushed mint leaves and lavender buds, and finished with chunky violet salt.
While a big part of hygge is hunkering down inside, another piece is leaning into winter and embracing how rejuvenating and invigorating time in nature can be. Bundle up and try a chilly temps activity like skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, or ice skating. Winter sports not your thing? Not to worry -- a snowy stroll can also boost the spirits and clear the head, notes Healthline. Be sure to dress warm as you explore -- try our Hand Woven Winter Brights Scarf and Braided Knit Alpaca Hat for your wintry walk.
Lastly, hygge is in large part about slowing down enough to relish in the simple, small things that bring you joy: your hands wrapped around a coffee mug on a cold morning, the smell of bread rising in the oven, the first snowflakes dotting the ground. According to Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, hygge is about giving the responsible, stressed-out, Type A part of yourself a permission slip to pause and take a break. "It is about experiencing happiness in simple pleasures and knowing that everything is going to be okay," Wiking told Everyday Health. Even if it's just a small act of self-care like putting your hair up after a long day (check out our handmade Velvet Scrunchie Pack) or finally sitting down to write that overdue thank you note and express gratitude (see this set by Pen + Pillar) -- you'll find that sometimes the simplest acts can sometimes create the biggest impact.