Consistently ranked one of the happiest countries in the world, Denmark is the epicentre of a heart-warming way of living called “hygge” (pronounced: hoo-ga). Although there is no exact translation to English, the word “cosy” comes close and it relates to “hug.” Designing a cosy environment in your home or office, enjoying the simple things like the company of friends and family, taking the time to unwind, and slowing down the pace of life are all central to hygge. Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and author of The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, says that “hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things.” But, there are elements you can add to your own space that’ll help you embody the lifestyle principles – like keeping a Hygge Emergency Kit (a stash of items to pull out on the evenings when you want some quality alone time). Here, we break down a few of them for you.
Light a Candle
“No recipe for hygge is complete without candles,” Wiking says in the very first chapter of the book. Turning down the lights and lighting a candle is the fast track to hygge-ing and the first thing you should do to transform your atmosphere. A lavender-scented candle instantly brings a sense of tranquility to your space (we love this one from This Works). It’s impossible not to enjoy the warming glow of its flame and relaxing effects of the essential oils’ aroma. Smell is also a big part of hygge – if a particular scent reminds you of a memory or time and place when you felt safe and comfortable, then it “smells like hygge.”
Don’t Deprive Yourself
Enjoying the little pleasures in life also means being kind to yourself and indulging in sweet treats. Danes are crazy about all things confectionery and associate treats like gummy sweets and liquorice with hygge, according to Wiking. Not getting too hung up on the demands of eating healthy and taking the opportunity to delight in the taste of your favourite sweet snack is well-deserved by everyone.
Cosy Up With a Cup of Tea
Does anything sound better than sipping a cup of hot tea while wrapped in a warm, cosy blanket? Relish in steeping a cup of your favourite calming brew. Item number three on Wiking’s Hygge Emergency Kit list, tea perfectly ties into the hygge philosophy of comfort and the joy of taking a break.
Make Time to Unwind
Although hygge does encourage togetherness and familiarity, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it on your own. There are few things more hygge than taking a moment for a personal pamper session. Apply a sheet mask like Yes To Cucumbers Calming Paper Mask or repair your strands with a hair treatment like the amika Nourishing Mask. Slather on some ELEMIS Exotic Frangipani Monoi Body Cream and maybe even paint your nails while you’re at it with Smith & Cult’s Nail Lacquer. Embracing hygge is also appreciating downtime like this.
Create a Hygge Playlist
There’s nothing like some tunes to set the mood. Creating a playlist that’ll complement an evening spent with friends around the fireplace or an hour by yourself de-stressing your mind and body invites even more cosiness and positive vibes into the room.
Bring the Outdoors In
Danes counteract the long Scandinavian winters by bringing elements from the outdoors inside (think: anything made out of wood, including (quite literally) natural items like twigs, nuts, plants, etc.). Something about wooden objects, like the smell of a fireplace, “Makes us feel closer to nature; it is simple and natural, just like the concept of hygge,” Wiking says. English Laundry’s Signature EDP perfectly embodies the fresh, appealing scent of the great outdoors with notes of rose geranium and creamy white flowers set against a woody-spicy backdrop. With just a few spritzes it instantly uplifts and comforts at the same time.
Have a Good Book Handy
Another necessary item for your Hygge Emergency Kit: a book. After a long day, getting lost in the pages of your favourite novel, biography, or how-to guide (maybe even The Little Book of Hygge) will instantly put you at ease. And don’t just skim it – that wouldn’t be very hygge of you. Just let the story unfold and take it all in, even that old (or new) book smell.
Unplug from Your Technology
For many of us, our devices are our lifelines. But, putting down your phone and turning off your computer — even for just an hour — is crucial. While that seems like a long time without a screen, it’ll help you learn to be more present in your physical versus digital space, which is important in hygge. So you won’t be tempted to peek during those 60 minutes, popping on a sleep mask will make it very clear that you’re off duty.
Fill Your Space With Pillows
Pillows and big blankets are necessary in any hygge household to evoke warmth and being snug. Make them feel even cosier with This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray, which is packed with calming ingredients like lavender, patchouli, and chamomile. It’ll help lull you into relaxation (or a full-on nap) even faster. The scent also brings a sense of peacefulness and security, essential to making your home more “hyggellig” (nice), according to Wiking.
– Francesca Conlin