As the darker and autumn days approach, it's natural to feel a bit glum at the thought of a lack of brightness, cold grey weather and dark mornings and evenings. And today is no exception. It's one of those days where the sky is a silvery grey, clouds are low and everything just looks cold and eery. As I look to the view of the city from my skyrise desk, sipping on a deliciously decadent hot chocolate, I'm experiencing a moment of hygge.
Hygge, pronounced "Hoo-ga", is a phenomenon first documented in 18th-century Denmark that's been crucial to Danes ever since. It represents a culture of cosiness and wellbeing that may be behind why Denmark is regularly voted one of the happiest countries in the world.
Candlelight is hygge, bakeries are hygge and dinners with friends are hygge. Anything considered cosy is hygge. It's a Danish tradition that encourages people to spend time with their friends and family, and to appreciate, perhaps the smaller things in life. Hygge is widely spoken about and is taken very seriously, from hygge lighting to hygge design, the Danes aim to make spaces feel warm and relaxed.
So now you are aware of what it is, here's my little list of things you can do to embrace hygge this winter.
Snuggle Up to a Good Book
Use lighting to set the mood, either fairy lights or warm white bulbs to create the perfect hygge atmosphere. Settle into your favourite arm chair or cosy up with the dog in front of the fire and get lost in one of Jo Nesbo's nordic-crime thrillers. Perfect.
Reach Out to Friends and Family
Now this one is important. When it's cold and dark you start to feel the effects of isolation, but social interactions on a small and cosy scale are at the centre of hygge. Danes don't tend to go out in the winter months, so they socialise at each other's houses. Hygge is all about enjoying each other's company by keeping it simple with good food and good company. Sorry, no glamorous dinner parties!
Explore Your Surroundings
Winter is genuinely the best season to go outside and enjoy the beautiful landscape. You have no excuse, master the art of layering and get those boots on - you're going for a walk. Look into local forests or coastal trials to look at the stark beauty at this time of the year. Most importantly, inhale that sweet, sweet air.
Sock It to 'Em
Knitwear, knitwear, knitwear. Socks, gloves, jumpers, hats, you name it - everything's hygge. The softer the better, snuggle up in your woolies to achieve ultimate comfort.
Indulge in Decadence
You know bears eat, and eat, and eat in preparation for hibernation in the winter? Well hygge is all about indulging. It's no secret that Danes love their food by factoring endless amount of cake, pastries and cookies into hygge. If you're in London, head to Fabrique for naughty but necessary treats to give in to those sugar cravings.
Curl up in your hygge hideaway and journal in your favourite notebook for all the things you're thankful for. Want to end your day with clear intentions, a positively focused mindset and conscious reflection? Look to Passion Planner, designed to be your goal-setting partner-in-crime.
Inhale the Good Shit
Use a diffuser with essential oils to fill a room with cosy smells or burn a sweet-smelling cinnamon candle, hygge is all about making your home smell amazing. My go-to is Cowshed's Knackered-Cow Relaxing Room Fragrance - not only will the eucalyptus lift you up but the lavender will help you to relax, unwind and give you the best night's sleep ever. FACT.
So there you have it, a short but sweet achievable list of hygge things to do. Us Brits moan, whinge and tut our way through life but if we injected a little bit of Danish divinity into our lives, perhaps we'll do less tutting and more smiling?