Try Adding Hygge to Your Self-Care Practice

By Pat Drake, Faith Community Nurse at SOTV

As the long, dark winter nights and cold temps settled in, I began reading the book, The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking. The Danish author, wrote, “Hygge is all about experiencing things we know are good for lowering stress and boosting our wellness.” Wow. I stumbled across a book that explains hygge is a way to practice self-care.

Hygge (pronounced HOO-gah) is about creating a cozy, comforting physical and emotional environment for yourself. It’s more a philosophy or mindset; one that makes ordinary everyday moments feel special, pleasurable, and meaningful. Hygge is about who you choose to surround yourself with and what you choose to spend your time doing.

How do you get started with creating the hygge effect? It’s really up to you. The important thing to remember is that your environment does influence how you feel and you can take control of your environment. That taking control aspect is really important, especially when one feels there are so few things within your control.

To achieve hygge in my own home, I began by trying some of the strategies listed below.

Lighting: At home, dim the lights, add lots of candles (wax and artificial), and make it a ritual to light the candles each evening. Make a fire in the fireplace if you have one. Use whatever is appropriate for the time of year. I rearranged lights in my environment until it brought feelings of warmth and soothing calm to me. Twinkling lights and colored lights may provide the feeling too.

Make yourself comfortable: Add flannel or fleece blankets, pillows, and throws to your home environment to snuggle in. Go casual and wear comfy, loose shirts, thick socks that keep your feet warm, and chunky sweaters to burrow in. I sought out soft textures that felt good against my skin.

Relish the here and now: I found it hard to turn off the phone and other digital devices to focus on the present moment. Yet it is very rewarding to have no distractions for a few hours. Sip a warm drink taking in the flickering candle lights. Listen to music that soothes your heart and soul. Treat yourself to good scents that have a calming effect such as lavender, rose, jasmine, bergamot.

Create a nook for you to retreat to: Place a favorite book, photos, devotional book, and a green plant nearby. My nook is near a window so I may look out at the bird feeders during the day and gaze upon the moon if I’m reading a book late into the night.

Seek nourishment: Food and beverages are a big part of the hygge experience. Remember it’s about pleasure, so go ahead and enjoy hot chocolate, warm tea, sweets, cake, and other tasty treats. The cooking and baking and the smell of fresh baked goods added more enjoyment while staying at home.

Set aside time to reach out to others: Recognize that time spent together – whether talking, listening, or laughing with one another (or playing with a pet) – is key to practicing hygge. The socialization you experience aids in feeling involved and supported.

I hope you will try hygge, because creating a cozy and comfy environment for yourself is essential for self-care; and it may leave you with a feeling that everything is going to be okay.