Hygge: Denmark’s Big Mental Health Trend

Although there is no literal translation, the Danish word hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) means a feeling of intimacy and contentment. It’s about creating feelings of happiness, friendliness and well-being, according to this article in Country Living UK. It’s about finding deeper meaning within ordinary life and establishing a meaningful connection with the world, which can help with such mental health challenges as depression and anxiety. Hygge is not about grand gestures but small luxuries every day in order to foster a sense of familiarity and kinship. Here’s how:

1. Spend quality time with friends and family

We all know that having a good time with people we love makes us happy. But when was the last time you sat around a big table with all of your nearest and dearest and shared stories until the wee hours?

2. Sit by a roaring log fire

Few things evoke feelings of cosiness and warmth more than a roaring fire during the coldest months. A proper “hyggeligt” (translate: cosy) fire should, of course, use real wood.

3. Keep things simple

Why spend hours cooped up in the kitchen. Do things the Danish way and keep the food simple, whether that be a heart-warming soup or simple roast chicken, always opt for something delicious that can be cooked with minimum fuss.

4. Dim the lights and use candles instead

Danes love candles. The flickering flames create an ephemeral glow and add a brooding sense of atmosphere to even the dankest room.

5. Decorate the inside with the outside

Here at Country Living, we believe a happy, healthy life is one lived within nature. But sometimes it’s just too chilly to go outside. To counteract this, Danes are big fans of bringing the outdoors inside: Think exposed stone walls, wooden floors, huge tables made from great trees and, of course, big piles of logs ready to be thrown on a roaring open fire.

6. Bake bread

The smell of a freshly baked rustic loaf wafting through the house is about as hygge is it gets.

7. Drink cocoa

Preferably stirred slowly over a hot stove and made using fine, real chocolate, cream and milk, then decentered into big mugs and consumed in your cosy living room with friends.

8. Don’t deprive yourself

Hygge is all about indulging in the good things in life, the things that make us happy – which, yes, often means eating cake and pastry.

9. Get outside

Don’t be fooled, it may be chilly outside but there’s more to hygge than staying cooped up indoors.

10. Pick up a book

Although hygge encompasses a feeling of familiarity and togetherness, you can still achieve it alone. There are few things more hygge than cuddling up under a blanket and getting stuck into a book.

11. Put down the iPhone

Hygge is the antidote to modern life. It’s about embracing these experiences fully and living in the moment, which is difficult to do when staring at a teeny weeny screen.

Adam Wahlberg

Founder of Think Piece Publishing