Imagine this: it’s pitch black outside and a biting wind howls while pelting snow falls relentlessly. Inside, candles are lit and flickering, fuzzy blankets are piled up on the couch, and a small fire crackles away in the corner fireplace. You’re wearing your biggest, comfiest sweater while sipping on your favourite hot beverage, feeling completely content. Welcome to hygge.
Hygge (pronounced something like hue-guh) is a Danish word that is used to describe the feeling of contentedness and comfort, whether alone or with friends: a technique used to get through the long, dark Denmark winters. I’ve never been to Denmark, but if their winters are anything like Canadian winters (or worse), I totally get it. Right about mid-February, 100% of Canadians have had enough (not an official statistic). The dreaded seasonal affective disorder is at its peak, and all of us are sick and tired of our face hurting every time we go outside.
Winter is the season I struggle with contentment the most. I want to be anywhere but here come February. Yet when I embrace winter, I actually love lighting candles and turning on the fireplace channel, or bundling up to go outside and hear the snow crunch under my boots. Practicing contentment and gratitude for what we have is a significant piece of our well-being. Embracing the idea of hygge is simply one way to bring in joy.
I think there’s a lesson to be learned from the Danish here. We don’t have an equivalent word for hygge in English because the word conveys a feeling—when you are completely content, cozy and with a general sense of well-being. For some, this may be settling into a good book in a quiet house, for others, it’s tea with a good friend in a bustling coffee shop.
Plan to hygge this winter. Look forward to those moments at home or with friends when you feel warm and content. Practice gratitude and encourage others around you to do the same. Purchase fuzzy socks and warm blankets if necessary, and invest in a good quality tea or coffee. Bundle up while the sun is shining and get out there with your snowshoes or snowmen. Tuck away when the darkness sets in and set yourself up with relaxing forms of light and music.
You may even find yourself looking forward to next winter!
By Raina Beugellink – Registered Dietitian (Nutritionist)