The clocks have gone back, the evenings shroud our world in darkness so much earlier and the days are cold and grey. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the not so picture-perfect side of Autumn. And with another lockdown gripping the UK meaning that we are again mostly confined to our homes, it is more important than ever to make sure that the space we are spending our time in is somewhere that is safe and comfortable.
The Danes have been perfecting this for years with the art of hygge. Pronounced ‘hoo-gah’, this practice is all about being cosy and together and for Danes, it is not just a trend but a way of life and doesn’t just pertain to interior decor. For instance, you know that pair of saggy-kneed trackies that are actually gross to look at but feel like a warm hug when you wear them all Sunday whilst watching documentaries on Netflix and eating cheese (... it can’t just be me right?) Those are called hyggebukser. How about that perfect cosy nook in your house where you enjoy your Under The Covers book of the month? That would be a hyggekrog. In fact, you can sprinkle a dash of hyggelig (hygge-like to us non- Danish speakers) on almost all aspects of our life, making it snugglier, softer and generally that little bit lovelier.
In fact, hygge has been linked to a whole host of benefits which may help explain why the Danes are perpetually considered one of the happiest nations in the world. As it promotes the creation of peaceful and calm environments, it isn’t surprising that living in such spaces will make us feel safer, calmer and could help reduce anxiety which is so widely felt these days. Physically, being more mindful and present in a positive physical space can help us sleep better, feel more creative and productive and generally look after our health and well-being in a kinder and more holistic way.
And the effect is a lot simpler to achieve than you might think. You don’t need to redecorate and upend your entire life. A few easy touches can make all the difference in lifting your mood by embracing a bit of cosiness. Here are some of our team’s top tips for embracing a more hyggelig lifestyle.
Lighting is such an important element of a living space and can be quite tricky to get right. Think of the bright lights of a massive supermarket- they don’t exactly scream contentment. Soft lighting from a few different sources that creates beautiful pools of gold helps soften the space and fill it with warmth. Working fireplaces are wonderful of course, but for those of us who aren’t lucky enough to have one of those knocking about, candles, fairy lights and reading lights are great alternatives for bringing a lovely radiance.
Texture makes such a huge difference to how we feel. Try mixing natural fabrics and materials to add a wonderfully tactile dimension to your home. Draping a crinkled linen throw over your sofa, adding a floaty curtain or encasing yourself in soft loungewear can help you relax and calm your anxieties by making you feel safe and snug.
It’s not about redecorating the entire house or spending a fortune on accessories. It is about treasuring the meaningful items and knickknacks and embracing how they make you feel. Just how decorating the Christmas tree with the ornaments my children have made over the years fills me joy. Fill your space with memories, artwork, photos and all things that make you feel a greater connection.
And bring the outdoors in! Plants are a great way of giving a tired space a new lease of life.
There are lots of great home-based activities to make you feel cosy this Autumn. Think long afternoons spent reading wrapped in a blanket, stirring together delicious warming soups and taking time to self-care. However, getting out in the sun and fresh air is so important during the shorter days.
Last but definitely not least, it’s sharing your life with the people you love and cherish. An evening of playing cards and drinking wine with your significant others, a long phonecall reminiscing with an old friend or even watching a movie with your pet can help us feel connected and cherished in these times when we can’t always see people face to face.
Hygge is not the only term we should be thinking of incorporating in our daily lives. The Scandinavians seem to have a knack for creating beautifully untranslatable words that perfectly describe those little moments that can easily become too wordy to describe in English. For instance how about friluftsliv, Norwegian for appreciating the beauty of the great outdoors when it’s cold outside? Or lagom, the Swedish word that describes living a mindful and balanced life? And the amazingly apt kalsarikannit that describes a state of mind we’ve all experienced and means to get drunk in your underwear with no intention whatsoever to go out. We should all embrace out inner scandi and enjoy life.
For more great scandi words, check out this super fun round up by Apartment Therapy.