Skip to main content
Mindful Living

What is hygge? Here's how to feel cozy, inside and out

Camryn Rabideau
Camryn Rabideau January, 13, 2020

Baker, green thumb, living well with anxiety

Social media brings a lot of unique trends into people's lives, but hygge has to be one of the most popular. This Danish word, pronounced "hue-gah," is often explained as a state of coziness.

You've probably seen hygge splashed across Instagram or talked about on Twitter — it was all the rage a few years ago, especially in home design. But it's so much more than a design fad! If you're feeling stressed, you could probably benefit from a hygge state of mind.

So, what is hygge?

People often say the meaning of hygge is "coziness." However, that's not totally accurate. In reality, it's one of those words that doesn't have a good English equivalent. It comes from the Old Norse word hyggja, which means to think or examine.

"[Hygge is] about stepping back from the hectic pace of modern living and looking after ourselves; about savoring the small moments of joy and contentedness we experience in life," according to author and hygge expert Signe Johansen. "It can be anything from coming together over small celebrations during midwinter to going skiing for a day and then tucking into a delicious feast."

It's more of a contented state of mind than an aesthetic, and achieving it goes further than buying candles and soft blankets (although those can definitely help).

Cup of coffee and candle on rustic wooden serving tray in the cozy bed with blanket. Knitting warm woolen sweater in the autumn weekend, top view.Why buy into hygge?

Beyond making your home feel welcoming and warm, hygge also comes with mental benefits. After all, Danish people are some of the happiest in the world, according to the World Happiness Report. They must be doing something right!

Ultimately, the meaning of hygge boils down to doing what feels good and will make you happy in the moment. In a way, it's similar to mindfulness — which has been found to minimize depressive episodes, reduce stress and boost your memory and focus. Beyond that, there are the less quantifiable benefits; making choices that bring happiness into your life helps you feel just plain good!

5 Easy tips for bringing hygge into your life

Ready to try practicing hygge? Here are a few ideas for what embracing the spirit and meaning of hygge could look like in your day-to-day life — as well as what it definitely shouldn't.

1. Surround yourself with things that make you feel good
Hygge is about savoring the little things, so it's basically giving you the green light to indulge in items that will serve you physically and mentally. Invest in those super soft sweatpants, or treat yourself to a cookie after a hard day at work. Do the things that nurture your soul.

2. Don't get caught up in trends
It's easy to get caught up in what hygge "looks like" on social media and curated blogs, but it's not really about your interior design skills. Focus on what will make your body and spirit feel secure, content and at peace. If that's a chunky knit blanket, great! If not, that's OK, too!

3. Share the hygge spirit
Hygge doesn't have to be a solitary experience. In fact, prioritizing your well-being often involves surrounding yourself with the people you love. Try planning a cozy soiree with your friends in the name of hygge. And next time you hear the question "what is hygge?" take a moment to spread the word!

4. Don't overdo it
Sure, it would be nice to pamper yourself all the time, but you shouldn't use hygge as justification to avoid responsibilities and hibernate your life away. It's important to learn how to embrace your responsibilities and manage stresses while still looking after yourself.

5. Practice hygge year-round
Some people think hygge is just a wintertime thing, but the meaning of hygge goes so much further. You can — and should — practice it whenever you need it. It's possible to tap into this state of mind no matter the weather!

Read This Next

How human bonding works
Mindful Living

Life is best when you have the right people to explore it with. Research shows that putting work into maintaining close friendships and healthy bonds with family members can make...

February, 14 2020

Recommended Stories