“We were silent, tired, and happy, and it was pure hygge.”
- Meik Wiking
With winter fast approaching, some may be gearing up for the holiday season, while others may be starting to feel the effects of the short, cold days and the long, dark nights. Winter blues, also known as the seasonal affective disorder (SAD), affects the mood of people who generally have a stable mental health for most of the year, yet exhibit depressive symptoms at the same time each year, most commonly in the winter. Some might feel the effects of the winter blues more than others.
Whether or not you suffer from the winter blues, one thing is sure, everyone could use a little pick-me-up to help them get through the long winter months. The Danes use a concept known as hygge (pronounced hoo-guh) to help them get through their long, harsh winters. Hygge, loosely translated, means “coziness.” To be more precise, hygge implies a psychological state of “coziness.” The true, subtle meaning of this concept can get lost in translation, however. In North America, the concept of hygge has been used as a selling point in hopes of selling anything that’s fuzzy, furry or warm. Hygge, however, is not something that one can necessarily buy. It is rather an experience that is created within yourself. This experience requires a feeling of peace, where preoccupations, stresses, and other unpleasant sensations are momentarily absent.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t buy things to help you attain the feeling of hygge. For example, if buying your favourite hot beverage and sitting in front of your fireplace gives you that cozy and peaceful experience, than hygge has been attained. The hot beverage alone will not necessarily get you there, however.
Hygge is most commonly attained while surrounded by those that we hold near and dear to our hearts. Instead of trying to fabricate a cozy experience with material goods, particularly during the holiday season, be mindful of your surroundings and of those around you. Put your phone down and be present. Take in the sights, sounds and smells. Your mental health will thank you.