Hygge may not be a household word in the States quite yet, but it’s currently experiencing a popularity growth spurt and influencing the way many Americans live their lives. With origins in Denmark, the word—pronounced “hoo-gah”—roughly translates to “coziness” in English, although most Danes will argue that hygge has more to do with well-being than anything else. It’s thought to be associated with a number of different health benefits, including reduced stress, promotion of exercise and reduction in obesity, and it’s not just a concept isolated for the Scandinavians—everyone can enjoy the benefits of hyggewith a little practice.
So, how can you incorporate elements of hygge in your own life? Here are just a few ways to embrace the Danish way of stress-free living.
1. Start with Exercise
Physical activity is a central aspect to hygge, allowing the body to properly manage stress hormones like cortisol and unwind at the end of the day. 20% of all commuting trips in Denmark involve bicycles, for example, and the Danes tend to be adamant about maintaining a regular exercise regimen. By incorporating exercise into your life, you can not only help to fight-off the onset of disease, but you’ll likely notice a pronounced boost in feelings of relaxation once the evening arrives.
2. Take Time for Yourself
So much of the day is devoted either to working, caring for family, or performing menial tasks that it’s easy to lose sight of one’s self. This does nothing to promote the concept of hygge, and you can get a lot of mileage out of actively allowing yourself to take an hour of each day to work on personal projects, embrace new hobbies, or simply read a book. Note that spending time surfing the web or mindlessly scrolling through social media does not count—focus on activities that promote growth and enrichment.
3. Share Chores
Hygge is all about experiencing a shared relaxation with those who are close to you, and most people can agree that it’s not easy to relax when there are chores to be done. By sharing these activities with family members, however, you not only generate a sense of equality, but you’re also helping to maintain strong, healthy relationships. If there’s work to be done, do it together whenever the situation allows.
4. Maintain Balance at Work
Approximately 65% of workers attest to feeling at least a small degree of stress due to their profession. Workplace stress is a common problem felt across all industries, and in many cases, it can result from situations that are out of the person’s control. By taking steps to maintain a better balance while on the job, however, you can leave your work-related stress behind as you make your way home. Be sure to step away from your work for at least 5-10 minutes every hour, which can boost mental clarity and prevent “burnout” from occurring.
5. Get Cozy
The “coziness” aspect of of hygge may only be a part of the concept as a whole, but it’s a large part that shouldn’t go overlooked. Relaxing in front of a warm fire with a loved one as the evening winds down can be highly beneficial when it comes to boosting mood and reducing stress, and this is just one of countless ways to get cozy. At the very least, shut your computer down for the night and take in a moment of stillness—whatever it takes to put a relaxing cap on the day.
Taking the time to incorporate elements of hygge into your life is certainly worth a shot, especially for those who experience significant amounts of stress. As the Danish say, “slap af” (relax)!