5 Habits of Hygge

Having come across this word some time ago, I recently finished a book that's all about it and wanted to share some of what it taught me. Hygge was a recent word of the day over on Facebook for anyone who's missed it and the beautiful definition of the word that I got, came directly from that book:

'Hygge is the removal of things that cause stress in our lives - it is the ongoing pursuit of a simpler, healthier, more fulfilled and happier existence.'

42 Habits of Hygge is Helena Olsen's easy to read guide on incorporating hygge into daily life, through easily applicable five minute habits.

Funnily enough, a significant amount of these are ones that I have the pleasure of being able to practice everyday living in Milford Sound without realising their contribution to my general sense of contentment. It's cool to see just how easily these can add up to create a strong sense of hygge. And of course, anyone anywhere can begin to adapt these hygge heightening practices, so here's just some of those suggestions to consider:

1. Decluttering

Clutter to me is chaos. I genuinely find it irritating and stressful to be surrounded by clutter or excess. So this makes obvious sense to me - decluttering will bring clarity and space and a more relaxed environment. The Minimalists and those with similar thinking of course have popularised this increasingly recently and it's not surprising to find that it's also recognised as pertinent to a more hyggeligt lifestyle.

Get rid of clutter, let go of anything that is not adding value to your life and wellbeing. This may not just be physical items either - social media, email subscriptions, toxic relationships - these can all add up to an overwhelming culmination of chaos. Take the time to trim the excess wherever you feel necessary, challenging though it may be initially, it's actually a very liberating process and can give a wonderful feeling of lightness and thus contentment.

2. Reading

I was a serious book worm as a child. Piles of books would return from the library and within little time at all, I was eagerly awaiting more. I always loved exploring the writing of others, delving into new ideas, worlds and the minds of those who are experts in their fields. But, when stress and a distracted mind came into play, the books went by the wayside, ironically at the time when I probably could've done with their stress-relieving capabilities most.

In the last year I've managed dive back into reading and can definitely advocate the benefits, I'm delighted to be enjoying again.

Reading is a known relaxing habit and with the above definition in mind, a clear way towards hygge. In whatever form it may be - novel, blog, autobiography, poetry or textbook, give reading a chance. Let yourself get truly immersed into a good book and see how it feels. It's such a solid source of learning, idea-inspiring, mind-opening, calming and enjoyment - once we give it our focus and commitment.

3. Music

Listening to music is something we may not consider to be overly important, but again it's actually a proven stress reliever and can have powerful effect on our emotions and mood. Spend time just listening to music, but give it that valued attention, engage mindfulness and thoroughly listen to and enjoy it.

Another practice that I particularly enjoy from this book that ties in here, is singing and dancing. Genuinely, not a day goes by that I don't burst into song or bust a few moves wherever I am (neither of which I have any actual skills for) but it 100% improves my mood, my day or even just gets my energy up. Singing releases endorphins and oxytocin, both of which lower stress levels. And dancing, regardless how it looks, feels good, reduces anxiety and stress and can boost self esteem. Get the tunes on and get into it, in the name of hygge ;)

4. Gratitude

In probably anything I've indulged in that has the pursuit of happiness at its core, gratitude will be a part of it. When something comes up that often, it is obvious that this is one to take on board. Active practice of gratitude is something I'll always recommend and stand by. It'll only ever have positive results.

An easy habit to begin that will have profound effect is to kickstart a gratitude journal. This need not take any more than a few minutes each day, but could have the potential to significantly transform our mindset. It doesn't require any elaborate explanation or even that many words but just a conscious acknowledgement of 3+ things we're grateful for each day. It can be done mentally either any time, anywhere. All that's required is to start - choose to adapt an attitude of gratitude and contentment will no doubt begin to soar.

5. Connected Time

One of the standout messages I got about hygge is the value of togetherness and connection. There's a strong value in social interaction, belonging and community. This is crucial for any of us to give more of our time to. We get so easily caught up in busyness, loneliness or screen time that we forget the fundamental grounds of connection and belonging.

Whether it's family meals, playing games together, socialising, laughing, telling stories - all of these are hygge habits we need to ensure to include. Be present and truly connect with those that are close, give them time and attention and regain enjoyment of the company of others. Be a part of the interaction, include yourself and let go of whatever has been keeping you away.

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There are so many things we can do to enhance our own feelings of hygge and these will likely be quite personal and individual too, but these are simply some to get started with and try to boost all those positive feels in our lives. 

Others I particularly liked in the book are; watching wildlife, using photos as decoration, having hot drinks and lighting candles - they all just remind me of the true contentment and warmth that comes from connecting to our senses and world around us. Pick and choose and see what works, and remember that habits require repetition to form.

Most of all enjoy it! And feel free to let me know how they work for you or if you have any habits of your own that have worked the same magic :)



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