Hygge has been big for a couple of years now, and I’ve always been interested in the concept but couldn’t really get into it due to the inherent trendiness of it all. This October, I finally gave in and decided to embrace hygge in my life — winters here are tough, and anything to help me get through the next few months is certainly welcome. And, of course, my obsession with Scandinavia meant that I would inevitably give in at some point.
If you are new to the word, “hygge” is a Danish word and concept that describes a feeling of coziness. It’s that feeling of sitting in front of a fire with a mug of mulled wine while snow falls outside, indulging in a warm and hearty soup during the frigid winter months, or walking amongst the autumn leaves with a chunky knit scarf wrapped around you.
Ever since I decided to go all in on this trend, I’ve been obsessively reading blogs and practicing whatever methods I can find to turn my home into a hygge paradise without going on a spending spree. And, of course, what’s more hygge than writing about hygge in the midst of all that coziness?
1. Develop a Candle Routine
Search “hygge” and you will inevitably find images and blog posts talking incessantly about lighting candles. Apparently, the Danes have a huge candle fetish. I’m completely OK with that, except for the fact that candles can get expensive when you are lighting them constantly.
The thing to remember here is that you don’t need to light every candle in your home at once. I know, it’s tough. I generally have three candles on hand at any time, and go through a cycle of lighting one at a time throughout the day when I’m home. Living in Canada, I can get decent candles that are affordable on the clearance shelves of the home goods section at Winners (TJ Maxx in the US and TK Maxx in the UK).
2. Get Slow Cooking
A slow cooker is a worthy investment. Hearty soups, chilis, beans, curries, stews — everything just tastes better when it’s been stewing and developing its flavours for hours. You can make big batches of cheap and healthy food that will last for at least a few days. This is the perfect time of year to experiment with new slow cooker recipes. I also just learned that slow cooker mulled wine is a thing — stay tuned for a recipe in the coming weeks.
3. Borrow a Stack of Books From the Library
The library is one of my favourite places. I don’t even remember the last time I bought a book because I pretty much exclusively borrow (a big help when you move almost every year).
Curling up with a book, a blanket, and a mug of something hot, with a lit candle or fireplace nearby, is probably as hygge as it gets. Having a few books around to leaf through according to your mood can also encourage you to step away from the screens a bit more (I definitely need some extra encouragement sometimes).
Consider getting a travel guide for a “hygge” destination (Scandinavian countries are at the top of the list, but anywhere can have its own form of hygge), a good book (I’ve enjoyed a few F. Scott Fitzgerald books recently), cookbooks focused on comfort foods or baking, and/or a few of those big hardcover books that are more about the images than the words (maybe even one about hygge).
4. Stock Up On Non-Caffeinated Hot Beverages
There’s nothing like warming your fingers on a mug of something hot on a cool autumn day (or the frigid ones we tend to get around here). That being said, drinking coffee all day is a good way to give yourself the shakes. Too much caffeine just doesn’t lend itself to the level of chilled-out coziness we are looking to achieve here.
Spend a few extra dollars and get yourself a few varieties of warming beverages to suit whatever mood strikes you. Enjoy your regular coffee or caffeinated tea as part of your routine, and admit that a good chai latte tastes just as good when it’s decaf (and won’t give you heart palpitations).
5. Give Yourself Permission to Just Chill
I’m a high-strung person by nature, and a perpetually hectic state of being is my norm. If you relate to this, you probably also have the same issues when it comes to relaxing — that being it’s a tough thing to do when you constantly feel the need to be productive at all times (and the guilt that pops up when you’re not).
Consciously give yourself permission to focus on the to-do list later. Write down what’s on your mind and release it for the time being. You will get to it. Try to sit and just appreciate the atmosphere without needing to fill the time or avoid boredom. Leaf through the library books you just picked up, find a new recipe to test out, or just sit with a mug of hot chocolate and another episode of Friends on Netflix. It’s OK to take a break and just be. More than that, it’s necessary for your mental wellbeing. The things that need to get done will be done, and sometimes the best thing to do is nothing at all.