I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve grown tired of the many holier-than-thou wellness trends that have been so prominent over the past year; the concept of eating well appeals to me, the thoughts of living a life completely free of carbohydrates, drinking smoothies that taste like toothpaste or feeling guilty every time I so much as smell chocolate, does not. Which is why, when I came across a book promoting a new form of wellness – a Danish form of the trend – I was intrigued.
It’s what is known as ‘Hygge,’ and it’s basically a wellness concept that’s fun, relaxed and one that everyone can get behind and enjoy. So what is it? It’s a literal translation of the word ‘cosy,’ and is participating in anything that makes you feel warm and happy inside; snuggling up under a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate on a rainy afternoon? Check. Reading by the fire with your dog? Check. Curling up with a hot water bottle, Netflix, and ridiculously expensive scented candle? Or even enjoying your favourite meal with family – all this, according to Danish folk is hygge.
I like The Telegraph‘s description of it: “the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things.” This isn’t just a phenomenon to the Danes; it’s a way of life. You can enroll in a course at Morley College, London, where they’ve actually started teaching hygge as part of their Danish language course. Denmark is also clearly especially good at ‘hygge,’ given its status as the world’s happiest country, so I’d say it’s high time we took a leaf out of their book and started doing things the Danish way.
It’s been described as a zen-like state of contentment – think mindfulness 2.0 – and the best thing is, every family will have their own variation of it, and that’s fine; there are no real rules as long as you’re doing what makes you happy.
What it isn’t is anything to do with, is clean living; Hygge definitely runs deeper than that. “It’s not fussy or materialistic, and it’s definitely not about wealth. In its essence, it’s about balance, self-sufficiency and a certain degree of ‘healthy hedonism,'” explained Signe Johansen, Norwegian chef and author of an upcoming book on the very topic.
So, why not go forth; enjoy being kind to yourself – give yourself a treat, and give yourself, and each other, a break from the demands of healthy living and indulge in the things – chocolate, wine, roast dinners by candlelight – that truly make you feel good. You can hygge alone or in groups, depending on what you prefer.
Suddenly, plenty of cosy nights in this winter don’t sound half bad.