Hygge At Home
Autumn has arrived in its usually graceful manner - the gradually cooler, crisp mornings, the slowly shedding trees and slowly shortening evenings. The seasonal changeover has brought with it much conversation around the Danish concept of hygge. But how does this historical Danish ideal relate to our lives today? It may be that a little effort goes a long way to evoking scenes of what our Nordic neighbours have for centuries described as hygge.
Pronounced 'hoo-gah', hygge if you haven't been acquainted with the term already, is a Danish word which makes reference to moments of mental awareness and the satisfaction of warm scenes of utter cosiness and moreover blissful contentment. Although hygge has been part of Danish culture for centuries, a series of recent books including one by researcher Meik Wiking have brought this Nordic lifestyle term to become the latest lifestyle buzz word.
According to Wiking, and his decades of studies as a member of the team in the Happiness Research Institute, Copenhagen, the Danes have happiness cracked. Many cite their long-held awareness of hygge to be a major contributing factor to their above average levels of all round happiness.
Hygge has huge relevance within the home and for me the English term 'homeliness' seems to come close to being an equivalent. However, homeliness doesn't quite capture the full essence of hygge. Hygge at home centres around comfort food, gathering to enjoy good food with friends and loved ones or taking time to enjoy a great book by a warm fire or unwinding in a luxurious bubble bath. Hygge is those moments that catch you off guard - when you consciously realise the satisfaction or warmth of the particular moment.
Personally, I can completely relate to this concept and since I started blogging I have found enormous satisfaction in making my home cosier and taking the time to do things that excite me. It could be something as simple as making a meal for friends - planning the menu, shopping for ingredients, allowing yourself the time to create food to enjoy and a beautiful setting to enjoy it in.
But of course, few good things come without a little effort and fundamental to the concept of hygge is time. It affords us the time to be patient, to give tasks our full attention, offering a sense respect for each methodical step, a sense of discipline for the conditions to be just right; a mindfulness of each stage in the process. And monotonous as it may sound, by the time you have finished creating you have heightened your overall enjoyment of the result, having fully engaged in the process your end satisfaction is inflated and you may just experience what those happy Danes describe as hygge.
Shop a little hygge...
The art of slow living, popularised by lifestyle magazine Kinfolk comes to mind also; for advocating the importance of slowing down and enjoying life at a pace that allows us to be more conscious and more present. It's so not easy though. Life generally is fast-paced. From the moment we rise to the late evening, there is something to be done and time is of the essence.
However hygge is something I instantly was drawn to and can appreciate as a concept without ever previously being aware of it. The concept has made me think about the best experiences of hygge at home.
Is there any better way to switch off than indulging in a little extra time in bed? Enjoying the comfort of a snug, warm bed even while awake is some time well spent. Whether it's a slow morning or an early night - time to switch off, slow down and unwind in comfort is seriously good for the soul.
Scented Candle Love
An instant atmosphere enhancer, the flicker and scent of a candle can really create a soothing scene. Smell is a powerful and often underestimated sense. I recently bought two cocoa and log fire candles from the Paul Costello range in Dunnes Stores and having this scent fill both my small hallway and living room gives a great impact. And as I don't have a real fire the smell alone is the perfect way to create the cosy, comfortable atmosphere that a real fire evokes.
A Little Me Time
A relaxing soak can do wonders to sooth not only your muscles but your worries. I'm guilty of often forgetting the lovely bath salts, oils and bubbles I have stored at the back of the bathroom cupboard. Taking them out and using them in plentiful quantities and maybe even treating my skin to a little diy facial is one of the my favourite ways to indulge in a little homemade R&R.
Breakfast In Bed
Breakfast in bed is the perfect way to start a rainy weekend morning. A delicious, carefully prepared breakfast enjoyed cosy under the covers is the ultimate moment of hygge.
There is something about the combination of sweet and heated food that is instantly indulgent and cosy. And sweet treats become all the more satisfying following a little restraint. Discipline has many perks and breaking from it, is most definitely one of them.
Coming together over good food has an undeniable ability to remind us of those things we care about most. Surrounded by good company, laughter and story-telling, all alongside a lovingly prepared feast is something that never loses appeal. It is particularly nice to be invited into someones home or to reciprocate and welcome friends into your own home. These moments give us insight into how others live or allow us to share our homes and those things that are important to creating hygge within our homes.
Visual representations of hygge often consist of crackling fireside scenes with bodies warming and feet toasting in cosy socks. A real fire creates an atmosphere that few other things can. But such scenes can be especially enjoyable with music, a classic movie, knit blankets and twinkling lights and candles.
Hygge is in essence the accumulations of several simple but satisfying things enjoyed simultaneously.