by Dr. Will Cole
In Denmark, there is a concept called hygge, pronounced “hoo-guh,” it is defined as “a quality of coziness that brings a feeling of contentment or well-being.” Hygge is about creating a cozy, welcoming, warm home and staying in to enjoy it, so it’s no coincidence that Scandinavians are rated as some of the happiest people in the world. Now, the secret is out. While people have been hygge-ing in Scandinavia for years, hygge has recently become the latest aspiration in the United States and the United Kingdom. Listed as one of the top wellness trends, it cannot be denied any longer: Staying in is the new going out.
Much-needed relief from our modern lifestyles.
The global awareness of the concept of hygge is, I believe, born out of the growing awareness that our way of life is unsustainable. As we are constantly bombarded with information and chronic stress has reached epidemic proportions, something’s going to break if we don’t slow down. In truth, our bodies, emotions, marriages, and bank accounts are already starting to break down under this immense pressure, not to mention health. Modern problems like adrenal fatigue are the physical consequences of this type of lifestyle. Clearly, we need to do something differently.
Enter hygge: cozy, comfy, “let’s slow it down” hygge. The word sounds foreign (because it is) but so does the concept. And yet, you can see it everywhere now, and related trends, like minimalism, digital detoxes, and more people working at home or working fewer hours. This is society’s cry for relief – a time-out, a moment to breathe, a reclamation of the concept of relaxation. Hygge embodies all the things that our souls crave. It is the excuse we have been looking for, to cozy up with a giant fuzzy blanket, wear slouchy clothes, and just chill out.
But hygge doesn’t mean living a sedentary lifestyle (remember, sitting is the new smoking). It’s not about, Netflix marathons and potato chip binges. Instead, here are some better ways to embrace this trend, to make your life a little slower, a little sweeter, and a little less stressful:
1. Create a phone-free space.
Doing my smartphone detox showed me just how refreshing and calming being unplugged can be. To take advantage of the surprising stress-relieving qualities of smartphone-free time, set up a smartphone drop-off/charging station that you can use as soon as you walk in the door. Put your phone on silent so you won’t be tempted to check it or lured back to the screen by those seductive beeps and buzzes.
2. Throw next-level parties.
Engaging in healthy relationships and being involved in a community of people has been shown to help people live longer, healthier lives. A great way to cultivate relationships with your tribe is by coming together for gatherings focused on wellness that evolve with the seasons. Staying in is not just for when the days are dreary – it’s for every day, when friends come by. Here are some ideas for health-focused social activities:
Green Juice Socials: Swap out your typical wine – or beer – tasting party with a delicious green juice social. Have everyone bring a recipe to share and corresponding ingredients to make a giant batch of juice for everyone to sample. Have additional recipe cards on hand for people to write down their favorites. Don’t forget healthful homemade snacks to munch on!
Yoga Soiree: Soak in that vitamin D by participating in outdoor yoga. Gather a group together for an afternoon of sun salutation on the lawn or patio. Spend time listening to the silence and little noises of nature as your mind and body take advantage of the wellness benefits of yoga. This party can work well during the cold months as well, if you have a large room. If you have a yoga teacher friend, as them to direct the action. Or, each person could pick their favorite yoga videos (queue up the YouTube) and the group can try snippets of each.
Meal Prep Bash: One of the last things people want to do after work is worry about dinner and cooking (and cleaning it all up!) Make a list of some delicious freezer crockpot meals filled with whole ingredients and have everyone bring a different ingredient. Turn up the relaxing music and get chopping!
Terrarium Building Event: Having plants around the house is one of the most natural ways to purify the air you breathe. Plants also bring the outdoors in, which can give you a mood boost during the long winter months when it may be more difficult to grab time outdoors. Go to your local home and garden store and pick up (or order off a website) some beautiful plants and have friends over for a terrarium building event. Pick the plants that speak to you and arrange them in a way that you love.
3. Trade comfort food for super-food.
Elevate your traditional comfort food for updated versions of your favorite dishes.
- Substitute chicken zoodle bone broth soup for chicken noodle soup.
- Try adaptogenic tonics instead of hot chocolate, alcohol, and soda.
- Add bone broth to traditional recipes for a gut-healing boost.
- Have low-sugar, grain-free granola instead of your breakfast cereal or snack.
4. Mindfulness: hygge-style
Taking time to relax in the present moment with no need to worry or bother with the excess of things or long lists of must-sees and do’s is really at the heart of hygge. A simple life can be rich and rewarding when you bring mindfulness to the table, and engaging in hygge is being mindful. Some examples: Vow to really taste the foods you’re eating. Try to truly listen and hear what another person is saying, for more meaningful conversation. Tune in to your senses all the time, and notice how beautiful and full the world is. Eat consciously and love your body enough to nourish it with good food medicine. Bring more awareness to every present moment to reduce your stress and create inner and outer richness. See how powerful “cozy” can be? Now you’re hygge-ing your way to better health.
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