The Secret to Winter Happiness: Hygge

Hygge. Funny-looking word, isn’t it? It’s been popping up in books and blogs everywhere for the past couple of winters.

It comes from the Danes, and it’s a surefire way to survive the endless cold and darkness that descends on them in the winter months.

Hygge is one of those untranslatable words, but as best as I can glean, it’s something along the lines of focusing on simple pleasures that create coziness. When I first heard about it, I thought, that’s lovely for the Danes.

COZY COZY - Lindsay Marcella

But then it kept appearing, again, and again, and again, and I got to thinking. The Danes need hygge because there are as little as 4 hours of light during some of their winter days. Add in some frigid temperatures, and making the effort to do anything seems about a billion times more difficult than it would be in the summer months. So–and this is a revelation to me–the Danes don’t try to fight it. They’re not bundled up in their fleece coats and sherpa boots, going about their usual busy-life activities to combat the season. They’re staying home, with blankets and candles, because of it. They’re going with the flow, and embracing what they know is just a season. (You can watch them in action here, on the Visit Denmark site.)

So I tried it out. I started making little differences in my nighttime routine as the temperatures dropped. First it was candles every night while I got my Christmas cards together. Then choosing a book and a blanket over endless Netflix bingeing. I got the fireplace going a couple of nights ago. In the post-holiday sales all over the internet, I found a pair of pajamas I adored, and I bought two pairs. I live in them after 7 pm, and I love them. And then last night, I did it. I put my phone down. I unplugged. I left it out of reach, so that I couldn’t check Instagram or do a quick Facebook scroll. And I sat, in my jammies and slippers, reading a book I couldn’t put down, feeling like this was the best possible way to unwind at the end of the day.

Morning routines get a lot of love. Everyone wants to offer the best, protein-packed breakfasts, and the most efficient ways to get out the door. After all, then you’re primed to tackle your to-do list for the day, no matter how many sun-filled hours you’ll see. Spending a little time working on my post-dinner, hygge time was such a valuable exercise. There’s no better way to unwind.

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