9 easy ways to embrace hygge, according to wellness experts
If you aren’t already familiar, hygge refers to the Danish lifestyle concept that’s become something of a craze.
The Scandanavian trend is generally described as a feeling of comfort and contentment (that internal glow), as well as surrounding yourself with all the good things and people in your life.
The concept comes from the idea that the Danes are the happiest people in the world and that ‘hygge’ is their secret.
So we have spoken to our experts on what we can do to embrace the Danish way of life and help brighten our spirits during the cold months…
1. Take a break from social media
Checking your Twitter and Instagram notification every few minutes? Hooked on to Snapchat? Social media can be addictive but hygge is all about “real-world” connections.
“I’d suggest we need to do more than just take the odd break from the screen,” says nutritionist Cassandra Barns.
“Making sure that we spend time with friends in the real world is essential – don’t neglect your real relationships with others in favour of your online connections.”
2. Make time for your family and loved ones
Hygge is all about togetherness and often the heart of many Danish homes is the dining room table.
“Oxytocin is a ‘feel good’ hormone,” says Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist at SuperfoodUK.com. “Released when we bond socially and feel general trust, comfort and love, this hormone is just as powerful as serotonin.
“Whenever you feel low and need a lift, spend time with your family and friends to mellow down and feel instantly better.”
3. Create a snuggle spot
Winter months are generally seen as the peak hygge season. It’s also the best time of the year to snuggle under a blanket with a hot cuppa to keep you warm.
“For an extra oxytocin level boost, have a cuddle,” says Wilkinson. “This hormone is released when we experience physical contact from a loved one.
“Whenever you feel low and need a lift, grab a hug off your favourite person for a natural feel-good, fuzzy feeling.”
4. Get some “me time”
It’s important take some time out for yourself, especially if you are working long hours.
“Set aside regular time to do something that you love and that makes you feel good: reading a good book, watching your favourite television programme, going for a massage, going out for a measure with a friend, or having a long bath,” says Wilkinson.
“Doing things we love naturally lowers our stress hormones and helps us to cope with the more stressful parts of the day.”
5. Treat yourself to comfort food
Instead of cutting out our favourite foods, the general belief is that we should treat ourselves now and again.
And if chocolate is your go-to comfort food, Lily Soutter, nutritionist and weight loss expert at Lily Soutter Nutrition, advises to opt for dark chocolate.
“New research has shown that eating a square of dark chocolate a day can relieve emotional stress,” says Soutter.
“It’s the high quantity of antioxidants called flavonols, which are responsible for these positive effects. Stick with dark, organic, unprocessed chocolate for maximum benefits.”
6. Prioritise your wellbeing
This will help you achieve the work/life balance, which is a significant part of the Danish culture.
“If you’re concerned that you’re burning the candle at each end, learn to get your priorities right.
“There is nothing in your life right now more important than your health,” says Dr Marilyn Glenville, author of Natural Alternatives To Sugar.
“Learn to say no if you feel that you have taken on too much. Being assertive is invigorating and empowering.
“It also helps to make lists of what is or is not a priority and to tackle the priority tasks first. This will help give you a sense of control over your life.”
7. Embrace the fresh air and boost your endorphins
The temperatures might be low outside but breathing fresh air can help you feel re-energised. The Danes are well known for their devotion to the outdoors.
Physical activity has been found to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Having a regular exercise routine can help alleviate these negative feelings in the long term.
“It doesn’t need to be intensive or of long duration: even a 10-minute brisk walk or a short exercise DVD can help boost those endorphins,” says explains Lynne Robinson, author of Pilates For Life and founder of Body Control Pilates.
8. Don’t skimp on sleep
Sleep is a significant part of a healthy lifestyle, yet many of us simply do not get enough of it.
If we want to take a leaf out of the Danes’ book and be as productive as possible during the day, then we need a good quality sleep.
“Magnesium is known as ‘nature’s tranquilliser’ and is needed to relax our muscles and nerves, which helps us to fall into a peaceful sleep,” says Barns.
“To ensure you're getting enough magnesium try and include plenty of magnesium-rich foods in your diet such as, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, fish and leafy green vegetables.”
9. Invest in candles
Meik Wiking, the author of The Little Book Of Hygge, says for instant hygge, all you need to do is light a candle.
And then bask in the glow.l