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hygge game night cozy

Hygge 101: How This Danish Practice Might Help You De-Stress

The Danish concept of “hygge” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2017, but this term existed long before then. 

Whether you’ve heard of the term or not, you’ve likely participated in it without even knowing. 

Your favorite pair of sweatpants, a warm cup of your favorite coffee, or cuddling up with your favorite book on a rainy day (preferably all three) are all hygge examples. 

This concept has been the inspiration for articles, books, content, and even a hygge game over the last few years, so the rest of the world has finally caught on to this long-standing Danish tradition. 

But what is it, exactly?

Comfy, Cozy, Hygge!

Denmark seems to consistently rank among some of the globe’s most fulfilled, happy countries. 

How much does hygge have to do with the high levels of cheer?

While there’s no way to know with certainty, this concept, pronounced “hoo-guh,” is all about slowing down, being intentional, and spending quality time by yourself or with your most treasured friends and family. 

Life is full of hustle and bustle. Hygge is about enjoying the quiet, simple pleasures within each day. 

hygge candle

The word itself dates all the way back to 1800, but similar concepts can be traced back as far as the Middle Ages. 

Hygge examples include casual, laid-back time with loved ones in a quiet, cozy location. This could be a bright, sunny summer picnic, a meal with a special wine at home, or even baking cookies with your children. 

While comfort foods and drinks are often included in the hygge lifestyle, other simple pleasures like a puzzle, a good book, or a fun game are also part of the concept.  

The main idea of hygge is that there’s no solid agenda: it’s about making the time to unwind and connect with others or yourself. 

Now that we’ve covered some hygge examples and the idea behind the concept, you might be wondering why hygge is a part of Danish culture in the first place. 

Is Hygge A Cure For The Winter Blues?

Danish winters are often cold, dark, wet, and long. 

When the days are short and the sun sets quickly, it’s easy to get the winter blues. Some believe that long Danish winters are what first prompted the hygge way of life. 

Danes use the winter to spend quality time indoors and break away from a busy schedule. This slow, intentional pause mimics the season of winter where everything in nature slows down. 

Hygge reflects the values of Danish culture: to honor each person with equality and a positive atmosphere. 

While winter is the obvious time to make hygge a priority, Danes practice this lifestyle year-round. 

Summer hygge examples include backyard dinner parties, riverside picnics, bonfires on the beach, or outdoor movie nights.

picnic by the water

Whatever rejuvenates you and your loved ones within the current season is central to the ideology of all things hygge. 

Luckily, you don’t have to be Danish to adopt this slow, cozy lifestyle. 

Between 2016 and 2017, numerous books were published on the subject of hygge, with major publications like the New York Times creating insightful think-pieces about the topic. 

Comfort-centric industries like candle makers or leisurewear brands began to use the term to market their products around this time. 

A hygge game was even created to help shift group settings into a comfy, chilled-out state. 

The Hygge Game

There’s nothing more cozy and content than playing a game with people you love. 

The Hygge Game is centered around bringing two or more people together through stories and discussions about all of the big and small parts of life. 

The game offers over 300 thought-provoking questions created to spark meaningful conversation and create the right type of atmosphere for a hygge get-together. 

The Hygge Game

Whether you’re on a quiet date, a night in, or a dinner party with friends and family, The Hygge Game offers up unique questions like:

  • What smell reminds you most of your childhood?
  • Do you like it when friends drop by unexpectedly?
  • What would be the title of your biography or autobiography? 
  • Name something you look back at and think “I can’t believe I did that.”

The Hygge Game is all about bringing people closer together by encouraging bonding and hitting pause to listen and share with one another. 

Intentional pauses like these don’t just make you feel happier in theory. They’re backed by science to lower anxiety levels and improve quality of life. 

How Hygge Helps You De-Stress

Did you know that taking a moment to be present can be categorized as a type of mindfulness meditation

When you take a few minutes, hours, or days to abide by the hygge lifestyle, you’re practicing mindfulness. 

That said, lighting a candle isn’t a mental health cure-all, but the hygge way of life might be the key toward shifting your mindset when you need it most.  

Research shows that mindfulness brings about positive physiological effects such as increased well-being, reduced emotional activity, and improved behavioral regulation. 

Hygge helps you de-stress by putting you in a focused mindset centered around enjoyable activities rather than daily worries and anxiety. 

While it can bring a sense of peace and calm to your living space, this method also helps you become more mindful anywhere you are.

hygge blanket at desk

For example, your stressful workday can switch from anxiety-ridden to hygge-happy by bringing a favorite blanket to work to keep at your desk. 

Alter your next family vacation from chaotic to hygge by playing license plate games in the car with your family. 

No matter where you are, hygge is there to help you pause and look after yourself and others, focusing on gratitude to live life mindfully. 

Moreover, hygge is all about self-care — a practice sure to help melt the anxieties of everyday life away. 

Think about it: a few minutes of listening to calming music, taking a bubble bath, or eating your favorite snack is sure to make you feel better. 

Hygge gives you an excuse to force yourself to have “me time.” 

And once “me time” is over, hygge encourages “we time” with friends and family, creating more intimacy and connection with your loved ones than ever before. 

Make like the Danes and hygge your way toward a soft, slow, intentional life. Your mind, relationships, and well-being will thank you!

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