Inside: Learn how to have a hygge winter and enjoy the season even if you normally don’t!
For some people, this is the most wonderful time of the year. The holiday season is full of magical snow and all the warm and cozy feels that come with it.
However, for others, it’s a difficult time of year in part because the holiday season can be hard, but also because of winter blues and a distaste for all things cold weather.
Those who LOVE sunshine and miss their outdoor activities in the sunshine like biking, hiking, and water sports can’t wait for summer to come back around.
Winter can feel like it drags on and on especially if you’re in the camp of “I hate winter”.
But there is a solution to beat the winter blues: a hygge winter!
If you or someone you know starts dreading winter at just the mention of cold weather, know that there’s hope. Start by taking a page out of the Scandinavian peoples’ book by maximizing joy, while minimizing stuff: hygge.
We’ve got more than a few winter hygge ideas, activities, and tips that will show you how to enjoy winter even if you normally hate it.
What is a Hygge Winter?
“Hygge is about having less, enjoying more. The pleasure of simple living. It is generous and celebratory. A way to remember the importance of the simple act of living itself.” ~Louisa Thomsen Brits
The winters in the Scandinavian countries are the epitome of a hygge winter: cozy contentment, comradery, eating, drinking, and enjoying good company.
Did you know that at the heart of winter, Scandinavian countries average 4 to 5 average hours of daylight? And their temperatures average between 0 and -15 degrees celsius.
We can assume, and based on those stats alone, that a hygge winter is intense. And yet, the Nordic people rank as the happiest in the world!
Even winter-haters live through their winter days in a world of hygge, which manifests the feelings that come from living in a way that brings comfort and joy.
What Does Hygge Mean?
In the simplest terms, the word hygge is typically translated to “cozy” or “pleasant.” To most people who actually live hygge, it’s way more than that; it’s feeling hygge as a way of life.
“Hygge was never meant to be translated. It was meant to be felt.” ~Tove Maren
In its truest sense, hygge is a feeling that comes from the ability to make an ordinary day into an extraordinary day. You can do this if you recognize simple moments and live a slower lifestyle in a busy world.
How do you say, Hygge?
In Danish, hygge sounds like “hew-gah.” (The “y” in Danish sounds like “hew” in this word, not “hoo”) Except if you don’t put the right accent on the “y,” kind of like how r’s are so beautifully rolled in Spanish, it still comes out “hoo-gah” or “who-guh” anyway.
There is also hyggelig, which is more of a verb and means “to take pleasure in the simple things.” Hyggelig is pronounced “hoo-galee.”
Whew! Maybe it’s better to focus our energies on how to feel it rather than how to say it perfectly.
A Hygge Winter: Is It All Hype, or Can It Truly Help?
If winter makes you feel unhappy or blue, then a hygge winter will not only help, it will change your life, for the better!
Since you’re here reading this, it shows one of two things, and we can help with both: either you saw the word hygge and wondered, “what is that?” or, you definitely are motivated to figure out how to enjoy winter more because you hate it!
I’m happy with either reason but definitely excited to help you with the second. It just takes a little patience and practice, a tweak in your state of mind, and just like getting the clutter out of your life, it is a journey.
After all, if you are the type of person who makes up their mind to do something and it gets done, then you’ve got this! And eventually, you can find yourself saying, “Hellooo, hygge winter!”
How Can I Enjoy Winter With Hygge When I Hate It?
First, hygge cannot be “created” by a thing. A list of things to buy is shortsighted at best. Usually, it means someone doesn’t understand hygge or is trying to sell you something that doesn’t have anything to do with the concept, at worst.
With that said, one more critical tidbit for you:
It’s important to disconnect your idea of happiness from the amount of money you do or don’t possess. Happiness is not found in stuff.
You can’t buy a “hygge bedroom,” and while eating good food (or even a treat) can definitely be hygge, but there are no specific foods to buy that are “hygge foods.”
You can help rewire your brain to feel hygge with things you choose to surround yourself with, whether purchasing them or getting rid of them. And if you are surrounded by things that don’t make your space or your home feel cozy and comfortable, then go here to read about how to balance hygge and simple living after you read these great winter hygge ideas.
So, if you’re wondering how to enjoy winter more when winter makes you feel unhappy, then yes, winter hygge is just the thing for you. Just like the wildly satisfying feeling you get from decluttering your space and the simple pleasure of a job well done, that feeling is hygge!
Here are some winter hygge ideas to help you get started.
A Hygge Winter: Hygge Ideas and Activities
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By delving into the way Scandinavians enjoy winters, there’s one truth I’ve come to understand about hygge; it’s all about the attitude that creates the feeling.
No one can deny the difference in the “feelings” that are felt when standing in a crowded metro station versus lounging in the sun watching the water glisten and a cool beverage.
Wow, you say, thanks for that! Reminding me about the sun when this is all about hating winter…well, be prepared. Let’s fix that right off by starting with the happiness that comes with making your home a place of refuge, a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of life.
When you walk into your house, you want to kick off your shoes and relax, right? Hopefully, you’ve gotten rid of all the clutter in your home that makes you feel overwhelmed.
Besides, even for a winter-hater, you can enjoy many activities while you’re at home including some winter self-care activities. But first, let’s talk about going outside when it’s cold.
Hygge Winter Outdoor Activities:
You CAN find outdoor activities that will make you happy, and the Danes know this to be true, considering more than half their year is spent at freezing temps or below. What’s their secret, be prepared…
In many of the Nordic countries, you’ll hear:
“There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.”
In the US it is more common to avoid the outdoors in less than ideal weather, but that’s not the experience in other countries.
Linda Åkeson McGurk, a Scandinavian mom who married an American noticed and after moving to the states how differently people handled the weather. She wrote a book titled There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom’s Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids.
If you have children, this is a great resource for shifting your perspective on how we approach going outdoors particularly in the winter months.
Even if you don’t have kids, the same concepts hold true. Part of our experience with the cold weather is due to our own expectations and lack of proper clothing and gear. Start thinking about the pros of the colder weather and the beauty that it brings.
Check your winter gear and see if you have appropriate clothes for the colder months where you live. This is also a great opportunity to declutter clothing that no longer fits or isn’t in good shape.
Being properly geared up properly for an outdoor adventure makes a big difference. Even if you only find one hygge activity that creates some outdoor winter happiness with family or friends, it’s a start.
Here are some outdoor winter hygge ideas:
- Take winter walks around your neighborhood with your other half.
- Go on winter hikes to see areas you visit in the summer.
- Go for a drive and enjoy the holiday lights with a loved one.
- Have snowball fights and make snow angels with children.
- Take an evening stroll through a lighted park.
- Get friends together for a rousing game of football.
- Convert your favorite summer activities to winter, water skiing to snow skiing.
- Decorate your yard by making a snowman family.
- Don’t forget to string outside fairy lights for that welcoming feeling returning home.
After all of that invigorating activity, grab the group, go inside for some downtime, and share the winter wonderland atmosphere.
(Don’t forget to have a bowl by the door for the silenced cell phones!)
Your friends will enjoy soaking up the calm and ambiance in your home with the enchantment created by candles, tea lights or oil lamps, winter decorations, and comradery.
Hygge Winter Indoor Activities:
A winter day and night can be made more enjoyable by starting a fire, drinking hot drinks with friends or family, eating something warm and comforting, or curling up with a good book or movie.
Take time to create things that bring you pleasure and happiness: crafts, music, meals, treats, etc.
Preparing mentally to embrace hygge:
- Remember you are in control of your attitude and relax.
- Slow down and stay in the moment.
- Decide what hygge traditions you want to be your own.
- Allow your home to work for you; have things that bring you joy and make you feel cozy
- Focus on hygge as the feeling coziness lifestyle.
(And don’t forget that happiness isn’t found in stuff; hygge is about connecting with people and nature and embracing a slower way of living)
Hygge Winter Indoor Activities:
Now, a few hygge ideas to get you started on some traditional Danish hygge indoor activities:
- Reading books by the fire or in bed before you go to sleep at night.
- Baking and decorating gingerbread cookies with kids for friends.
- Knitting socks to keep friends and family warm this winter
- Making a savory stew that simmers on the stove with tantalizing aromas.
- Curling up on the couch with someone special and a comfy blanket
- Make and share homemade hot cocoa (try with real cacao powder)
- Share tea or coffee with friends or just for you.
- Creating DIY holiday decorations and Christmas tree ornaments.
- Find comfort recipes and cook together
- Baking hygge winter recipes cookies and sugarplum cake
Bonus: Make your own beeswax candles!
How to Have a Hygge Winter Home Ideas:
When learning to adopt a hygge lifestyle and enjoy winter when you hate it, it’s all about embracing the season by creating a warm atmosphere in your home. Start with simple things like warm lighting from candles and turning off electronics that interrupt family or “me time.”
One thing about a Scandinavian hygge winter is there probably isn’t a resident that wouldn’t have candles in their home.
Fun Fact: Did you know that Denmark is one of the world’s largest consumers of candles per capita, with many residents burning candles every day. Meik Wiking, an acclaimed author and happiness researcher, calls candles “instant hygge.” Bonus: Make your own beeswax candles!
But, let’s start with something that will set the mood from the get-go, clothing.
This might be the one area where I can understand the need to have a garment “spark joy” when adopting the hygge lifestyle. There are comfy clothes that can be soft and slouchy, that feel wonderful, and don’t make you look like you just finished cleaning your attic or the barn.
Say goodbye to that ripped and threadbare old band t-shirt. Say hello to that lovely blue cashmere sweater that’s been hanging in the closet that you are “always going to” but never wear? Oh, the luxury and coziness, not to mention finally a valid reason to keep it!
Warm natural lighting is one of the most essential aspects of hygge. Use warm twinkle lights and change out harsh bulbs for warmer shades.
If you have a fireplace, use it! You will feel hygge when you clean the ashes out, thinking back on all the beautiful moments spent enjoying the warmth and ambiance.
Yes, I know, you heard me, candles! I already mentioned it before, but it’s because it is important (and also because I happen to love candles).
Of course, use caution with them though. Consider getting candle jars or proper holders instead of using tapers or candles that can be a fire hazard.
Candles can cause respiratory issues if you burn too many scented or petroleum-based candles. Go for beeswax candles that not only burn longer and cleaner but actually help detoxify the air in your home.
If you can’t do regular candles, there are a lot of great realistic-looking battery-operated candle options now too!
This is an area where you’ve probably experienced hygge in your life already. Listening to music you enjoy, especially nostalgic tunes from your childhood and adolescence can create feelings of hygge.
Classical, hymns, Jamaican music, or any type of music you enjoy works as long as it feels calming and brings you feelings of contentment. Use free music apps like Pandora or iHeart Radio to fill your home with music that makes you feel happy and calm.
Simmer some citrus peels with a stick of cinnamon or make your own natural potpourri for an aromatic sense of comfort.
Try to find natural materials to incorporate into your decor, wood, stones, wool, etc. Stay away from jarring colors or busy designs that are distracting.
Bring nature into your home to add to textural decor and furnishings. Live plants create a feeling of wellness and calm and offer a sense of accomplishment when they thrive. And, of course, they take in carbon dioxide and provide your home with oxygen throughout the day.
Cozy up the couch and reading area with blankets and pillows that enhance the ambiance, not clutter up the place. Arrange seating where family and friends can relax and chat while enjoying a warm drink.
Another essential component of creating a hygge winter is to feel happy and satisfied with the simple things in life and focus on contentment. Don’t feel compelled to rush out and buy things just to adopt a hygge lifestyle.
Find uses for the things you haven’t been able to part with, no matter how ruthlessly you tried to purge your home. Or if you can’t, that tells you it’s time for it to go.
A Hygge Winter Wonderland, Your Bedroom
Since we spend a third, if not half, of our lives in bed, this room is vital for creating a warm and cozy feeling of hygge. It is not only the start of your day when you open your eyes, but it is the last area surrounding you each night.
Consider what is most important for YOU to feel enveloped in safety, security, and satisfaction before you sleep.
Here are some winter hygge ideas for your bedroom to get you started:
- Comfy blanket(s) and proper pillows for your best sleep
- Check your lighting, remove harsh blue lights/bulbs
- Snuggle and enjoy a book
- Use candles for lighting
- Arrange air-purifying live plants
- Remove dust magnets tchotchke (krimskrams)
- Use a neutral and serene color scheme
- Declutter and decorate until you have your hyggelig room
Check out How to Create a Relaxing and Cozy Bedroom Sanctuary for ways to hygge in your bedroom.
What If These Hygge Activities and Ideas Are Already Part of My Routine?
Hygge is about a relaxed slowness and being genuinely conscious, not just the ability to be present; you’ll experience the feelings of hygge when you recognize and enjoy the present.
Because this whole concept is about a feeling, it is why many Danish people claim there isn’t a literal translation for ‘hygge.”
You Can Enjoy a Hygge Winter
When you can’t seem to enjoy winter because you hate it, it definitely seems like it lasts forever. Thankfully it doesn’t, but what better way to shorten that time due to a newfound lifestyle with hygge activities and ideas?
You aren’t going to escape winter any time soon unless you plan to move to a tropical climate, so try to enjoy winter hygge instead.
The days may feel shorter, but so will the season when you enjoy winter instead of hating it, hygge style!
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