Hygge for Your Health: Benefits of This Cozy Wellness Trend

hygge

Do you love curling up with a blanket, a cup of coffee and a good book? You might already be practicing Hygge more than you think. Hygge is a concept originated in Danish culture that focuses on living with a sense of comfort, coziness, and peace. It has been described as, "creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people."

There is a debate on the proper pronunciation of the word Hygge, either "hue-guh" or "hoo-gah," but what is so intriguing about this concept is that there are actual health benefits to living a Hygge-focused lifestyle.

Benefits of Hygge

There have been a variety of benefits tied to the practice of hygge. Happiness researchers continually find Denmark to have some of the happiest people on Earth, which Danes attribute to the practice of hygge. Feeling increased happiness could certainly be a perk of practicing Hygge, but there may be other emotional, physical and relationship benefits as well.

Emotional Benefits

Hygge decor is intended to promote a sense of calm and peace in the living space. Since we make sense of, our experiences and environment through the use of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell, it may come as no surprise that creating a cozy living space would help us feel less anxious and promote a sense of emotional well-being and safety. These feeling of comfort and safety can better allow us, and those sharing the space with us, to let down our guards and be more present and open to connecting with one another.

Examples of possible emotional benefits may include:

  • Less depression and anxiety
  • Increased feelings of self-worth
  • Increased optimism
  • Lowered stress
  • Greater sense of mindfulness
  • Improved self-compassion
  • Increased practice of gratitude

Physical Benefits

When we feel safe and calm, our body responds accordingly. It is in moments of perceived danger or threat that our bodies naturally go into a response of fight, flight, or freeze. A hygge-style environment promotes an atmosphere of safety and comfort, where our minds and bodies can feel more relaxed. In a space like this, there is much less need for us to scan our environment for threats.

Examples of possible physical benefits may include:

  • Improved sleep
  • Weight regulation
  • Fewer cortisol (stress hormone) spikes
  • Improved practice of self-care
  • Reduced need for unhealthy coping behaviors like alcohol or drugs

Social Benefits

When we feel comfortable and emotionally safe, we are more likely to reach out to build and nurture connections with others. In a hygge-focused lifestyle, there is an emphasis on connecting with family, friends and loved ones. Spending time with those who are most important to us creates a sense of belonging and connection that research continues to show impacts our health and well-being. We feel more confident when connected with others, we feel safe to take risks and we are more open to practicing vulnerability with others, all things that can be facilitated within an hygge-style living space.

Examples of possible social benefits may include:

  • Focus on togetherness
  • Feelings of comfort and safety
  • Increased trust 
  • Increased intimacy
  • New social connections
  • Improved existing relationships
  • Less reliance on social media

How to Use Hygge in Your Life

Most of us would enjoy feeling happy, peaceful and cozy, but do we have to move to Denmark in order to fully embrace the Hygge lifestyle? No! There are many easy ways that we can incorporate elements of hygge into our daily lives and our living spaces. Implementing some of these elements can start bringing you those feeling of peace, connection, and comfort in your everyday life.

Lighting

Lighting is an essential part of creating a sense of hygge in the living space. The use of warm, soft white light creates an inviting and comfortable space compared to harsh, bright white bulbs or fluorescent lighting. Remember that the higher the lumens on the bulb, the brighter the light. You may also elect to install a dimmer to have options for lighting the space the way you want.

Another method is to use floor lamps rather than overhead lighting. Overhead lights can create light that is too bright for the room and may feel institutional. Using floor and table lamps allow for lighting to create a more intimate space, lighting areas where people would be sitting to read, relax and talk with each other.

Lastly, candles are a hallmark light sourced used within a hygge-style space. Candles inherently create a warm, soft light and a sense of relaxation and comfort so popular with this style. If open-flamed candles present too much of a hazard for your living space due to pets or children, you can elect to use LED candles.

Texture

Hygge is all about things that feel soft and cozy. You will want to incorporate soft accessories like blankets, throws, pillows, and rugs to create a warm, inviting space. The soft textures are calming and allow us to feel soothed when our anxieties run high. Soft textures allow others to feel safe in the space as well, calming fears and allowing people to open up more with each other. Conversations can feel more calm and open in this space, rather than feeling rushed or pressured.

Decor

A calming environment can be created with the use of accessories, such as wood elements, indoor plants and simple, clean decor. Try to use pieces that have special meaning such as pictures of family and loved ones. You can place photo albums on the coffee table with pictures of travel or experiences that you've shared with others. Hygge is about warmth and connection, so use decor to draw people in and create conversation.

Warmth

Warmth is not so much about temperature as it is a feeling of emotional warmth. A fireplace is a hallmark trait of a hygge-style space but that is not an option for everyone. Anything that you can do to create that kind of inviting, warm space will be a plus. Examples of this would be candles and displays that use accent lighting. You can also use small string lights in certain areas of the home to help create that inviting warmth that a fireplace would give the space.

Color

The colors chosen for a living space are a significant part of setting a cozy stage for yourself and your guests. Neutral colors are often chosen, particularly whites, soft whites, blushes and soft browns. The use of neutral colors on the wall actually help to calm your mind as well, which fits with this particular style of living. Hygge is about calm, soft, soothing and comfortable. In other words, hygge promotes an anti-anxiety environment for living and spending time with close friends and loved ones.

People

Experiencing meaningful connection with others is at the heart of hygge-style living. The goal is to be present and connect with the people around you. In nurturing these relationships we are allowing ourselves and others to experience a sense of belonging. When we that we belong, we feel emotional safety. Emotional safety, in turn, creates a positive social experience and allows us to feel the physical benefit of ease, calm and connection.

Activity

Hygge-style activities typically involve things that help us feel peaceful, cozy and connected with others. Gatherings with friends in the home are a primary activity. Gatherings are focused on the connection with others, not the presentation. There is no need for a formal black-tie affair. In fact, hygge living would suggest just the opposite. Gatherings should offer a space that is casual, inviting and offers people a place to feel comfortable and focus on relationships and connecting with one another.  Consider a game night with friends, having friends or neighbors over for coffee or hosting a book night.

How to Use Hygge at Work

You can easily implement hygge elements in your workspace. Work is a place where we might find it challenging to take care of ourselves or to create an environment focused on peace and calm. Find small, safe ways to create change in your space to help promote a sense of calm. You will find it easier to enjoy the space, which could lead to better productivity and job satisfaction.

Ideas to try:

  • Accent lamp with soft-white lighting
  • Small potted succulent plant
  • Appropriate sized area rug to place in your workspace
  • Pictures of family and friends

A Word From Verywell

Hygge is all about comfort, peace, and connection. The benefits of implementing some of these elements reach across our emotional health, physical health and our social health. Incorporating some of these ideas into your living environment may offer you a space that is relaxing, inviting to others and great for your health and well-being.