Let’s talk about us for a minute, shall we?
Our lives tend to be jam-packed, and we deal with our share of stress.
Other people depend on us.
This is why we shouldn’t forget to care for ourselves and strive for a high quality of life!
In that spirit, I invite you to join me on a journey this winter.
Let’s explore the happy experience of hygge (pronounced hoo-ga)!
What is it, exactly?
Where did it come from?
And what does it have to do with self-care?
We’ll look at the science, gather the facts, and create a self-care program that will truly sustain us through the frosty winter months that are coming.
Are you in?
Here’s where we’ll begin:
- The 4-1-1 on Hygge
- Some Essential Tools for the Journey
- Real Self-Care
A Recipe for a Happier Life
To best understand the original concept of hygge, it’s best to go straight to the source – Denmark.
And since there’s not a direct translation for hygge in English, their definition is my favorite.
They define it as “a recipe for a happier life.”
In terms of coping with the cold, darker days of winter, Danes, along with their neighbors, Scandinavians, are the masters.
According to the Danes themselves at visitdenmark.com:
“Hygge is as Danish as pork roast, and it goes far in illuminating the Danish soul. In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge.”
As Danish as pork roast! How cute are they?!
Denmark is certainly qualified to weigh in on happier living.
They also ranked first in the world for work-life balance.
I think we can learn a thing or two from them!
So, when a country – whose foundational principle of life is taking care of yourself, creating cozy atmospheres, and sharing warmth with friends – ranks that highly on a happiness index, I want their recipe! Don’t you?
Some of the key parts of Danish hygge:
- Kindness to self. Sleep in when you can, say no when you need to!
- Comfort foods. Revive your favorite food growing up or your grandmother’s famous cobbler recipe.
- Intimate settings. Rather than a night on the town in heels, think shoes off and a bottle of wine on the sofa.
- Relaxation. Deep breaths, bubble baths, lots of me time.
- Indulgence. Uncork that bottle of red, order that gooey dessert (bonus if it has words like dark, buttery, caramelized, and rich in the name)!
Side note: These parts aren’t set rules; you don’t have to follow them to a T!
Do whatever you need to be comfortable and take care of yourself.
Hygge can be whatever you want it to be!
For a real-life example, picture this scenario: You’re on your couch in your pajamas with a cup of hot cocoa, a soft quilt, fuzzy socks, and there’s a holiday-scented candle burning.
Now there’s some holiday hygge!
I’m going to break down the other key components, so keep on reading!
Bring A Friend
What really stands out to me in the definition of hygge is enjoying the good things in life with good people.
My relationships with my friends and family mean a lot to me.
I think that’s a crucial part of the holiday season – spending time with our loved ones and making memories.
Let’s commit to sharing hygge with those important to us, even if it’s as simple as sharing this blog post.
We all know someone who deserves some me time (and we time).
Maybe your mom who’s a solid rock of support for you, or a sister, or a few friends you want to see more of this season.
As the old saying goes, “Stop and smell the roses.”
Taking a break doesn’t have to evoke feelings of guilt!
Tend to Your Environment
A warm and cozy atmosphere is a necessity.
This is where the spirit of hygge really comes alive!
It’s about what goes into our surroundings and aesthetics we can customize to our liking – warm candlelight, delicious aromas, and music we enjoy.
Think of baking homemade cookies with smooth jazz playing in the background while the fireplace is burning.
In particular, the Danes are famous for living by candlelight in the dark months.
They even line the streets with them!
Whether you’re grouping them together in candlescapes, or scattering them about as singles, bring the glow of candlelight into the rooms where you spend the most time.
Also, let’s not forget those scents!
From pine to chestnut to apple pie, there are plenty of options to choose from to bring some yummy holiday smells into your home.
And holiday decorations, or even your decor that hangs year-round, can transform a home into an escape from “the real world.”
You don’t have to be an interior designer; something as simple as a large cloth tapestry can totally change the look and feel of a room.
There’s just something about wreaths and lights that makes a home instantly 10x cozier!
Look around at your environment right now.
What things can you add to contribute to coziness?
What do you need to take away?
How can you transform your space?
Right now at my desk, I have soft Christmas music playing and a candle burning.
For me, there’s something about Christmas music that just changes my state of mind and puts me in a better mood!
For you, that might be country, pop, or classic rock.
Hibernate (Into Your Blankets)
‘Tis the season to snuggle up and settle into soft and plush surroundings.
Let’s embrace the textures and fabrics we love, and envelope ourselves in softness!
Nothing could be better than chunky knit sweaters, scarves, and big throw blankets for warmth.
Clothes should be made of comfy materials that keep us warm (i.e. baggy sweatpants, fleece pullovers).
If you’ve been thinking about buying that cashmere sweater you’ve had your eye on, go for it!
I’ll go for faux fur, which is everywhere from pillow to lapels on jackets, to hats and area rugs!
Hygge + Your Skin = Indulgence
Skincare pairs with hygge, too!
Soft skin that’s healthy and well-nourished is the goal.
What goes on your skin should be relaxing and soothing, like a green tea facial mask or a rich body butter made with argan oil.
Let them really sink in and penetrate the surface.
Go ahead, pamper yourself!
Here are a few ideas to hype up your hygge skincare game:
- Deeply cleanse with a mud mask
- Make your own lip scrub
- Ask your SO for an all-over massage with avocado oil
- Take a bubble bath
- Give yourself a manicure and a pedicure
The snuggle factor will definitely be at a 10!
If you haven’t tried diffusing essential oils in your home, I recommend you try it!
Used in aromatherapy, they’re a natural remedy for anxiety as they provide soothing, calming, and relaxing effects.
In other words, essential oils make you feel good because they smell good.
They make excellent skincare ingredients as well!
See below for essential oils that will set your hygge mood AND take care of your skin!
- Lavender: detoxifies the skin; treats acne and eczema
- Ylang-Ylang: reduces irritation and redness; regulates sebum production
- Chamomile: soothes skin; anti-inflammatory and anti-itching
- Bergamont: natural cleanser; unclogs pores
- Tangerine: treats acne and irritation; prevents skin infections
- Jasmine: moisturizes and evens skin tone; protects against pollutants
- Lemongrass: natural toner; purifies pores
Hydrate From the Inside Out
The dry air of winter does a number on our skin, so staying hydrated becomes a central goal when it’s cold.
Start with drinking some good ol’ fashioned water.
I’ve said this many times before, but it’s one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to achieve moisturized, plumper, and smoother skin.
And, remember that soups and teas are a valid way to increase your fluid intake.
Do you want to know my favorite hygge secret to consuming extra water when it’s cold?
It’s cinnamon tea!
Besides hydration, the health benefits of drinking cinnamon tea are many.
Cinnamon warms the body naturally and increases blood flow all over.
This is great for the skin when cold air constricts blood vessels at the surface.
As if that’s not enough, the antioxidants in cinnamon prevent fat from settling in the arteries.
Cinnamon tea actually regulates blood sugar and reduces bad cholesterol levels as well. Win!
To keep your skin in tip-top shape despite cold, dry air, you want to stay hydrated and moisturized.
This means your skin has enough water content and it will appear smooth and supple.
To replace the moisture that’s lost from spending time in heated air, below are my favorite go-to ingredients.
How Hygge Relates to Self-care
In short, we care about self-care.
And the self-care trend has exploded on social media.
Here are some stats from Instagram:
- #hygge: over 2 million posts
- #selfcare: over 3 million posts
- #treatyoself: over 3 million posts
- #selflove: over 10 million posts
This trend may have come around just in time.
As a society, and especially as women, we’re running on empty.
Research has shown that once you go over the normal 7-hour work day (and this includes caring for children or working at home), it begins to erode your health quickly.
And according to that same research, extra-long work hours have become a norm.
On some level, which seems to be revealing itself on social media, we know that’s not healthy.
We know we need to take more “me” time!
Hashtags like the ones above are helping to eliminate the stigma that surrounds self-care.
In the past (and still today), people have felt guilty, or even shameful, when talking about taking time for themselves.
For example, according to a poll of 3,000 U.S. adults commissioned by Kaiser Permanente, 70% said they feel people are more open to discussing mental health compared to a decade ago.
With that in mind, I propose that we get serious about self-care – serious about supporting ourselves and finding those things that comfort and sustain us.
We shouldn’t be afraid to get it out in the open.
No more attention-grabbing quick fixes!
And in the meantime, let’s see our real beauty and celebrate it.
The Science of Self-care
Now, let’s be real for a second.
Not every bowl of ice cream or shopping spree necessarily qualifies as true self-care.
“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama
So, I decided to find out what actions make a real difference in the way we feel (and feel about ourselves) over the long-term.
Here’s what I came up with.
Control Your Perception
Let’s do a little experiment: Quick, name two things you’d change about your looks.
Now, quick, name two things you love about yourself.
Did it take you longer the second time?
If so, it’s OK!
But important, right?
Sometimes we work so hard, and work so hard on fixing things, seeing the positive in ourselves can be a challenge.
As we know, the media uses emotions like fear and guilt to manipulate us on the daily.
The fear that we’re not good enough is an advertiser’s best friend, right?
If we want to take back control of our perceptions about ourselves, our bodies, our appearance, we must resist that manipulation.
Turn inward, like they do in Denmark, where intimate gatherings and solo snuggle fests provide maximum hygge.
I want my clients to use skincare and cosmetics in a way that will make them feel beautiful, not flawed.
So, let’s carefully frame the way we talk to ourselves – not “I’m using makeup to cover up ugly spots or hiding imperfections.”
Instead, think: “I’m nourishing my skin.”
And, “I’m highlighting my most fabulous features.”
And, do me a favor, tell yourself how great you look as often as you can.
The next time you look in the mirror, I bet you’ll notice something different!
Here are some products to help you achieve maximum hygge!
For these winter months, we can afford to slow down a bit and turn our skincare routine into a mini-spa experience.
This kind of slow is good for the skin and the spirit, and it’s sure to spark that self-care we’re after.
Think “nourishment,” whether in the products we apply, the foods we eat, or the daily activities we choose.
And, don’t forget: Be gentle and mindful of how you speak to yourself.
Beauties, have you practiced hygge before? Do you have any go-to tips? What would you like to try? Share with us in the comments!