Hygge and Good Mental Health

There is something special about spending time outside, with friends around a campfire. The togetherness, a hot drink, clutching a mug, telling stories. Closeness. Laughter.

The Danish call it hygge (pronounced “hooggah”). Meik Wiking describes hygge as cocoa by candlelight. Others translate it as “the art of creating intimacy” or “cosiness of the soul”. In it’s essence hygge can be described as the feel good factor binding ourselves to others. There are a lot of other factors but they distill down to great mental health, a “with it in the moment” time.

Meik’s lovely book “The Little Book of Hyyge – the Danish way to live well” is packed with all things hygge. But then as the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen he should know. To create the right atmosphere we need to follow a few guidelines from lighting (candles), food (of the comfort variety, of course) and clothing (comfy and relaxed) and of course (but not essential) friends. The atmosphere of hygge is sumptuous and feeds all our senses. If it is taste the food is sweet and delicious or has added richness. The sound of hygge is waves lapping on a beach, a splashing waterfall or fountain, wind in the trees or the gentle luffing of sails. What does hygge smell like? Like the first rains after a long dry smell, of fresh bread or a roast cooking, or early morning freshness and flowers. Hygge feels like a warm wool sweater, the smoothness of a wooden table or a ceramic mug, of fur, throws and leather, it is warm, rustic and organic. To see hygge we look at the glow of logs in a fire, or the northern lights dancing overhead and stars on a crisp cold night, of lightening outside when we are cosy inside, of gently falling slow in the darkness, at a flickering candled flame.

Great hygge and good mental health are well matched. To learn more, read Meik’s book obtainable here.

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