Whether you’re looking to boost your overall well being, or changing your mind-set to enjoy those simple pleasures, hygge, pronounced “hue-gah” is a lifestyle trend that the Scandinavians swear by. And what could be better than the feeling of living well without cutting out the things you love?
Could the fact that Denmark is officially the world’s happiest country, according to the 2016 World Happiness Report* be down to the Danes hygge lifestyle? We talk to nutritionist Cassandra Barns about making 8 simple changes to adapt to the hygge lifestyle.
1) Eat comfort foods. Yes – we said it. Hygge is all about comfort, so what could be better than a big warm bowl of porridge, topped with your favourite berries? Nutritionist, Cassandra Barns says: “Porridge is not only warming and comforting: it’s also a good source of slow-releasing energy, Nairn’s porridge oats (RRP £1,99, www.nairns-oatcakes.com) are high in fibre and support healthy digestion. What’s more, the beta glucan fibre in oats can help keep cholesterol in check too. It’s the perfect wholesome comfort food.”
2.) Get outdoors. Fresh air and long walks are always encouraged to live a healthy lifestyle. This is something that is really important to the Danes, and key to keeping fit and youthful. The Nordic temperatures mean it is colder than it is in the UK, so like them, embrace the outside world and wrap up warm in your favourite coat, hat, scarf and gloves!
3) Mood boosting. As well as comfort, hygge encompasses the ideas of happiness and nourishing the mind and body. So raw chocolate is another great ‘hygge food’. According to Cassandra, “As well as being a comforting indulgence, raw chocolate, such as OMBAR Chocolate (RRP, £1.99, www.ombar.co.uk) contains natural substances that may boost mood, including one called phenylethylamine (PEA), which said to be released in higher amounts in the brain when we’re in love. It’s also rich in magnesium, which is associated with relaxation.”
4.) Take a break from life and enjoy the moment. It is so easy to forget to take a break from the office, or to visit your favourite coffee shop and watch the world go by. Hygge is all about those simple moments that you don’t always appreciate or make the most of. So why not try making a simple week night dinner into more of a memorable occasion by laying the table with your favourite crockery, lighting a few candles and turning off any background noise, such as the TV or radio, in order to really enjoy the moment.
5.) Hue – gah the night away. The word “Hue-gah” translates literally as “cosiness”, so what better way to spend the evening than sitting by the fire on a cold night. For many people the darkness fills us with dread at 4pm, but why not embrace the darkness when you get home, with things that make you happy, such as knitted socks, incense and warm blankets. Happiness is key to embracing the hygge lifestyle.
6.) Plan a date with family & friends –‘Hygge togetherness’ is hugely important to the Danes. It is very easy to let days go by without spending quality time with family or friends. So with that in mind, get the diary out, and plan a few dates with the people closest to you. Hygge is all about enjoying those little things in life, and stopping to make memories that will be remembered.
7.) Bake your own bread – simple as that. Baking is a productive yet relaxing activity that the Danes enjoy to do. To nourish your mind and body, look for recipes that use buckwheat flour. According to Cassandra, “Clearspring Organic Buckwheat flour (RRP £2.59, www.clearspring.co.uk) is naturally gluten-free and very nutritious. Like dark chocolate, it’s rich in magnesium, known as ‘nature’s tranquiliser’. And it’s also a great source of iron, zinc and B vitamins to support energy and your immune system.”
8.) Light up those candles. One of the first things Danes associate Hygge with is candles. Whether it’s tea-lights on a table or lanterns by an open fireplace candles that can give you an added enjoyment to snuggling up in the evening. Invest natural scents such as fresh pine, fir cones and orange for an organic aroma that brings the magic of the outdoors into your home.