Hygge: The Key to Survive Winter Anywhere

Hygge:  The Key to Survive Winter Anywhere

From Sunny California to long harsh winters

In my late twenties, I moved across the country to Rochester NY, known for it long, cold and harsh winters, with very little sun.   Luckily, I met friend who decided that given where I was from, that he was going to teach me how to survive winter in upstate NY.   When winter approached, he told me about the different types of clothing I needed to get to stay warm, and where to find them.  He also taught me how to embrace what winter had to offer.  He encouraged me to take up winter sports, like cross-country skiing, and ice-skating.

cross country skiing is a great way to survive winterIt worked!   While many of my peers complained about winter, I had skiing to look forward to.  Because of where we lived, I could ski from my doorstep!   Cross-country skiing even helped me get around on snow days when it wasn’t safe to drive!

Apparently embracing the snow is one strategy the Danish use to get through their long harsh winters as well!


How the Danish survive winter

Known to be the happiest people in the world, the Danish have a practice called hygge that keeps them happy and content no matter how cold or windy it is outside!

What is hygge?

Hygge,” means coziness that fosters mental and emotional well being.


What does practicing survive winter by practicing hyggehygge feel like?

Hygge option 1:

Imagine going home, lighting a fire in the fireplace, burning candles or turning on lights with a soft warm glow.

You have a mug of hot chocolate with a dash of cinnamon, and you have that book you’ve been dying to have time to read.

You are wearing fleece, or maybe your most comfortable PJs and warm and cozy socks.    You’ve wrapped yourself in a blanket with your book in front of the fire.

Hygge option 2:

It’s a cold winter saturday, and you and your loved one aren’t quite ready to get out of bed yet. You spend an extra half an hour spooning, and feeling comforted by your honey.

When you are ready to get up, you make some delicious hot coffee, and prepare your favorite French toast.   You sit in your breakfast nook with your warm fresh toast and maple syrup,  and watch the rain fall on the trees in your yard.

Hygge option 3:

survive winter by enjoying hot chocolate in the snowYou get up early, dress in your warm winter gear, have a yummy breakfast, and meet your friends to go snow shoeing on one of your favorite trails.  You marvel at the beauty of the snow on the trees, and the different crystal formations you see.   Your friends point out the holly and the evergreens you pass, and the views of snow covered mountains.   A friend has brought hot chocolate, and share yummy christmas cookies, before heading home.

Hygge option 4:

You join your friend who is having game night at his house.  There are yummy winter treats, egg-nog, hot apple cider and a fire burning in the fire place.   Some people are playing games and others are talking!


How to Benefit from Hygge

In truth there are an infinite number of ways to practice Hygge.   But keeping in mind these 4 key concepts will help you get the most out of your practice.

  1.  Do what feels good and nurturing, but mindfully.

The Danish are advocates of embracing comfort foods.   However the key to doing this without gaining weight is to not eat large portions and to eat them mindfully.   If you focus on appreciating what you are eating, you’ll find you’ll enjoy it more and you’ll need to eat less.

Another example of this is watching TV. You can turn on the TV and channel flip, but that wouldn’t be considered Hygge.    If you mindfully watch a favorite show or movie that you’ve been wanting to see, you’ll find it much more rewarding!

2.  Embrace nature.

It can be tempting in the Winter to spend all your time indoors to avoid the cold.  But winter can be a beautiful time of the year, if you have snow, or views of snow capped mountains.  The ice-crystals that form in the morning or around water have their own unique beauty as well!   If you seize the moment of what each season brings, whether its outside or even inside, you’ll be practicing Hygge.

3.  Spend time with friends and family

The best way to get through the long winter nights, is to do it with people you enjoy being with.   Winter is a perfect excuse to plan game nights, movie nights or holiday parties.   Alternatively, if you are introvert like me, spend it with the people and pets that mean the most to you.

4.  Make everything fun

One of the key concepts of hygge is to try to find the joy in every day activities.   Need some ideas about how to do this?  I find that my cat is a great reminder of how to celebrate the little things.  When she was a kitten, she turned making the bed into a game of hide and go seek.  One of her favorite things is jumping in the bathtub after someone has taken a shower.    A twist tie can easily be made into something to hunt, bat at and chase around.

Make ordinary things funFor those of us that aren’t cats, or don’t have a creative pet, we can turn on music, or listen to a podcast while we are working.  We can challenge ourselves to do things differently or from a new perspective. We can make the mundane more interesting, by doing things with others, and appreciating the fresh perspective they bring to the task at hand.

Why we all need to practice hygge

What I love about hygge is that it’s a reminds us to make the most of what we have.   It is also a fantastic practice to nurture and take care of ourselves.

The better we are at taking good care of ourselves, the better we will be at taking care of each other!   Love, compassion and care has to start with us, before we can adequately provide it for others.

Winter is a fantastic time to embrace your inner Dane!   What will you be doing to embrace the concept of hygge this winter?  Please comment below!

If you find it difficult to treat yourself well, you probably aren’t used to it.  Start with baby steps.   But if don’t believe you deserve to be treated well, then lets release what is getting in the way.  Everyone deserves to be treated well, regardless of how you’ve been treated in the past!   Contact me here to schedule a complimentary consultation.

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The road to a more compassionate world begins with the compassion we express towards ourselves.


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