Chances are, you've heard the word hygge (pronounced HOO-ga) being tossed around as of late. For the unexposed, Hygge House provides a great definition: "Hygge is a Danish word that is a feeling or mood that comes [from] taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary, every day moments more meaningful, beautiful or special."
In other words, hygge is totally what you make of it.
The word evokes the coziness of a cabin in Scandinavia, a light snow falling while you read your favorite book in front of a fireplace. Hygge is all about what you chose to do during the day, and how it benefits your overall state of calm. It's a hard word to define, because it's not a physical thing.
I spent time in Iceland, and it just felt different. The light was softer, voices seemed to be hushed, and things moved a bit slower in general. It wasn't until someone else told me about the idea of hygge that it clicked: the people I encountered were just taking the time to enjoy what they were doing, whether it was serving a drink at a bar or sharing coffee with a loved one.
Before, I would just call it "me time." Taking a second to disconnect from the nagging world of social media and phone apps and enjoy the company of someone else—or just a few minutes of silence making tea on your own.
There are plenty of guides out there on how to better tap into hygge in your home, but one of the best ways to embrace the lifestyle is by immersing yourself in it during a staycation. The best part is, you don't have to make a lot of changes—you just need to commit to doing things mindfully and taking the proper time to enjoy them.
You're only a couple of steps away from treating yourself to a hygge staycation. Here's how I suggest going about it:
Buy a New Candle
There's something about flickering candlelight that really sets the mood. Set up tea lights in the places you visit most in your home, or just place a big candle in your room. Buy yourself a present and pick out a candle with multiple wicks in your favorite scent (hey, even staycations deserve souvenirs).
Treat Yourself to a New Book
Reading is one of those hobbies that becomes the first thing to fall to the wayside when faced with a busy schedule. Give yourself an entire afternoon and pick up that book you've been trying to finish, grab a favorite story, or buy a paperback you've always wanted to read. If you have a fireplace, make sure to set yourself up in front of it with a glass of tea or mulled wine.
Plan a Weekend of Meals You've Always Wanted to Cook
Before you officially kick off your hygge staycation, plan out two days' worth of meals and snacks that you want to prepare for yourself (or a couple of friends!). Pull out the cookbooks or hit the Internet for inspiration—Smitten Kitchen has a lot of simple recipes full of comforting flavors. Don't make this about eating healthy, make it about your favorite ingredients. You are, after all, on vacation.
When you do get down to the cooking, really take the time to enjoy it. Put on your favorite album, set out the ingredients, and have fun. Hygge is as much mindful as it is trendy.
Get Up Early, Just to Make Tea or Coffee
On the first day of your hygge-cation, get up 30 minutes earlier than your weekend wake-up time and make your own morning beverage instead of buying it. Think of it as a morning meditation, with an especially delicious byproduct.
Spend 30 Minutes Journaling
While you're enjoying your coffee or tea, grab a journal and just start writing. You don't need a prompt—if you're having issues getting started, starting writing about what you did the day before.
Then Go Back to Bed and Cover Yourself in Blankets
After you've done your journaling, head back to bed to watch a movie or just lay buried in blankets (the bigger, the better). Hygge is all about feeling cozy, and there's nothing cozier than taking a quick mid-morning nap as the light of the day streams into your home. Take some time to listen to your home as it settles into the day. If it's nice out, open a window and listen to the different morning sounds happening outside.
Take a Long Bath
Skip the shower and opt for a bath. If you're really going all in, plan ahead and buy a scented bath bomb or soaking salts. Grab that book you were reading and take in a story before the water gets too cold.
Invite a Friend Over for a Glass of Wine—or Tea
By the second or third day, you may be feeling a bit bored in your hygge nest. The best solution? Invite a friend over for dinner. Try cooking together, eating together, and just sharing stories over a glass of post-dinner tea or wine. Again, fireplace suggested.
Disconnect From All Electronics, Even If Just for an Afternoon
One of the best things about hygge is that it really is all about creating a cozy space. If you don't want that space to include constant phone notifications, turn it off. If the thought of disconnecting for a full day sends you into a fit of anxiety, try it for an hour or two.
Even better: Head into your neighborhood with no plan (or Google Maps), and spend the afternoon perusing shops. End the day by picking a new spot for dinner.
Try Your Hand at Watercoloring
Making things with your hands can be incredibly therapeutic, if only for the reminder that creativity isn't just something you see on a screen. Grab a watercolor palette, a brush, mixed media paper, and a cup with water, and get to it. There's is no right or wrong when it comes to painting.
If watercoloring isn't your thing, try teaching yourself to knit via YouTube videos or grab a coloring book. Depending on where you live, you could sign up for a painting or pottery class, as well. Anything that takes you out of your ordinary routine.
Take a Long Walk in Nature
After having the time to calm yourself to the very core, head outside and take in the places you frequent every day. Chances are you'll recognize new details when you take the time to slow down and digest your surroundings. Scandinavian countries have been named some of the happiest, and the amount of time they spent outdoors is thought to have something to do with that. Call up your favorite people, and take that hike.