So, what on earth is hygge and why does it matter? I got thinking about this in part because of a question of the day a while back on the Really Real Blog.
Wikipedia says that hygge is “a Danish and Norwegian word for a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment.” The website hyggehouse.com explains that hygge involves consciousness, slowness, and enjoying the present. Hygge is about intimate spaces and living rather than existing. It sounds like hygge has a strong element of mindfulness to it.
According to the Visit Denmark website:
Hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Cosying up with a loved one for a movie – that’s hygge, too. And there’s nothing more hygge than sitting around with friends and family, discussing the big and small things in life.
When I was growing up, my Grandma’s house was hygge central. Grandma’s house always felt very comfortable and lived in. It was a space where life was easy and slowed down. Part of it was the decor, but much of it was the ambiance that Grandma created.
My childhood home, where I lived until I moved out at 18, was fairly hygge too. My parents were clean freaks, which isn’t really that compatible with having children around, but there were a lot of stable routines that contributed to a very comfortable home environment.
When my parents retired, they moved from the small town where I grew up to the city where my Grandma lives. Their current home doesn’t feel hygge to me, and I always feel like a guest there rather than it being my home. That’s been the case as long as they’ve lived there, even when my depression was in remission, so I doubt it will change. It feels more like a show house, not in attractiveness so much as just being overly ordered.
I’ve been in the condo where I currently live for 14 years, and it feels quite hygge. Coziness has driven most of my decor choices. I’ve got comfy furniture and cozy blankets, and most of the pictures on the walls are photos from my travels. The walls are warm colours, and a great example of my willingness to accept imperfection. I did all the painting myself, and I’m an absolutely useless painter, but I’m okay with that imperfection because it’s mine. I suppose there’s a metaphor in there for accepting my own internal imperfections, or maybe that’s reading too much into my bad painting.
I’ve always liked my home space to be calming, and that’s even more important in managing the effects of my illness. Home is where I’m safe. Home is where I unwind and regenerate, and I want the space to be conducive to that. My guinea pigs are messy, kicking up dust and hay and bedding and poop, and having hardened poop pellets scattered over the floor is all just part of the hygge factor.
I’ve also got a nice outdoor space. My balcony faces into an enclosed courtyard, where it’s very quiet except for all the birds singing. That feels pretty hygge too.
Do you think your home is hygge? Does the level of coziness of your space affect your mental health?
The COVID-19/Mental Health Coping Toolkit page has a wide range of resources to support better mental health and wellbeing.