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Counter the strain of the digital age with Hygge

Scandinavians agree that Canadians could benefit from the concept of hygge time, which might help make the winter a little less frosty, and a lot more cozy.  

Winters in Scandinavian countries are long and cold, and days are short with very little light. According to Eva Mamchur at the Danish Canadian Club, on a cold, dark, winter night, the Danes will say to each other, “Let’s go home and hygge.”

Living the Hygge lifestyle is as easy as curling up with a good book and some tea. The Danish way of life focuses on being comfy, comfortable, and stress-free. (Photo by Jp Pitogo/SAIT)

Hygge time might include some candlelight, hot chocolate, or a glass of wine, but according to Mamchur, it really means getting together with family or friends “to just create a little cozy atmosphere.” 

Hygge time has to do with getting through a dark winter, and Canadians could also benefit from this approach, according to Mamchur. 

Hygge, pronounced Hoo-Gah, is an all-purpose word that can be used as an adjective, a noun, or a verb, according to Krista Hermanson, founder of Krista Hermanson Design in Calgary, Alta. 

The Danish word means something close to “cozy time,” but the emphasis is on human connection and spending time with friends and family. 

“[Hygge] is about having real conversations without getting distracted by outside things – so electronics, television, or the outside world.”

Hygge time could be the answer to the “hyper-paced, technologically-driven” world we live in, according to Hermanson.

“I really believe that hygge is the antidote to the stresses of modern life. So I’ve become a little bit of a hygge evangelist.”

Turning off one’s phone would be a very hygge thing to do, but all technology doesn’t need to get the boot. 

Watching television, or playing Wii, could be a very hygge thing to do as long as it’s time spent with loved ones. 

A Friday movie night,  with a big bowl of popcorn and some cozy blankets and pillows, all while snuggling up on your sectional would be a very hygge thing to do, according to Hermanson. 

“The focus is on people having the experience as opposed to the delivery of an outside experience.”

There are some simple ways Hermanson said students can employ hygge into their lives:

Be intentional about the environment you’re trying to create. 

Reduce overhead lighting and eliminate fluorescent lights, and light some candles to create a soft glow. 

Make yourself a delicious cup of tea, or another favourite hot beverage. 

Curl up with a good book or a cozy blanket and take a few moments to exhale the pressures of the day. 

Have real conversations, and put the phone away. 

“It’s not good for our brains to be constantly yanked out of what we’re doing and pulled into other environments.

“What happens is the opposite of mindfulness. We end up being fractured, which our body translates as stress.”

“[Hygge] is stress relief. If you come home and you’re stressed, it’s a little light in that dark winter,” said Mamchur.

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