For the 50+ Traveler

It’s become an international buzzword: hygge. The Danish lifestyle concept and its benefits are all the rage, especially as we approach the winter. But what exactly is hygge, and how might it be your ticket to beating back the winter blues? We’ll explore the term and 10 simple tricks you can use to add more hygge to your life!

What Is Hygge?

The Danish word hygge -- pronounced HUE-gah -- quite literally translates to “a quality of comfort or coziness.” It’s no secret Danish winters can be bitterly cold, dark, and trend toward downright depressing. Injecting a bit of hygge into the mix makes the season a bit more bearable, but truth be told, Danes love to keep the practice going all year round. You might, too!

What Is A Hygge Mindset?

A hygge mindset is relatively easy to achieve: keep it simple. The concept of “less is more” is also important. Focusing on what really brings you joy and light, and doing or enjoying those things with the people who mean the most to you, is the essence of hygge. Truly embracing this lifestyle -- especially during winter’s long, dark months -- could lead to a happier, more content you!

The cozy lifestyle concept of hygge.

Why Consider Hygge For The Winter?

Let’s face it: for many of us, winter is hard. We miss the warmth, the sun, and the laid-back vibe that tend to come along with spring and summer. That’s why embracing hygge, and incorporating it into your home during the winter months, can really lift your mood and your spirit, just when you might need it the most. And especially when many of us are spending more time at home.

Tips For Creating Hygge At Home

So, now that you have a better understanding of hygge and its benefits, how do you achieve it at home? Here are 10 of our favorite suggestions to help make your winter a bit better and brighter, with the benefits hygge can provide.

1. Gather Round The Fire

During the winter, it’s easy to stay buttoned up and indoors. And while staying cozy is central to the idea of hygge, fresh air -- unless absolutely bitterly cold -- can be a mood-booster. This year, we’ve invested in a smokeless fire pit, so we can enjoy each other’s company outside, bundled up, by the crackle and warmth of a good fire out under the stars. We’ve been enjoying our gas fireplaces inside our home as well. There’s just something soothing about firelight that really contributes to a hygge sort of feel.

2. Cozy Up In A Chunky Blanket

In the Danish capital of Copenhagen, cafe culture is embraced as it is through much of Europe. There are many quaint outdoor eateries open all year round. During the colder months, each chair has a warm, fuzzy blanket slung over it. Patrons are invited to snuggle up and get comfortable while they nosh, sip, and enjoy each other’s company. This is another great way to introduce hygge into your home: Just a couple of chunky cable-knit or faux-fur blankets can make all the difference in creating a cozy, warm atmosphere. Remember: We all loved our blankets when we were small -- they can provide just as much comfort now!

The cozy lifestyle concept of hygge.

3. Savor Your Favorite Hot Beverage

Nothing’s more calming or soothing than sipping a warm beverage, perhaps from your favorite mug or pottery piece. We love indulging in high-end options when the winter months turn chilly, including sips that take us back to previous travels (they make great holiday gifts, too!). Jasmine green tea, inspired by time spent in China, rich hot chocolate like the kind we savored in Spain, even the Turkish favorite salep are all in our rotation. And of course, no one’s going to complain if you opt to add a splash or two of Bailey’s or whiskey to transform that beverage into a toddy!

4. Break Out The Fleecy Socks And Sweats

Simple creature comforts are essential to hygge, and of course, that includes your choice of attire. Stylish but snuggly fleece or even cashmere lounging pants -- paired with a looser fitting top, sweater, or cardigan -- can easily be dressed up or down with jewelry or scarves. And of course, you’ll want to extend that comfort down to your feet. Chunky wool-blend socks are our favorite for the winter. They’re not scratchy, and they also breathe well so your feet don’t overheat. It’s not difficult to adopt a laid-back hygge approach to your wardrobe, and we highly recommend it!

5. Curl Up With A Book

Who doesn’t love tackling a brand-new book? No matter the genre (although we’re partial to travelogues!), winter is the perfect season to whittle down your “to-read” list. Curl up on the couch or loveseat, and spend a few hours just diving in. Reading has the incredible power to transport you to a place, even when you can’t physically visit. It’s a simple pleasure to indulge in when you want to kick back and fade into someone else’s story.

6. Take A Long, Luxe Bath

Hands down, this is one of our favorite tips on this list. Sometimes, a nice hot soak is all you need to melt away stress and create the ultimate sense of hygge. To really help achieve relaxation and balance, consider adding in a high-end aromatherapy element. Bath oils, bombs, or salts infused with natural essential oils can make the difference between an experience that’s blah and one that’s out of this world. Lavender, chamomile, sandalwood, and eucalyptus are among our favorites to soften the senses and soothe sore muscles. Lay back, inhale deeply, and let the water do its work!

The cozy lifestyle concept of hygge.

7. Enjoy Your Favorite Comfort Foods

There’s a reason why soups, stews, casseroles, and noodles are among our top winter dishes. This time of year, when it’s frosty and dark, we all crave something hearty and substantial -- real stick-to-your-ribs sorts of food. While it’s important to be conscious of your dietary choices, winter is the season to moderately indulge. Take the time to prepare and savor your favorites. A warm bowl of braised chicken paprikash, delicious dim sum, or even from scratch lasagna is often all we need to brighten our spirits and feel a bit more content and cozy. Throw in a batch of home-baked cookies or perhaps bread pudding, and the evening is something to celebrate!

8. Light Some Candles

There’s just something about candlelight that evokes a calming, comfortable feel. Whether they are at home on the dining table, scattered along the mantel, or perhaps in the bathroom or living room, candles carry some serious hygge power. Lit in the late afternoon, they can help soften the transition to the dark evening and are little beacons of brightness. We love them mixed with different essential oil scents, or even just plain. Word to the wise: You don’t ever want to leave them unattended. Also just as delightful (and less of a hazard) are the LED versions. No matter how you go, injecting a bit of candlelight into your home can really help transform it into a sanctuary.

9. Consider A Mindfulness Practice

Even taking just 10 minutes out of your day to settle in, slow down, center up, and focus on your breath can go a long way toward cultivating a sense of hygge. Cultivating a mindfulness practice can also bring health benefits, both mental and physical. If you’re unsure where to start, take it online. There are several excellent downloadable apps from which to choose, so you can access a guided practice from the comfort of your home or when we’re on the go again!

10. Take Time For Gratitude

Last but not least, try to find little moments to incorporate gratitude into your day. Focusing on what brings us joy and taking time to feel thankful for it truly helps create inner hygge. And it’s this sense of inner peace and contentment that has the power to propel you far beyond just surviving winter; it will allow you to thrive through it. Your gratitude doesn’t have to be for grand things, it can be for the simple, small gestures or objects that we truly cherish -- the warmth of the morning’s first cup of coffee, the softness of a dear pet curled at our feet, our partner’s smile. Keep in mind that beyond creature comforts, we can always create hygge within ourselves with a healthy dose of gratitude and wonder.