The Hygge Craze of 2016

In 2016 the word hygge was a finalist for word of the year by the Oxford Dictionary. While it didn't win, the fascination with the word that carries no exact translation to the English language continues. Hygge loosely can be translated to mean 'cozy.' However, it is more than just cozy.

Hygge is a conscious effort of living a life that embodies a feeling of well-being. It is the little moments that bring us joy. Lighting candles, opening the windows on a cool summer night to hear the crickets, enjoying freshly baked pastries, cuddling up on the couch with someone we love. All of these moments are hygge.

There are probably many reasons why we got excited about this concept in 2016 and why it has started to reappear over the last 18 months in the midst of covid lockdowns and extra hours spent at home. If I've learned anything since March 2020 it's that I need more joy in my life. But, just like other wellness trends, it can be tempting to think that this one thing (hygge) will fix all my problems. Could it?

It is common to have this mindset in health too. A new diet emerges. A supplement gains attention in the media for some research study that no one really checked the legitimacy of and a vegetable which everyone only pretends to like has suddenly become the best home made juice for you. We look for a quick fix that will help us to feel good and hopefully undo days, weeks, months or years of bad habits that led us to feel the way we do now.

What if we didn't have to have an all or nothing mindset?

What if we invested a little bit in the little things - the little moments to give us little changes over time?

Health and hygge go hand in hand. And honestly, it won't fix all of your problems. But it can help. Becoming mindful of the little moments, taking breaks, appreciating the good things in life can have a positive impact on your health as well.

For example....

Lighting a candle at dinner time and taking a moment to practice gratitude - saying grace for the meal in front of you.....can help prepare the body for eating, stimulating digestion can improve nutrient absorption.

Waking in the morning, going outside for a walk or easy jog and getting sunlight exposure first thing.....stimulates the cortisol awakening response resulting in a better sleep wake cycle.

Dimming the lights in the evening, opting for low light or candle light.....helps to create a routine letting the body know it is time to start winding down for bed stimulating regular melatonin production.

Spending time with your pet after a long day at work to help you unwind.....raises levels of serotonin and dopamine, two neurotransmitters responsible for helping you feel calm and happy.

While each of these things in of themselves do not seem like a conscious act to be healthy, they are things that will improve our health. The Danes are some of the happiest people in the world. They have a lot of experience in enduring cold and hard winters and being indoors for extended periods of time. And, I think they are on to something.

I'm creating a 7 day hygge challenge that you can take part in to look for joy and comfort in the little moments. I'll be sending it out to my mailing list when it is ready. It is a simple challenge where you bring a little hygge into your daily routine that will also help you create new healthy habits. You can sign up for my mailing list here.

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