Establishing Hygge Atmospheres At Home and Work

By Kaylin R. Staten

Everyone wants to find the Holy Grail of Happiness. Whether you’re in an early winter slump at work or can’t find the motivation to clean up leftover holidays messes at home, your overall happiness could be the answer staring you right in the face.

It comes in the form of hygge, pronounced (hoo-ga), a Danish custom of relaxation. It focuses on sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. You want to focus on experiences at the present moment, rather than fixate on things in the past and future (unless you’re drumming up some nostalgia, which is incredibly hygge-like).

I kept seeing “hygge” pop up in Well+Good and Brit+Co articles, and as an avid consumer of all things comfort, I wanted to learn more about living that hygge life. So, I purchased The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking during a Google Play Book sale binge.

According to Wiking, the idea and practice of hygge is about creating an aura of safety, in addition to relishing in your five senses. You want to smell the bread you are baking, touch a smooth tapestry, hear raindrops hitting your bedroom window, look around and see the wilderness indoors, and ultimately, taste test the bread and other items you are baking.

Ultimately, hygge can be summed up as what you do to relax. Americans need all the relaxation tips we can get, since we tend to be workaholics. After first traveling to Europe in 2012, I decided to slowly incorporate relaxation at work and home. After all, they take long lunch breaks and close completely down for holidays, much to the chagrin of unsuspecting Americans. But, I loved the aura of work and then relaxation and then picking up work again.

Hygge in the Home

After reading Wiking’s book about everything hygge, I realized that I love that lifestyle and everything it encompasses. While most people may associate hygge with the holiday season, Danes utilize their hygge tactics year-round. As stresses pile up around me, it’s important to sometimes step away and enjoy the more simple things in life.

This is what makes my home more comfortable and hygge-like on an everyday basis:

  1. Vintage items. The Danes love adding vintage elements to their hygge celebrations. Since I was a child, I’ve loved vintage everything. I was the kid who carried around her toys in her mom’s ripped Louis Vuitton bag. I stylishly repurposed. I use vintage items throughout my 1940s-era home, including a replica Kit-Kat clock, an end table I found for cheap at a Habit for Humanity Restore (and my dad restored) and

  2. Bath bombs and taking baths. I’ve been really into taking baths for the past couple of years. We have a really awesome and deep bathtub, which is perfect for relaxing with a good book on my iPad or binge watching random videos on YouTube about some of my favorite topics. I love using bath bombs and bath salts to add a sensory component.

  3. Comfortable clothing. I’m at my coziest in a pair of Walmart leggings and a baggy T-shirt, preferably one of my husband’s graphic tees. It doesn’t take much for me to be happy with regards to comfy clothing. I have two favorite pairs of slippers and countless pairs of fuzzy socks. I take hygge with me when I wear my fuzzy socks out in public (my husband *loves* this.)

  4. A cool temperature. I cannot be comfortable in a hothouse. I like to keep the house at a cool temperature year-round. And I must sleep with the ceiling fan on high. No exceptions. *hot-natured people woes.*

  5. Candles. You cannot be truly hygge-like unless you have candles burning. Danes love their candles, and so do I. I’m very seasonal with my candles. You can’t have spring scents in winter, and so on. Some of the most soothing scents are coconut and lavender.

  6. Photos. I have photos all over the house. I use photos to decorate and commemorate moments in time, from family events and milestones to places I’ve traveled.

  7. Items from loved ones long gone. I’m one of the most sentimental people I know, and that means I keep items from loved ones all around my home. My husband and I use my Granny’s old Corelle dishes on regular basis, and I keep all important dishes and our wedding memorabilia in one of my Granny’s china cabinets. Being surrounded by items from loved ones who have passed away gives me comfort.

  8. Cooking. There is a reason why certain foods are considered “comfort foods.” We associate relaxing with eating some of our favorite -- and often unhealthy -- foods. I love to cook and eat. Creating themed dishes is one of my favorite pastimes, whether it’s for a holiday or a special event.

  9. Spending time with loved ones. You can enjoy a hygge-like experience alone or with a small group. Perfect for natural introverts like me! There’s nothing like spending time with my husband and our cats at home doing whatever we feel like doing.

  10. Coffee, rainy weather and writing. This is my favorite combination of all time.

Hygge at Work

Most of us spending 40+ of our waking hours at work, so it’s vital to make it comfortable and seem like your home away from home. I have the luxury of having a home office, so I’m able to incorporate hygge in multiple ways at my own discretion; however, if you work in an office, travel a lot for work or have another work arrangement, you can also add hygge to your basic work repertoire. Tailor your home tastes in your work environment to bring a little comfort on even the most stressful of days.

This is my basic toolkit for a hygge-inspired office:

  1. At least one succulent plant. Get a plant that needs limited water and sunshine, unless you have a window in your office. My office at United Way had a huge window, which I used to pile cacti, miniature palm trees and other plants on the windowsill. It brings a little bit of the outdoors inside.

  2. Photos of people, places and things you love. I love sprinkling bits of my life around my office, from photos of me and my husband to places I’ve photographed. My one rule is that I use only my photos from my trips, which helps motivate me as well as allow me to take trips down memory lane when I need a daydream break.

  3. Your favorite coffee cup. Bring a coffee cup from home to help you relax while at work, whether it’s your favorite ceramic cat mug or a travel mug that expresses your personality.

  4. Something you can mess around with while on phone calls. For me, this is hourglasses, snowglobes and glitter water frames. (Anything with glitter is a hygge must for me.)

  5. A blanket. It may seem silly, but keeping a blanket in your office drawer or closet and getting it out when you need it is a good way to remain relaxed during the work day. Plus, if you get chilly, you have an excuse to get underneath your favorite fleece blanket or quilt. I always keep one close if I’m not the one to control the temperature in the office.

  6. Music. I have playlists for everything, depending on my mood. Music allows me to get in a hygge-like, relaxed state if I’m working on something monotonous or under a strict deadline. I could listen to cafe-esque music, but I’ll most likely be listening to something upbeat.

  7. Cats. This may not work for everyone, but having a pet at the office is instant gratification. You can measure happiness in pets and love winks. Since I work at home, my two cat children, Ilia and Meera, are never too far away from me. They add humor to my work days.

Which hygge elements do you use for your home and office spaces? Here’s a glimpse into the last few months of my hygge life.

Copyright © MMXVIII Hourglass Media, LLC

Kaylin R. Staten, APR is an award-winning public relations practitioner and writer. She owns Hourglass Media, a consulting company based in Huntington, WV. 

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