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Hygga: Winter wellness inspiration

Have you heard of the Danish concept of hygge?Pronounced “hoo-ga,” the concept is derived from a Norwegian word that means “well-being.” While it resists a single, clear definition, hygge is often summed up as a feeling of coziness, connection, and contentment. Warmth, comfort, and pleasure are all key aspects.

Hygge can be experienced while spending time at home with family and friends, enjoying an invigorating walk outdoors, or curling up with a book, blanket, and tea. Danes list hot drinks, candles, and fireplaces as the top three items they associate with the idea. Hygge may be one reason why the Danish are considered among the happiest people in the world.

A famous Danish quote reads that “there is no such thing as bad weather—only bad clothing.” In Denmark as well as Finland, Sweden, and Norway, emphasis is placed on the importance of engaging in outdoor exercise even in winter, to reap the mental and physical benefits.   

Over the past few years, I’ve enjoyed incorporating hygge into my own life, and have reaped the benefits of greater mindfulness and stress relief. My school-age daughter calls reading around the fireplace “hygge time” and looks forward to it. Hygge has also inspired me to get out and take winter walks, even though it means many layers of clothes plus traction cleats on my tennis shoes!

A few good books on the topic include How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life by Signe Johansen, and The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking. American Cozy: Hygge-Inspired Ways to Create Comfort and Happiness by Stephanie Pedersen is another enjoyable read, filled with practical tips and inspiration. Find these titles and more at cadl.org/catalog.

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Cheryl Lindemann is responsible for the purchase of adult non-fiction books, DVD/Blu-rays and music for Capital Area District Libraries. A librarian for 20 years, she lives in East Lansing with her husband Dale and her seven-year-old daughter Mia. Cheryl enjoys spending time with her family as well as reading, walking, gardening and visiting her horse, Dala.

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