Denmark is the happiest country on earth, despite the fact that their winters are pretty brutal, and the sun often goes down before 4pm throughout the season. While the icy temps from this polar vortex may be dampening your mood, you can use the Danish concept of hygge to battle any touch of seasonal affective disorder that is knocking at your door this winter. The term isn’t easily translatable, but it most closely links to the English words coziness, togetherness, and well-being. While these words might all refer to physical conditions, people living in Denmark say it is more of a mental condition that helps keep the Danes cushioned against the long winter’s frigidity, solitude, and stress.
The Danish describe hygge as the feeling you get at Christmastime of enjoying the holiday, the decorations, and being with family and friends, but they say it continues on past Christmas. It’s a way of consciously feeling grateful all year, and slowing down to make time for the things you enjoy. Hygge can be curling up with your favorite book under a blanket, or it can be gathering in a particular place with particular friends, and exhibiting kind, grateful behavior towards others. It’s actively inhabiting a positive, healthful mental state. The country’s tourism website suggests that the nation’s happiness is deeply tied to hygge, and while there is not hard data proving it, adopting this philosophy is worth a try when you’re feeling broken down by the cold, overstressed, or too busy.