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How to Use a Journal to Infuse Your Life with Hygge

by Jacki Andre December 12, 2018

How to Use a Journal to Infuse Your Life with Hygge

Dear Sparkly Unicorn Friends:

Brace yourselves. Winter is coming.

We all know that winter technically starts at the winter solstice. I don’t know where you live, but I live in the Great White North. Saskatchewan, to be exact. We usually get snow right around Hallowe’en. Sometimes it sticks; sometimes not. Either way, it signals the end of fall. Strongly. Waiting for December 21 to call it winter? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Still, with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season just gearing up and the whole “White Christmas” fantasy, winter doesn’t seem too bad in those early days. But come January, it can be tough to deal with. Between the cold, short days and the holiday blues, winter can kind of knock the stuffing out of you.

That’s when the Danish concept of hygge can be your magic wand, bringing sparkle back into your life.

What Exactly IS Hygge?

Hygge (pronounced hue-guh) is a way of life. (Other Scandinavian countries have similar lifestyle customs that go by other names.) The concept of hygge isn’t restricted to the winter months. It can be practiced year round. But it’s particularly helpful in combating the country’s harsh winter weather and short days.

In the depths of winter, Denmark only gets seven hours of sunlight a day. That could have an adverse effect on the mental health of Danes since a lack of sunlight can contribute to Seasonal Affective Disorder. And yet, Denmark is consistently ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world. Hygge has a lot to do with that.

At her Hygge House blog, Alex explains that hygge was created as a way to survive the “boredom, cold, dark and sameness” of the winter months. Hygge is about acknowledging “a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cosy, charming or special.” Mindfulness is key to hygge, with an emphasis on not just being present but on finding joy in the moment. Alex goes on to explain that:

Another definition of hygge is “an art of creating intimacy” (either with yourself, friends and your home). While there’s no one English word or simple definition to describe hygge, several can be used interchangeably to describe the idea of hygge such as cosiness, charm, happiness, ‘contentness’, security, familiarity, comfort, reassurance, kinship, and simpleness.

How Do You Hygge?

Hygge is about making the ordinary special, by practicing mindfulness and by ritualizing everyday activities. It’s also about creating a feeling of coziness, by restricting the amount of empty space around a person or group of people. The end result is a feeling of contentedness.

You can create and experience hygge by doing things like:

  • Making a cup of cocoa from scratch and enjoying that steaming up of creaminess while doing nothing else.
  • Creating a reading nook lined with cozy throws and plush pillows - and using it to read actual books (not your phone!).
  • Using candles for lighting, to create the feeling of a smaller, cozier space.
  • Lighting a fire for the same lighting effect and for warmth.
  • Getting together with friends at each other’s homes to share home cooked meals and play board games.
  • Curling up with a pet.
  • Celebrating the outdoors, by actually getting outside and enjoying the crisp winter air or by bringing outdoor elements (plants, natural wood) indoors.

And, of course, since this is a blog for Sohospark, you knew this one was coming too: writing in a personal journal is an excellent way to experience hygge.

Journaling and Hygge

When you think about it, journaling is all about hygge.

Mindfulness

When you write in a lined journal, you’re naturally mindful of the moment, highly attuned to your thoughts and feelings as you jot them down. But, as I explained in this blog, you can increase your mindfulness by:

  • Practicing stream of consciousness writing;
  • Writing yourself a letter, where you let go of any judgment towards yourself and instead shape the letter as if you were writing to a dear friend; or
  • Using writing journal to record moments of gratitude.

Gratitude

Hygge is about gratitude -- being grateful for the moment and finding joy in it. By keeping a writing journal where you recall and reflect on what made you grateful, you become more mindful of those moments when they happen.

Ritualization and Coziness

If you don’t already have rituals, including writing in a cozy space, doing so can increase your feeling of hygge. For example, writing first thing in the morning, with a fresh cup of coffee, while you wait for the rest of the house to wake up is hygge. Writing in the evening, with lit candles and a glass of wine, is also hygge. Using the same pen(s) each time, lighting a candle before beginning, meditating briefly, or listening to music while you write, are all ways to ritualize your journaling. Wearing fuzzy socks or slippers, keeping the lighting low, and having a fire burning can increase your feelings of coziness too.

But, don’t forget: hygge is also being around people. If you prefer to journal in a coffee shop, that’s also hygge. Enjoying the outdoors on your way to the cafe, sitting in the same spot each time, pausing while writing to consciously enjoy your steaming beverage, are all part of hygge.

Bullet Journals and Hygge

Megan at Page Flutter uses her bullet journal as a place to brainstorm how to infuse her life with hygge. She points out that her hygge spread isn’t actually a checklist so much as “a good jumping off point when those winter blues hit.” And since journaling is hygge, just the act of making the spread contributed to her feelings of joy and contentment.

What About You?

What do you do to infuse your life with hygge? Do you ritualize your journal writing? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this blog. Drop me a comment below.

 Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

Jacki Andre
Jacki Andre

Jacki Andre has been journaling for over 30 years and still has her jam-packed Judy Blume Diary to prove it. Somewhere along the way, she started writing for reals, and is now a published author and Huffington Post blogger. In her spare time, Jacki supports dog rescue, advocates for disability rights, and educates other drivers via hand gestures about the importance of using turn signals. She keeps in shape by chasing joy (and her ‘80s teen idols) in earnest.


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