How to Embrace Winter the Hygge Way

Any other winter haters out there? I have lived in Minnesota for almost my entire life (and love it), so it may surprise you to know that I do not love winter. Embracing the winter lifestyle is something that I have had to work towards for many years.

You’ve probably heard about the Danish art of Hygge recently – it’s everywhere. Hygge (pronounced hue-guh) basically means creating a warm and cozy atmosphere, and enjoying the delights of each season with the people you love. While it can apply to any season, Hygge is especially well-known in the wintertime. There are a number of things I’ve done (or added to my to-do list!) to enjoy winter more, many of them inspired by Hygge.

Soft lighting for dark nights

When winter comes and the days get shorter, I find myself looking for all kinds of soft mood lighting in my house. You will see this tip in nearly every article you read on Hygge, and that’s because it works. If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace, I don’t have to tell you to get that thing going as often as you can. Other ideas: floor and table lamps, putting permanent light fixtures on dimmer switches, Himalayan salt lamps, and candles. Basically, you don’t want to be relying on your overhead lighting alone as it can be really harsh.

Cozy blankets and pillows

In Minnesota, our weather can vary dramatically. Summers can be over 90 degrees, and winters can get below zero. If your climate is similar, it can help to have two sets of throw pillows and blankets. Think light and airy for spring and summer, and then layer on cozy flannels, faux fur, fleece, or knitted wool for winter.

Rugs for hard floor surfaces

If you live somewhere with a cold climate, rugs for hard floor surfaces are a must. They’re especially important in areas where you want to relax, like your living room and bedroom. I like having something under my feet in the bathroom on cold mornings as well.

Bring the outdoors in

For days where it is just too miserable to go outside much, it is nice to have some “outdoor” type elements inside your home. I am basically an aspiring plant hoarder, and it helps so much to have some greenery inside, especially during the winter. Organic textures like wicker, natural fiber rugs, or woven fabrics also help to warm a place up.

Make a warm drink

It doesn’t take a genius to know that this is the time for a warm beverage. Coffee and tea are obvious choices, but you can also try hot cocoa, hot cider, mulled wine, or my new fave – golden milk.

Play feel good music

Everyone has that favorite music genre that makes them feel like they’re walking on air. Make a playlist that inspires you and play it often.

Brush up on your indoor hobbies

Watching netflix all winter long would get boring. So, brainstorm some good indoor hobbies to get into this winter. Read a good book, paint, knit, get an adult coloring book… you get the idea. Winter is the perfect time to tackle a creative project.

Don’t let the cold keep you from going outside

It’s hard for me to go out into the cold, but it does tend to get me out of any type of winter funk I’m in. Unless it’s truly terrible outside, it’s good to get out and enjoy something outdoors – ice skating, show shoeing, skiing, snowboarding, sledding, or just bundle up for a good walk.

Make comfort food

If you are into cooking, or want to learn, the winter is the perfect time to master a new recipe. I recently took an afternoon to make a biiiiiiiig pot of spicy gumbo, and it hit the spot on a cold night. Hot soups and chilis, curries, mac and cheese, risotto, a big bowl of pasta – you get the idea. Let something simmer all day and invite friends over for dinner.

Get some vitamin D

Research says that oh, pretty much all of us in the northern climate are vitamin d deficient. It’s probably wise to get your vitamin d levels checked, and supplement if necessary. Or, just try and get a little sun here and there! Bundle up and go outside, or sit by a sun lit window. There is a rooftop restaurant in Minneapolis with a retractable glass sunroof (those in Minneapolis will know which one I’m talking about). The food is meeeehhhh, BUT it is worth it for a little sunshine on a -20 degree January day. With a little luck maybe you can find a similar spot in your hood.

Dress for the weather

Your mom is right, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”. For years I did not dress well for the weather, running around my college town in a tank top in the middle of winter. When I finally upgraded my winter coat to a North Face jacket that actually covers my ass, it literally kept me from permanently fleeing the state to somewhere warm.

Warm winter clothes are worth the investment (whether buying new or spending time searching thrift stores and Facebook groups for used). This could be a whole post in and of itself, but build your winter arsenal with a warm coat, hat, gloves, and well-made boots. I also pretty much live in fleece-lined leggings and fleece tights in the winter months.

At the risk of stating the obvious, cozy lounge wear with thick socks or slippers will do wonders for your mood this time of year. 

Take care of your hair and skin

The cold air wreaks havoc on your hair and skin. It is helpful to use a thick conditioner, lotion, and lip balm in the winter months. A hot epsom salt or oatmeal bath is incredible for your skin and feels amazing – if you don’t have a tub you can do a cheater version by soaking your feet in a big bucket.

Stay active

It’s tempting to lounge and cuddle up on your couch all winter (especially if you’ve followed all the cozy tips above!), but if the winter is bumming you out, exercise is one of the easiest and cheapest things you can do to lift your mood.

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