Home » Living Hygge

Living Hygge

San Francisco Hygge House

If I had to give hygge a true translation, I’d probably call it “leisurely charm”, meaning, it’s a moment when things are slow and at your leisure. You’re in no rush to go anywhere and better yet, you don’t feel a rush to be anywhere. There’s a sweetness, a cosiness, to what you’re doing and you just feel…. content. Whether it’s laughing with friends on a beach or drinking tea alone in the morning.

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt hygge on the norm. It’s one of the huge reasons why my posts here are so few and far between. I feel if I am not living the life, I have no right to preach it. I don’t want to write about a pretend world. I’d much rather be living a real one.

But somewhere along the way I got out of step with being hygge at home. This was due to my work (70-80 hours a week were the norm), travelling a lot, moving a lot, pure exhaustion and frankly just not being present.

Despite living in cold San Francisco California for a year, I think I made tea only a handful of times and the scene above was because I had a friend in town. My whole “coffee as a verb” concept was blown. Everything was fast, everything was chaotic, everything was dull. There was no charm, there was no content, there was no hygge.

After realising that life for me had just become go, go, go, I took a day off to just be. I’d planned to spend the entire day at home; reading, writing, gardening, tea, a nap.

These were all great ideas but the reality? I was antsy. I wanted to go out. I couldn’t focus on an activity. Instead of feeling relaxed and cosy at home – my dream home I might add where gardening is aplenty, quiet is all around, home projects I want to do are totally available – all I could think to do was to still go, go, go.

I had my moment of truth: I had lost my ability to stand still. I’d lost my ability to relax. I couldn’t get my mind to chill. I couldn’t take in the view from my yard. I couldn’t just sit with a cup of tea and a candle. I couldn’t be content despite having created the exact lifestyle and home I wanted.

I had become so used to doing, going, working, that my brain couldn’t be still. I couldn’t be still. My insomnia is at an all time high – manageable when you’re younger but totally destructive, exhausting and frankly depressing now. I needed to relax, I needed to chill, I needed to nap and yet, I couldn’t do any of it. The girl who could nap so easily, that was always the most relaxed one, that always had time for tea or a book or friends. Where was she?

I realise that I can’t just change back overnight but I have to work on that balance of doing and being. Of being content and not filling time up with things to do or feeling like time’s running out. So it’s small steps for now.

So my first small step was returning to a daily habit that always had me feeling content; lighting a candle every morning with tea and every evening with a meal – something I learned from my mum who still does this every day. And also returning to making tea – picking out a favourite, brewing it just so, the act of slow drinking whilst catching up on blogs. A moment of calm in the morning before taking the dog out and then working through a day of meetings and emails. A simple ritual of being present every morning and being content with this whether it’s 10 minutes or 30. It’s a slow return back to feeling hygge. Something I couldn’t get any other way than by doing and acknowledging the act.

Hygge really is a concept that involves an activity or recognizing a moment or how you feel. I think that’s why I’ve been really critical lately of all the new Twitter handles with “hygge” in it that are pushing products or selling services. You can’t buy hygge. Trust me, if you could I’ve be hygged out and never lost my way!

But hygge requires consciousness, a certain slowness, and the ability to not just be present – but enjoy the present. That’s why so many people distill ‘hygge’ down to being a ‘feeling’ – because if you don’t feel hygge, you probably aren’t using the word right.

And I haven’t felt it for a long time but that’s changing. Partly because I’m working on being mindful and actually slowing myself down and partly because it’s autumn and the fall/winter are the perfect seasons for hygge. I literally can’t wait for December this year. That month was just made for hygge and this year, I hope to not only share how but also just really feel it through and through. One cup of tea at a time.




  1. October 29, 2016 / 11:43 PM

    Ooooh I really like how you described it as leisurely charm. I too am in constant pursuit of hygge, and when I have it, I try with all my might to enjoy it and to make it linger. For me, my daily afternoon tea is instant hygge, as well as the candles I burn as soon as I come home from work. Although the candles I buy, the moment of burning them when I come home, having the comforting scents reset my mind from “work” mode to “home” mode, that’s the part that is hygge. xo

  2. November 1, 2016 / 8:39 AM

    You have my sympathy. It’s hard to hygge when your brain is screaming go!!! And I appreciate how irksome it is to see a word you love and cherish being used as just another advertising gimmick on Twitter and the internet. I think hygge is there if you can find the time to slow down. I love your morning/evening rituals. These little rituals ground us and give us pause. I wish you were closer, I could ask you for a cup of tea. I’d love to share a spiced orange with you and just chat. I’m finding the space to hygge more now I’m older. Perhaps I just recognise that time, for me, is beginning to be finite; I have lived longer than I shall live in the future. I can’t afford to fritter it away anymore, so every day needs to be savoured. Breathe. Slow down, enjoy your tea.
    If you would honour us, join the Hygge Nook on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheHyggeNook/ It’s a truly multi-national group wanting to find and live hygge. We’d love to have you.

  3. November 30, 2016 / 9:21 PM

    Thank you for your lovely description of hygge, it is exactly what I am trying to achieve. I have been using mindfulness techniques and sensory modulation and they have a lot of similar elements to them. I have been using Pinterest to put together ideas for myself to achieve hygge in the Summertime. It is Summer at the moment in New Zealand where I live. My blogging definitely helps too. Hugs Rose x

  4. December 1, 2016 / 12:52 PM

    I lit a candle immediately once I stumbled across your blog today. Im only a quarter Danish, but I have been trying to find some connections to some kind of heritage as an American. I love the idea of being still, connecting to a feeling of being content in a small moment. And bringing the warmth and joy of Hygge living into my life and my home. This is what I was looking for.

    • December 2, 2016 / 10:16 AM

      A candle is the best + easiest way to go πŸ™‚ I recently looked at my Hygge Board on Pinterest to see what was the common theme I was pinning and, it was the candle. πŸ™‚

  5. DebraNo Gravatar
    December 9, 2016 / 3:05 PM

    I have been trying to live this way for more than a decade. Not always successful, I am still trying to find a consistent “sweet spot “. Your article reminded me of the simple things that I can do whenever I need calm and peace in my life. By the way, I was unaware of a name for this life choice until this time last year. Thank you for your blog.

  6. January 14, 2017 / 9:54 PM

    Thank you for that little narrative. I agree that the constant drive of life can change us. The mobile and digital age could be part of our problem. So I always take micro vacations. Forty eight hours of dedicated time spent with no connection to my devices. Sometimes, I take a long train ride…Seattle to SF. Or enjoy a weekend hiking and staying in a yurt. It’s the best thing, to disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with life.

  7. JayneNo Gravatar
    February 1, 2017 / 8:42 PM

    Thank you so much for this description of hygge. In your narrative you have described me to a T and I know I must slow down and be in the present rather than worrying or rushing on to the next thing. Thank you x

    • March 5, 2017 / 2:54 PM

      Thank you Jayne – appreciate you taking the time to leave me a note πŸ™‚

  8. February 4, 2017 / 2:22 PM

    I just discovered the concept of hygge. I’d kinda had it in my head already. I love pictures of cosy places and cosy things. I love having candles lit and listening to some smooth jazz playing in the background. I love the feeling of things when the sun has set and darkness creeps in. The candles soften everything and their scents are soothing.

    I suffer from very bad anxiety. I decided last night that I can use the concept of hygge in order to calm myself. Last night I lit a double wick lavender scented candle and read a book before going to sleep. My room smelled lovely with the scent of lavender. My fish were swimming around in their tank. And since my bedroom is in the back of our flat, the noise from the living room is almost silenced. I just felt cosy and distracted from my anxiety.

    It was hard for me to calm my brain enough to concentrate on the story I was reading, but that’s just my mind is overthinking mode. But the setting in my room helped some. It was just a matter of trying to relax and focus. One small step at a time.

    • March 5, 2017 / 2:53 PM

      As someone with a brain that never seems to stop, I can totally relate to this. And the key really is one step at a time. I think hygge can help with anxiety in the sense when your brain is going, going, going, if you can stop for a sec and just recognize a good moment (IE I’m loving this conversation with my friend, noticing the light at the end of the day, enjoying the process of brewing tea, noticing the taste of really good chocolate, etc.) then your brain can take a little break from the anxiety. Being present – being aware of something good in the moment – is a really good anxiety disrupter. And that can be done in little steps.

      I love how you described your moment – scent, happy fish + quiet. Recognizing that, letting your brain just sink that in, that’s huge! And I wish you a lot more of those hygge moments πŸ™‚

  9. February 6, 2017 / 8:02 AM

    Your blog has that cosy feeling. I came here actually to get a definition of hygge as it happens, and yours definitely was the best!

  10. Sylvia YoungNo Gravatar
    March 3, 2017 / 11:43 AM

    Thank you for this nuanced, lovely entry into your journey. The Danish word is new to me but not the experience, often fleeting but always right there if I get out of my own way for a bit! Living in the Maine woods, the winter is always welcome for the need to just ahhhhhhh.
    Sylvia young

  11. Sylvia YoungNo Gravatar
    March 3, 2017 / 11:44 AM

    Thank you for this nuanced, lovely entry into your journey. The Danish word is new to me but not the experience, often fleeting but always right there if I get out of my own way for a bit! Living in the Maine woods, the winter is always welcome for the need to just ahhhhhhh.
    Sylvia young

    • March 5, 2017 / 2:49 PM

      I feel like the woods in Main in Winter is just screaming for a lot of hygge moments. πŸ™‚

  12. marion steeleNo Gravatar
    October 13, 2017 / 6:46 AM

    i now know a word to describe my goal and the way i live my life its Hygge , ive always been naturally this way since i can remember but never knew it was a thing , ive always liked to have a cosy lifestyle and surroundings , ive always lit candles and craved quiet and comfort i love special homecooked meals and want every meal to feel special i love cosy movie nights wrapped up with comfort food , i was brought up this way and others have sometimes not understood , now i know what to call it lol x

  13. December 22, 2017 / 3:09 PM

    This post reached my eyes at exactly the right time. I’ve been feeling so much the same lately. I love the idea of returning to a couple simple habits. For me, it will have to be my before-bed tea.And appreciating the lit-up Christmas tree before it’s taken down.

  14. ANo Gravatar
    July 12, 2018 / 4:34 AM

    Its a great post Alex. Reading your post stirred a lot of emotions for me personally. I have been feeling very lost lately n your post reminded me of all the moments when I have actually had my own Hygge!!N I need to find it again!!

  15. LinNo Gravatar
    October 31, 2019 / 6:39 PM

    I want to live Hygge so badly my teeth ache. But sweating from a sinusitis induced fever makes warm and cozy pure torture! I want to run naked in the cold night, not bake in front of a ðŸ”Β₯. Alas, insomnia, aching eyes and inability to breathe? Anti-hygge, I’m afraid.

  16. BeccaJoyNo Gravatar
    September 20, 2020 / 1:21 AM

    I started on Pintrest looking up Christmas decor, which led to a blog that took me to a Hygge Facebook group which sent me here. I’ve struggled for years with sitting still, being present, stressing over having things just so because I might be judged for not having xyz done etc. You get the idea. So this article really hit me in my core, pretty sure my guardian Angel set me up to find your blog. I am not really sure how to make life calm enough for me to find my Hygge. My to do list is so long, my energy is short, and I work so much. So for now, it’s making the time to sit and read your blog posts.

    Thank you. I needed this article very much.

    • alex at hygge houseNo Gravatar
      September 24, 2020 / 11:09 AM

      Hi BeccaJoy,

      I totally, totally hear and relate to what you said. There have been years where I was in this pattern too and I struggled with finding quiet moments, and even being able to find one moment that felt hygge. How I got myself back on track was to not try to overhaul everything – my work life would stay busy, I struggle with energy, there’s always a lot going on – so instead I just found moments that I could recognize and satisfy. For me, that’s the morning when it’s super quiet, I have a coffee in bed with the dog hanging out. That’s hygge. Or sometimes just lighting a candle, watching it for 30 seconds and just feeling happy for that, that’s hygge. Or laughing so hard with a girlfriend when we go for our walks on the beach.

      So looking for moments, and being happy for them, sometimes that’s all you can do but that’s all you need.

      wishing you some quiet, peaceful, hygge moments.