Research finds Brits are adopting the Scandinavian ‘hygge’ lifestyle to overcome winter blues

New research suggests that many people are dreading the winter months after a difficult year and are looking to new forms of self-care as a result.

The survey of 2,000 Brits conducted by One Pol found that more than half of those polled admitted to needing comfort more than ever this year, with 67% feeling this year has been mentally tough.

The study also found that more than half (53%) of those polled went as far as to say they were dreading the winter months this year, with four in 10 Brits surveyed saying they have embraced the Danish concept of ‘hygge’ as a way to combat this.

Hygge, pronounced “hoo-ga,”, is a Danish concept that encompasses a feeling of cozy contentment and well-being through enjoying the simple things in life.

Paulina Gorska, Marketing Manager at Schulstad Bakery Solutions, who commissioned the research, said: “This year has been one of the hardest many of us have ever faced.

“And in a time of turmoil and uncertainly, we turn to comfort and want to spend time doing things which leave us feeling content, happy and able to forget about the real world for a little bit.

“Whether that is speaking to loved ones, reading a book or simply taking a few moments in the morning to unwind and enjoy a coffee and Danish pastry, it’s important to find something which leaves you feeling cosy and content to help your wellbeing.

“Sometimes it’s the little things in life which can make the most difference to how you feel.”

Many of those polled said they feel most content when spending time with loved ones, having a cup of tea and sleeping.

Others feel content when laughing (32%), having a clean and tidy house (22%)  and spending time with furry friends (19%). Tucking into baked goods (18%), having dinner cooking in the oven (20%) and simply finishing work on time (7%) also feature in the top 50 list.

Brits feel most content when spending time with loved ones, having a cup of tea and sleeping, a study has found.

Miriam Akhtar, Psychologist and author of The Little Book of Happiness, said: “This survey reflects what we have seen over the course of the pandemic. When stress levels rise, people’s need for a sense of peace grows and we return to the simple, meaningful activities of life like hanging out with loved ones or engaging in absorbing hobbies and crafts.

“Hygge is a joyful state of mind when you feel at your most relaxed which more people should look to incorporate in their lives. To do hygge you need to feel completely at ease, either alone or in the company of loved ones. It clearly works as the Danes frequently top the league table of the happiest nations.”


10 small ways to hygge according to happiness expert, Miriam Akhtar:

  1. Create a hygge home. Comfy sofas, log fire, woodburner, low lighting, candles, cosy blankets. Listen to great music. Mull some wine. Scent your environment with nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, pine.
  2. Dress hygge.  Comfortable loose-fitting clothes, fleeces, onesies, thick woollen socks, sheepskin slippers and boots. Repurpose your apres-ski wear for lounging around. 
  3. Cook hygge with food and drink that warm you up – hot chocolate, warm Danish pastry, soups, casseroles, roasts, curries. Eat seasonably with winter veg. 
  4. Do hygge. Engage with simple, pleasurable activities like those long-neglected hobbies. Read a book rather than surf online. This year has seen a resurgence of craft activities – baking, sewing, knitting. Jigsaw puzzles. Activities like these put you into flow aka ‘in the zone’, a delicious state where you’re fully absorbed in what you’re doing. 
  5. Family hygge. Spend time with your loved ones, hanging out and chatting, playing games, walking in the forest or on the beach. The biggest source of wellbeing is our relationships with other people. 
  6. Friday night hygge. Instead of a Friday night on the town, Danes will often start the weekend by snuggling on the sofa to watch a film with their loved ones, accompanied by snacks. Think Gogglebox. 
  7. Take an evening walk to admire the Christmas lights and enjoy the feeling of peace on the quiet streets. Get together with neighbours to arrange festive window displays. Get your road to do an advent calendar. 
  8. While you’re on the sofa watch a classic movie like It’s a Wonderful Life or one of the Disney films. 
  9. Go to bed early with a good book or magazine. Sleep in. Linger in bed in the morning. 
  10. Do nothing! Relax and let your mind wander.  Enjoy the freedom to be a human being rather than a ‘human doing’.

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