Why “hygge” is so important and helps reduces stress

The Danish word “hygge” is a big part of why Denmark has been voted as one of the happiest countries in the world for over 40 years in a row.

Being in a social group is a very big part of being Danish. Danes like to find ways to work together and support each other in social groups.

The word “hygge” (pronounced hooga) dates back to the 19th century. It is derived from the Germanic word “hyggja”, which means to think or feel satisfied. Because Danes see “hygge” as a way of life, we all try to make it happen. That is, a cozy time together with family and friends. Feeling connected to others gives meaning and purpose to all of our lives and this is why Danes value hygge so highly. The individual is prized absolutely but without the interaction and support of others we don’t think we can be truly happy as a whole person.

The happiness level of the Danes isn´t the only proof of the effectiveness of togetherness and “hyggelige” ties. A lot of research backs this up. A research group in Chicago studied this effect and confirmed it. Social support does help manage stress. If we know we have people we can talk to or turn to for help in difficult times, we are more ready to face life´s challenges without breaking down. We are more resilient. Being vulnerable with someone means a huge distribution of the stress we carry, helping to get it off our backs.

The Danish Way of Parenting maintains that we should all focus more on social ties, togetherness and sharing all kinds of moments together. We cannot ignore the high stress level any more, and sometimes the answer is just in front of you. Daring to be more honest and vulnerable often leads to great response in others, as it can be recognized emotionally - and in this emotional resonance you create closer ties.

The Danish tips on how to get started:

1.     Confide and share

When you are down or in a difficult moment, confide and share with your good friends and loved ones you trust. Remember, this reduces stress and helps you get over it faster.

2.     Practice empathy

Be vulnerable. Be compassionate. Be empathetic. This will help all of your social ties and interactions. Practicing empathy will be the single biggest factor in helping you reframe.

3.     Team building

Organize more team-building activities for you and your children to encourage working together. Make scavenger hunts, build something, organize a tournament. Be creative.

4.     Hygge is not about size

Remember that “hygge” can be done with one or two people. It´s about sharing and feeling connected. Belonging to a community!

I wish you a wonderful hygge-moment!

Iben Sandahl is the bestselling author of The Danish Way Of Parenting: A Guide To Raising The Happiest Kids in the World. She is a professional parenting expert, narrative psychotherapist MPF, family counselor, teacher and speaker. She has more than 20 years of experienced insight into child psychology and education, which in a most natural way anchor the Danish way of practicing parenthood. You can follow Iben’s Facebook page or Instagram for more inspiration about parenting.