I’ve written before about hygge. Pronounced “hooga”, this is a Danish concept (how I ache to be Scandi Cool) of cosiness, well-being, being around loved ones, and taking care of yourself – in a non-guilty, indulgent sort of way.
It’s mostly synonymous with Christmas, but checking out Instagram I see hundreds of posts that celebrate Summer Hygge. Sunshine, beaches, water, smiles. Well-being. Peace. A sense of self.
I’m currently emerging from a period of black dog. I’m not ashamed to admit that. I’m trying all the recommended treatment – fresh air, exercise, sleep, medication, therapy. The biggest lesson I’ve learnt, and the hardest medicine to swallow, has been that of self care.
In the UK, we are absolutely rubbish at self care, and at hygge. The CIPD reckons that although our hours of overtime have decreased in recent years, the average full-time working week here is 39.1 hours.
Meanwhile, our Danish friends average 33 hours a week. Standard hours are 8am to 4pm. Presenteeism apparently does not exist. By 4.30pm, workers are at home with their family.
My mission in the coming weeks is to embrace hygge. I’m off to a good start, I feel. This week I hit the beach after work on Monday, and took myself out for dinner. I enjoyed my pole fitness class on Tuesday.
On Thursday, I celebrated the start of the school holidays with a teatime picnic with a gaggle of parents and friends. On Saturday, I spent most of the day at the beach, my daughters tumbling down sand dunes and chasing each other in a freshwater stream.
This morning, I sorted my desk in a new-found home workspace. I helped a friend DIY in her new studio. I treated myself to posh pizza takeaway, and enjoyed every crumb.
I needed this. I crave this. The standard position, I feel, in the UK is to feel guilt and shame for indulging yourself.
Let’s not do this to ourselves anymore. Let’s hygge.