Happiness & ‘hygge’
Happiness. ‘The inner state of positive emotions and feelings’. Sounds simple enough, but it’s a mentality that many find incredibly difficult to attain.
Of course, there’s no blueprint to being happy. And whilst we can’t determine an exact formula, we can analyse what others are doing right.
Denmark is frequently associated with high levels of happiness and cohesion. In fact, the country has ranked in the top three happiest countries in the world for seven consecutive years.
The 2018 World Happiness Report comparatively ranked Australia tenth in the global standings. While this evaluation is not entirely dire, it’s also an indicator that we probably have some room to improve. Currently, one in five Australians above the age of 16 experience mental illness, and almost half of all Australians will be diagnosed with some form of mental health condition in their lifetimes, according to the Black Dog Institute.
Significantly, two in three Young Carers suffer from mental illness. Caring roles are often associated with high levels of stress and low levels of self-care, and the rates of unemployment and school enrolment in this population speak for themselves. So, as a Young Carer, it’s incredibly important that taking care of yourself is still a priority.
Denmark arguably maintains their title in the world rankings thanks to a deeply valued cultural construct called ‘hygge’. Hygge is far more than simply a word to the Danes, it is a culture, a lifestyle and a benchmark for well-being. You simply have to step foot into the country and you’ll likely hear the word, see it on show, and most of all, feel its impact.
So, what is hygge? Pronounced ‘hoo-ga’, the word has no literal English translation. It’s an umbrella term referring to comfort, happiness, enjoyment, connection and peace. Any circumstance where you may feel a sense of contentment – that’s likely hygge.The principle draws us back to enjoying the simple things in life, and the idea that happiness cannot be bought. In fact, if you’ve ever indulged in hot chocolate on a rainy day, a Friday night in with takeaway and a movie, or a long sunset walk, you’ve experienced hygge.
The term has become so popular in the past years that it was added to the Oxford dictionary in 2017 and shortlisted as Word of the Year. “It’s sort of the fuzziness, the comfort and the sense of the lack of polish — but on purpose,” says Danish Energy Advisor Niels Malskær. Hygge is a noun, but if you’d like to use the term to describe something, you’d say ‘hyggelige’.
The rise of mental health problems can be attributed to the enhanced prevalence of electronic and social media in recent times, as well as an increase in cost of living and other social pressures. The most common age to experience mental illness in Australia, found by the Australian Department of Mental Health, is 16-24.
Nowadays 91% of young people are connected to social media in some way, whilst rates of depression and anxiety in youths has increased by 70% over the previous 25 years (Deakin University). If this isn’t an omen for us all to consciously switch off every now and then, nothing will be.Taking inspiration from this defining quality of Danish culture, we’ve compiled a list of some ‘hyggelige’ activities that you can use to inspire your own mental wellbeing:
- Disconnect from social media for 24 hours
- Go on a walk with your favourite music
- Light some scented candles
- Bake a cake
- Stay in your pyjamas all day
- Play board games
- Make a pillow fort
- Watch a movie with your favourite comfort food
- Go for a bike ride
- Read a book
- Sleep in
So, next time you’re feeling tired, stressed or overwhelmed, try spending an hour indulging in the art of hygge. The Danes may just be onto something.