We’ve all heard it numerous times from friends, family, salespeople, and most definitely Pinterest. Fall of 2016 saw a total Danish takeover of Hygge. But what is it? What does it mean? Why does it matter? To be honest, it may mean nothing to you at all, but for people in an artistic mindset, those suffering anxiety, depression, or just general overwork fatigue it can really mean a lot. Let’s talk turkey. What is hygge? Well, according to Wikipedia Hygge (/ˈhjuːɡə/ HEW-gə or /ˈhuːɡə/ HOO-gə) is a Danish and Norwegian word which can be described as a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being”. (However, I genuinely believe hygge can mean things other than this when you break it down into Danish culture.) Hygge House blog has an amazing description of hygge staying true to the Danish idea and meaning. (I highly recommend her post if you’d like to get a better feel for its true meaning.) So why does hygge matter and why does it mean anything to us toward the way we live and decorate our homes?

Long before I had a word for it, hygge living was a huge part of my life and my mental stability and clarity. When I first moved away from home, I knew that the decor would mean so much more than just decorating for me. It was my first time living away from home, and it was my first real full-time mentally draining job. Coming home was going to need to be a place of solace and clarity for my cluttered mind. At first, my family laughed about it and teased me for being so specific about my surroundings, but they quickly found out what it really meant for me. To be able to close your eyes, open your door, and let go of every stress you held onto throughout the day, is huge and makes such an impact on positive living. I knew that was going to be a big deal for me. So I began surrounding myself with only very special and very well curated furniture and accessories for my new little home. Overall, it genuinely did help my well-being and mental state knowing that no matter how bad my day was, I’d have something to come home to that calmed me. In this post, I hope to give you some tips for making your home hygge in the best of ways for mental sanity’s sake!

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Hygge can really depend on personal opinions, what you love and what makes you happy, so this list is mostly things I have found that calm me — although some of these items are scientifically proven to aid calmness. I’ll provide links for those–.

  • Color Theory:

Color theory is proven to play into mood more than you would expect! As an artist, I had a pretty good feel for how much color theory can impact moods and cravings, but I had no idea how deep it ran!  Blue is America’s favorite color. But who knew that the color blue, when painted on walls, was proven to contribute to better sleep habits, calm and soothing feelings, and possibly could even lower blood pressure! Now, as much as I love blue, I’m not a huge fan of painting my walls blue because it tends to limit decor. Instead, when we chose our paint colors for our new apartment, I chose greys that were all in the blue family. Brown and purple are both no-goes apparently and are more likely to cause feelings of dreariness ( but again, that could be personal preference).

  • Go crazy at the garden store for your health!

According to the Journal of Environmental Psychology plants help decrease your overall stress level. I always feel happier if I can bring a little nature inside with me! Plants are often expensive and hard to keep alive, but I would definitely say they are worth the splurge. I try to keep at least 3 plants in my home (or on my balcony) at all times. Not only can they help purify your indoor air quality, but also they can make you happier?! So why not invest a little in some house plants? As far as house plants go, I really love to keep ivy ( that need little to no sunlight ), and one tree type plant ( I recommend fiddle leaf figs, they are hearty and tend to adapt well to their surroundings). I love to keep fresh flowers around for a natural beauty aesthetic, but let’s be real, that gets crazy expensive. When I do buy fresh cut flowers — about once a month –, I like to get hydrangea because they can last a long time! I had one set of hydrangeas last me over a month! (Message me if you want the secrets to keeping them living long and strong!) I also really love dried plants!

  • Faux Fur

Somewhere, one time, I found an article talking about how faux fur accents are good for people with anxiety. I can’t seem to find that article now to credit it, but I definitely agree! I love the feeling of faux fur under my feet in the form of a rug, or on my back in a throw over a less comfy chair, or just in general it pleases my eye to see it. I currently have 3 faux fur accents in my home, and one real fur accent: I have a small IKEA throw over my less than attractive vintage chair, a large faux fur pillow from Target in the middle of my bed, a faux fur blanket that I love to snug in, and my really fluffy furry doggo for my real fur accent. I find myself subconsciously touching them or running my fingers through them when I’m deep in thought or feeling a little stressed about something (especially my dog Cibo, she takes the brunt of the finger run-throughs and snugs)

  • Limit the patterns in your surroundings

This one can be really hard. As an artist, I am naturally drawn to patterns and prints, but I have also found that when I buy them and bring them home they can cause me to feel cluttered and overwhelmed. When I purchase something that’s a loud print (Outside of clothing) it almost always goes back to the store. I mean, let’s be real, as hard working adults it is not realistic to think we can keep our homes completely uncluttered at all times, so why add something else that will make your space feel cluttered? I recommend, if you’ve just gotta have that print in your home don’t get it in a major item that will need to be replaced in a few years when that pattern goes out of style. Instead try to find the same pattern or one similar in small items such as pillows, small doorway rugs, mugs, or throw blankets that can be stored away when you are tired of the print.  

  • Let the music play!

Alexa, classical station please”. Or in my case, “Pandora, Rachmaninoff please”. I have three go to stations, one to make me feel calm, one to make me feel creative, and one to make me feel happy. Your tastes in music genres are most likely different from mine, so choose some that make you feel those types of things. Avoid that station that you listen to during breakups, and God forbid you are feeling early 2000nds and you slap on your favorite screamo band. Those are unlikely to make you feel calm, creative, or happy. But hey, to each his own. For me, I keep an inspiring classical Rachmaninoff station, a calming folk station featuring Ray Lamontagne, and a happy country hymns station, all of which have been carefully curated over the years to play only my favorites. I like to keep a radio station playing through my Roku all day long. I keep it on a low volume (say around 8% out of 100). It’s amazing how even at a quiet volume my mind hears all the songs without me even noticing; by the end of the day, I’ll most definitely have a song stuck in my head that I didn’t even remember I had listened to.

(P.S. I really love this song that’s playing in this photo, it’s Ron Pope’s “Sideways”. Always one of my faves)

  • All about mood lighting

There’s nothing better than opening all your windows and doors when the weather is fine! But being from Texas, I know that is definitely not always an option unless we happen to be in our one month of fall or one month of spring. Instead, when weather permits, I like to at least keep all my blinds open in our home to let in a little soft sunlight. I also got myself some cheap paper Chinese lanterns on Amazon (or I may have possibly borrowed them indefinitely from a friend) and got myself  “Natural daylight” bulbs — they offer gorgeous diffused light. I hung them up in two places in the apartment where I will see them most. At first, when we borrowed these for taking indoor photos, I thought it was going to annoy me having extra random pendant lights around the home, but after I found the perfect spot for them I have really enjoy that they add a soothing diffused light atmosphere (especially in the evenings!).

  • Soothing Scents

Anyone who knows me knows that I have am a candle hoarder. The smell of my home can completely change my mood! It is proven, for most people, that the scent of lavender can aid in both sleep and relaxation. For me, I love the smell of the forest, especially fir tree scents. I make sure to keep either fir tree essential oils for diffusing or fir tree candles on hand! This is such an easy and cheap tip to keep your home feeling not only fresh but also calm!

Bonus tip: GET A PET! Seriously though. Cibo is my ESA service pet. I got her to help me deal with my panic attacks and to help me through days when I am in serious pain. While she can’t magically make my anxiety or pain go away, but she really does make all the difference when I am feeling bad. Cibo has been the most wonderful help to me in hard times. She knows, before I even do when a panic attack is coming on and knows to snuggle. She knows, without me saying anything, when my pain is severe and places her soft wonderful head in my lap for comfort. Animals really are man’s best friend and they really do change your mood in so many ways! Plus, shelters are always full to the brim with loving animals who would give anything to adore you! Rescues are constantly seeking homes and fosters for sweet babies who had a hard life and just want someone to love. I highly recommend both SPIN and ChowChow Rescue (for their wonderful care and humane treatment) if you are seeking a furry best friend. And of course, don’t forget to check your local shelter for a little furry ball of joy who could change your life.

I hope these tips help you capture a more hygge happy home life!!