Banish those winter blues and embrace the hygge lifestyle

The cold weather and dark nights can leave you feeling down, irritable, or tired.

But why not take a leaf out of the Danes’ book ­– many say the fact Denmark is officially the world’s happiest country, according to the 2016 World Happiness Report, is down to the ‘hygge’ lifestyle.

Hygge is the Danish concept of living simply. Whether you’re looking to boost your overall well-being, or want to change your mind-set to enjoy those simple pleasures, hygge, pronounced “hue-gah” is a lifestyle trend that the Scandinavians swear by.

We talk to nutritionist Cassandra Barns about making five simple changes to adapt to the hygge lifestyle.

1. Eat comfort foods

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Yes – we said it. Hygge is all about comfort, so what could be better than a big warm bowl of porridge, topped with your favourite berries? “Porridge is not only warming and comforting: it’s also a good source of slow-releasing energy,” says Cassandra. “Porridge oats are high in fibre and support healthy digestion. What’s more, the beta glucan fibre in oats help keep cholesterol in check. It’s the perfect wholesome comfort food.”

2. Get outdoors

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Fresh air and long walks are always encouraged if you want to be healthy. They are really important to the Danes, and key to keeping fit and youthful. Like them, embrace the outside world and wrap up warm in your favourite coat, hat, scarf and gloves!

3. Mood boosting

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As well as comfort, hygge encompasses the ideas of happiness and nourishing the mind and body. So raw chocolate is another great ‘hygge food’. According to Cassandra, “As well as being a comforting indulgence, raw chocolate, such as OMBAR Chocolate (£1.99, ombar.co.uk) contains natural, mood-boosting substances, including phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical that’s released when we’re in love. It’s also rich in magnesium, which is associated with relaxation.”

4. Take a break from life and enjoy the moment

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It is so easy to forget to take a break from the office, or to visit your favourite coffee shop and watch the world go by. Hygge is all about those simple moments you don’t always appreciate or make the most of. So why not try making a simple midweek meal into a more memorable occasion by laying the table with your favourite crockery, lighting a few candles and turning off any background noise, such as the TV or radio, in order to really enjoy the moment.

5. Hue – gah the night away

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The word “Hue-gah” translates literally as “cosiness”, so what better way to spend the evening than sitting by the fire on a cold night? Dark nights fill many people with dread, but why not embrace it with things that make you happy, such as knitted socks, incense, candles and warm blankets? Happiness is key to embracing the hygge lifestyle.

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