Scandinavia, whose cultural exports are as wide-ranging as Ikea, the Little Mermaid, and quality television, includes the countries Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.  It's easy to group these countries together as one big nation of happy, socially progressive bike-riders; however, for much of the year, the days are short and cold.  How do these countries consistently top various happiness indexes?  

Look to the newest lifestyle trend, pulled straight from the culture of Denmark: hygge.  Pronounced "hoo-gah," hygge was a finalist for Oxford Dictionary's word of the year for 2016 and is defined by the Danish tourism board as "creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people."  I can get on board with a philosophy that promotes cosiness and slowing down for the winter, and you can do with this guide:

The Little Things 

This is the time to pull on your favorite oversized sweater or fleece pajamas after a warm shower or bath.  Choose a favorite book to reread, or invite over the friends you can nap in front of to hang out and watch TV.  One Danish blogger recommends crime shows because watching grittier TV while safe inside increase your feeling of cosiness, like how lazy days seem better when it's raining or snowing outside.  Try something Scandinavian like The Bridge for extra hygge points, but I'm sure Criminal Minds works.

Hygge isn't about buying lots of fancy things or making sure you're having oh-so-candid Insta moments out.  This is the time to relax and appreciate the small joys in life, such as a fluffy pair of socks or free afternoons.

Tea Time

Really any warm drink will do, from chai to hot chocolate or even coffee, but I personally think tea is coziest, especially in a favorite mug.  As my roommates know from the constant sounds of my electric kettle, I am constantly sipping tea in our room.  Kettles are super inexpensive and safe for dorm use.  There is nothing more comforting than holding a warm, steaming mug, especially while hanging in your room with a good book or a favorite Netflix show.


One cannot drink tea or hot chocolate alone, and the actual process of baking is very comforting.  Plus, knowing a bunch of random ingredients will be something delicious soon always brings joy.  Choose a Danish recipe, like one of these cookies, to truly experience hygge.  If you don't have access to a full kitchen at school, attempt a mug cake using a communal microwave (and use Nutella in the middle to recreate a lava cake) or pray to the gods of the caf that there are fresh cookies.


Wood burning fireplaces are ideal, but even a gas fire can help create a cozy atmosphere. If you live somewhere warm, it's important to use light to invoke hygge, so you should try to create an artificial environment of warmth.  If you don't have a fireplace or simply want additional light, try lighting some candles.  (But not in your dorm.  This is when it's time to pull up the Yule log video on your Mac and use your imagination.)

Hygge means finding happiness in everyday life through celebrating the little things like drinking your favorite tea or having downtime with your family and friends (not to mention creating cosiness by lighting candles and using throw blankets). Instead of fighting the cold winter, embraces it with hygge by emphasizing warmth and cosiness.  

(And by all, Leslie really means the mid-winter slump.)