Cultivating Hygge at the Office
To-ga! To-ga! Toga! Toga!
You may recognize this famous line from National Lampoon’s Animal House, a 1978 film about a misfit group of fraternity boys who take on the system at their college. To let off steam, the film’s characters dressed in bed sheets, and went to a Toga party. The film put both this signature gathering and toga cheer on the map.
Hygge! (pronounced hooga) Hygge! Hygge!
Right now, there could be no more fitting chant than Hygge! No one is actually singing these words in repetition, except in the massive media coverage. It is a wellness trend worth crooning over.
Hygge is a lifestyle with roots in Denmark. It is the Scandinavian interpretation of good living which may include nesting at home, but also cozying up to simple pleasures and habits that nurture well-being wherever the day finds you. At home, we can adjust the lighting, slip into a hot bath, curl up on the sofa to binge watch coveted DVD recordings in snug socks, or eating soothing foods to cultivate hygge. At the office, the sweet spot for experiencing hyggeligt (hygge-like) touches may differ, but incorporating little joys throughout a busy working day can go far in living the lifestyle.
Disclaimer: Consult your doctor before cultivating hygge at the office. Side effects may include increased happiness, productivity and thriving.
Hygge, originally a Norwegian term for well-being is a booming trend in both the US and the UK. It comes at a critical time when, according to the World Happiness Report 2017, recently released by the United Nations, happiness in on the decline here in the America. The United States is ranked 14th in happiness, down a spot from last year, while compared to Denmark (three-time “World’s Happiest Country” winner) placing second only to Norway, this year’s happiest country in the report.
An almost palpable level of stress-related unrest and unhappiness is on the rise. Is it surprising? We suffer from a chronically over-booked calendar disorder. We understand the benefits of a ‘digital detox’ from our Smartphones and social media, but most choose to ignore the symptoms of overuse including: disturbed sleep, lack of concentration, depression and weight gain. Coffee and sugar remain a major driver in our country’s daily eat for energy strategy. The lines of work and play have become blurry, especially for busy professionals climbing the ladder of success. On-time meals and 8 hour sleep cycles have been replaced with intentions to eat “when I have the time”, and haphazard sleep patterns. High caffeine energy drinks and impromptu snacking are used to take the edge of stress.
Since the presidential election, it has become customary to use late-night satire and talking news heads as a sedative to relax and make sense of events of the day. It is hard to resist the desire to check top trending stories on Google when making a bathroom run in the middle of the night, even when the phone is nesting in a charger in the living room.
Adrenal glands are stressed by restless nights. Sacrifices in well-being are many, the day after we’re short on sleep. We can feel robbed of even a moment’s comfort. So, it might be time to create our own.
While hygge is much to do about nesting and staying home to cultivate wellbeing, it is not limited by time off-the-clock, place or season. Appreciating simple pleasures and small joys in life frequently, hygge followers are dialed into a power source — their own happiness. Living in a world of constantly evolving technology, all can benefit from leaning into hygge — even while deadlines and office imperatives are top priority. Hygge is the precursor of elevated performance and living life fully charged.
Spring into Hygge:
1. While hygge is linked to the cozy days of winter, it is a style of living that welcomes all seasons.
Invest in a quality hot and cold thermos. Start the day with a warming drink and chase it with a cool beverage in the afternoon. Freeze a nutrient dense smoothie overnight, and let it begin to thaw when your morning alarm goes off. Bring home-baked breakfast cookies to work and share hygge with friends. Hygge is about lifting others up as well.
2. With the money you save toting beverages from home, instead of loading that coffee card, purchase a stainless steel lunchbox you can fill with cozy comfort food, perhaps leftover from last night’s dinner. You will look forward to meals more, and eat healthier on a more consistent basis. A freeze-able lunch bag is a game changer as well. It will keep fruit and drinks cool and transport perishable meals and snacks.
3. Step outside during a break to fill your lungs, your brain and blood with new oxygen. Sit on a nearby bench for a minute (who hasn’t got a minute?). Be vigilant about not checking your phone while seated there. Create boundaries in this moment to do nothing but breathe, look around or carry an inspirational pocket-sized book for pleasure. Try “Stealing Fire” By S. Kotler and J. Wheal, on how our brain and body can be optimized to its’ greatest potential. My friend Jim Kwik (Kwiklearning.com) highly recommends this, as he is a mind expert and likes to build better and brighter brains. Find him on Insta @jimkwik. He knows a thing or two about finding moments in the day for hygge.
4. Bring a tiny vase for your desk and keep a fresh flower in it. Carry a scented salve for tired hands. Sip a cup or warm water with nothing in it. Allow it to calm you. Bring an exceptional apple to work. The Envy hybrid apple from Trader Joe’s is a perfect start. It is, as described by the seller as “the glorious result of the intentional cross-breeding of Braeburn and Royal Gala apples in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand.” Or find the piece of fruit that turns your afternoon snack into a magic carpet ride. Afternoon coffee can’t do what nature can.
5. Head of the Happiness Institute in Copenhagen and author of the Little Book of Hygge, Mike Weiking offers Danish secrets to living well.
Here are a few:
· Get cosy. Wear really comfortable shoes to the office and luxuriate in wearing them. Even if you walk into the office in heels, be comfortable while sitting at your desk for hours.
· Be here now. (Do nice things for yourself throughout the day.)
· Take a lunch (away from your desk some days.)
· Cook more (Homemade food is a feel-good.)
· Catch the light of day. Don’t miss it.
· Live life today, like there is no coffee tomorrow.
In other words, don’t worry, be #hygge.