Hygge: Cozy Danish concept fights seasonal affective disorder

The+Appalachian+Online

The Appalachian Online

Cameron Stuart , Reporter

With less daylight and more cold weather, hygge can help improve App State students’ mental health.

The Danish concept, pronounced “hoo-gah,” is about creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying life with other people, according to the website, Visit Denmark.

“It’s an evolving concept for me,” said Audrey Stone, the host of the Counseling Center’s hygge workshop on Feb. 5. “But to me, hygge means creating intentional warmth and connection and coziness, and that can mean with other people or on your own.”

Stone is a staff counselor at the Counseling Center and the diversity outreach coordinator.

“Given that it can be so dark and cold in wintertime in Boone, some aspects of hygge like connecting with other people, experiencing physical and emotional warmth, and intentionally doing things that bring us pleasure and joy can help us deal with the depression,” Stone said.

Living farther from the equator and in an area with less light leads to an increased risk for seasonal affective disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Kimber Gada, second-year graduate student in the clinical mental health counseling program, said hygge can help reduce stress.

“There’s a lot of pressure, especially as a college student, to constantly be performing your absolute best,” Gada said. “Introducing this concept can call attention to that and emphasize that there’s a different way of doing things.”

Stone said students can implement hygge into their lives by creating a physical environment of comfort and coziness to feel grounded and happy.

“Another really important piece is that students acknowledge and appreciate moments that are meaningful to them,” Stone said. “Those could happen on their own or with other people. That connection to the specialness and the coziness are really important.”

Candles, baking, walking her dog and spending personal time with friends are ways Stone implements hygge into her life.

Gada said students can take the time to sit and drink their morning coffee rather than running out the door with it.

“Be hygge by creating space to do something to engage the creative side of your brain and work with your hands,” Gada said.

Hygge is about a connection between others and the world, but Stone said social media, particularly Instagram, makes hygge all about fuzzy socks, candles and sweaters.

“I think that’s part of it, but I think social media can sort of over-commercialize it, and make it a