How to Hygge Your Workspace
Written by Courtney Eckerle
There’s that old cartoon sound—you know, where a cartoon wolf sees a shapely lady walking down the sidewalk, his eyes pop out and you hear the siren blaring: “hooo-ga, hoo-ga!”
Until I bought my sister a book on it for Christmas, that’s what I would have thought hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) was. A cartoon horn sound effect used to punctuate creepiness. But whatever the exact opposite feeling of being leered at by a cartoon wolf is, that’s hygge: a Danish lifestyle trend focused on feeling cozy, connected and mindful.
Hygge has taken over my home life. It’s influenced the way I dress, read, decorate and (of course) drink. My couch has no fewer than three blankets on it; I have cozy socks or slippers stashed all over the house; the amount of candles I go through in a month would rival a pre-electricity household; and I’ve invested in more sweaters than any self-respecting Floridian should.
But I needed more in my life. More coziness, more mindfulness, more tea, cider and mulled wine. So, I decided to experiment with hygge at work. During the grey, cold and wet months, you go into work while it’s dark outside; when you come out, it’s dark outside. It’s easy to fall prey to the winter doldrums. Your office starts to feel like a Las Vegas hotel, but only in the sense that you have no idea what day or time it is.
Embracing hygge at work is about finding pockets of time throughout the day to lean into that sleepy feeling, to become less stressed and bring more cozy to your desk. Hygge is all about fostering a feeling of happiness, congeniality and wellbeing in your everyday, ordinary life. By finding a deeper meaning in the small rituals and daily tasks, you can establish a more mindful connection with the world you inhabit. We spend so many hours in the office, it’s absolutely vital to establish that mindfulness and comfort there as well as in our homes.
There are many ways to bring cozy into the workplace, but these are five of the tactics I successfully hygged with:
1. Keep your favorite type of tea around.
… or cider, or kombucha or coffee. Whatever drink is a little treat for you and makes you take a deep breath in when you smell it and exhale all the stress away. I’ve also used this as an opportunity to cut down on my Diet Coke habit, which did not make me feel hygge at all.
Sometimes, when I’m working on quiet projects and don’t need to be at my desk, I go to a nearby coffee shop. If you have the flexibility, find one with a good vibe and comfy chairs—your productivity and emotional wellbeing will skyrocket.
2. Bring in your coziest clothes to work.
Since the temperature in the American workplace is typically calibrated to men (and is therefore freezing), most women I know already keep something at their desk to bundle up with. This is halfway to hygge. Finish the process by bringing in your best scarf, blanket or even some slippers to put on during your email-answering time. Stylish, productive and cozy. Very hygge.
3. Get an essential oil diffuser for your desk.
A nice dose of lavender in your day is a good way to de-stress, while also combating the microwaved fish smell wafting through the halls. After you have to send a, “Per my last email...” email to someone, take a deep breath of essential oil, sip your hot tea, scrunch your toes in the fluffy slippers you’re hiding under your desk and loop your infinity scarf. Instant hygge.
(If you’re looking to cozy your commute and maybe take the edge off any road rage, there are also essential oil diffusers for your car.)
4. Take a leisurely stroll around the office.
Hygge is all about appreciating the moment, and disconnecting from your devices is a big part of that. Besides being recommended by doctors, getting up once an hour to take a quick loop around your office is a good way to make a connection with the people you work with. You spend a lot of your life with them, and a meaningful interaction with one or two of them in a day can make the hours a lot more pleasant.
(Bonus: Gradually building up a workplace rapport is also a pretty good way to hygge your way into a promotion.)
5. Invest in an audiobook or download a podcast.
The ultimate way to take a relaxing mental break is with a good book. There’s no better way to be constructively alone. Now, you can’t exactly pop your feet up and start reading at your desk (and if you can, congratulations; you’ve found the perfect job), but you can put on an audiobook or your favorite podcast when things are slow.
These are just a few simple ways to bring more peace and mindfulness into the place you spend a majority of your hours. However you want to create your daily cozy, remember: Hygge is about keeping things simple, and not unnecessarily bringing anxiety and chaos into your life.
As Office icon and would-be hygge enthusiast Michael Scott said, “KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid.”