Dec 03, 2023
How to relax and recoup Danish style

It's hygge season: How to embrace the Danish lifestyle of rest and coziness


Feet in red socks by the burning fireplace. Family relaxes by warm fire and warming up theirs feet in woollen socks. Cozy atmosphere. Winter and Christmas holidays concept.
Anastasiia Krivenok/Getty Images

This story originally published on Oct. 14, 2022 and was updated on Nov. 9, 2023 to include more tips.

For many people, autumn is synonymous with hygge — the Danish concept often translated as a feeling of coziness. The cooler weather makes people want to snuggle up with a good book or watch a movie marathon under a blanket on the couch.

But it can be hard to slow down in our fast-paced world, says Tricia Hersey, author of the book Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto. Too often, we only let ourselves rest after we've checked everything off our to-do list and completely exhausted ourselves, she says.

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Rest, however, is a "divine human right" that shouldn't require explanation or justification, says Hersey. It's "not frivolous and it's not a luxury. It's something that allows us to tap into our creativity and imagination and heal our bodies."

There are many ways to embrace your right to rest, unplug and get hygge this fall season, whether it's in bed, in the kitchen or in your favorite cozy nook in the house. Here are 11 comforting ideas from Life Kit to inspire you.

Give yourself a break

Unplug from the internet. Run an errand or go for a walk without bringing your phone. Or try putting your phone in another room while you cook dinner or watch TV. This episode has more great tips on how to unplug from a screen.

Put a 'rest day' on your calendar. Hersey says she puts a "rest day" on her calendar every week. On rest days, "I don't look at my email. I don't respond to anything work-related. I lay around the house," she says. "I don't engage in any type of labor outside of what feels good to me."

Let go of that feeling of FOMO. When you find yourself thinking the grass is greener on the other side, remind yourself why you're watering yours. "Maybe [you chose to stay in] because you had a long week and you need to recharge with some alone time. Or maybe you have an early start the next day. Whatever the reason might be, it's important to remember that as humans, we live by making a series of trade-offs," says Aarti Gupta, clinical director at TherapyNest in Palo Alto, Calif.

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Indulge yourself

Spend the morning reading in bed. Lynn Neary has been covering books for NPR for over a decade. In our episode on how to get into a reading habit, she told us: "I love to lie in bed and read — particularly on weekend mornings." It's a good way to start your day and you're less likely to fall asleep while reading, she adds.

Create a home theater. Devika Girish, co-deputy editor of Film Comment Magazine, explains what you'll need to mimic the immersive experience of a movie theater at home. Watch the film on the biggest screen available to you (if you can, get a projector). Get some blankets. And fix yourself some snacks. Girish particularly loves munching on crisped chickpeas and popcorn and sipping a hot cup of cider while watching movies.

Eat a comforting meal

Cook this one-pan cheesy baked pasta dish. Food writer Melissa Clark loves cooking easy meals for her family with just one pan. This tactic, she says, can help reduce the time we spend cooking and cleaning — and leave us with more time for lounging. Try her recipe for this comforting baked pasta with tomato, sausage and ricotta.

Bake a prettier pie. Baker Lauren Ko has a step-by-step guide on how to make a spoke-shaped design on top of a pie. Place a circle-shaped cookie cutter in the center of an unbaked pie. Then take strips of dough and lay it across the pie, around the cutter, in increments of half an inch. "The optical illusion of the full design inspires a curved effect," she says — and a pie crust that will be sure to impress your guests.

Add this secret ingredient to your soup. Sohla El-Waylly, chef and author of Start Here: Instructions For Becoming A Better Cook, shares her secret superhero ingredient for making good soup: a pinch of MSG. It adds "a little bit of savory depth that makes you want to keep eating more."

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Make time for reflection

Rotate out the cherished mementos on your bookshelves. The items you display in your house "are reminders of what you value about yourself and how you live your life," says Sally Augustin, an environmental psychologist and principal at Design With Science. But they can make a home look busy or cluttered. Augustin's solution? Think of these items as a visiting exhibit that you can swap out every month. Replace a photo of you and your mom with a more recent one. Or, swap the knick-knack you brought home from a vacation with a painting that a friend made you.

Make an ancestral altar. Create a place in your home to honor beloved family members and friends who have passed away. Display family heirlooms or tchotchkes that represent each ancestor. These things "carry an energetic signature that connects with our sense of history and our imagination, which will give us the parts of [our] history that may have been lost," says Camara Meri Rajabari, a psychotherapist who helps Black, Indigenous and people of color explore their ancestral roots.

Write a thank you letter to a loved one. Think of someone in your life who you have not had the chance to thank, says Christina Costa, a psychologist who has studied the positive effects of gratitude on the brain. "Why are you grateful for that person? Think of a specific instance when they helped you. Then send them a letter, an email, or even better, deliver the letter in person and read it to them." Studies have found that giving thanks and counting blessings can help people sleep better, lower stress and improve interpersonal relationships.

The digital story was edited by Clare Marie Schneider. The visual producer is Kaz Fantone.

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