Hygge and the art of chilling the f**k out!

Lucy Cox

It’s a mizzly* Tuesday evening. Nothing planned. Daughter is in bed, husband is out and it’s cold and dark outside. From the moment the child woke up, I’ve spent all day on what feels like a dizzying hamster wheel. Meetings, emails, social media, food shopping, jobs around the house, arranging more meetings, planning stuff, sending overdue messages, making lists, washing clothes, wiping stuff and lots of apologizing (mostly things that I have forgotten to do or didn’t do very well in the first place). And have I achieved anything? No, not really.

Step 1. Pledge to do better tomorrow.

Step 2. Rinse and repeat.

It feels good to tick things off lists, and yet it feels so energy-zapping to know that you have either forgotten to do something, not done it well or not ticked off as many things as you had intended. Guilt and that feeling of under-achieving only seem to perpetuate the (need to stay on that) hamster-wheel.

You then wake up ten years later and realize that you are still running round in little circles, and your body isn’t thanking you for it (and neither is your mind). And I know I am not alone in this.

Dr. Susan Koven wrote in a 2013 Boston Globe column:

In the past few years, I’ve observed an epidemic of sorts: patient after patient suffering from the same condition. The symptoms of this condition include fatigue, irritability, insomnia, anxiety, headaches, heartburn, bowel disturbances, back pain, and weight gain. There are no blood tests or X-rays diagnostic of this condition, and yet it’s easy to recognize. The condition is excessive busyness.

Hmm, sounds familiar.

Isn’t it odd how we seem to derive our value these days by how ‘busy’ we are? ‘Effective’ is surely better than busy? Busy sounds chaotic and a little out of control. In fact, it sounds exhausting, and certainly not something to aspire to, yet we are conditioned to be busy!

How often do we hear this…

Someone“OMG how are you? I haven’t seen you for ages! How are things with you?”

Me“Great! BUSY! It’s non-stop at the moment!”

Someone“That’s fantastic! Things must be going really well for you!”

Me: …yeah, it’s all great!  

Why the hell do we do that? Busy isn’t always great and we are setting the bar higher for the person we are speaking with. Busy can be bloody hard work, and worse than that, addictive, because we are conditioned to feel if everyone thinks we are busy then we must be winning at life. No! We are failingat life. And we need to start changing the rhetoric around ‘busy-ness’, and embrace chilling the f**k out!

What if we replayed that conversation a different way …

Someone“OMG how are you? I haven’t seen you for ages! How are things with you?”

Me“Great! I was quite busy earlier this year, but thankfully it didn’t last long. I am quite effective at not doing much now!

Someone[Silence while they think of something to say]

Me: [Changing the subject swiftly] So, how are you??

Someone: “Great! BUSY! It’s non-stop at the moment!”


So, in light of my own self-diagnosed ‘busy-sickness’ I was thrilled earlier this year to when a gazillion people started talking about the Danish concept of ‘Hygge’ (pronounced Hoo-gah).

This is the concept of ‘cosiness’ and being consciously comfortable in a safe place. Think lit fires, candles and PJs. Blankets, books and baths. It is stopping, snuggling and breathing!

Yes, this is what we need more of ladies! As the nights draw in, let’s light our evenings with candles rather than laptops, and take time to consciously breathe rather than run around in circles. Let’s give each other permission to step away from competitive busying, and get on with just being.

In fact put down your mobile device/laptop right away and go and light something, dim the lights, grab something that doesn’t radiate a blue light or contain batteries (well actually, I’ll leave the battery option to your discretion!), and just take the night off.

I pledge to not judge any man or women that doesn’t retort with ‘Great! BUSY! It’s non-stop at the moment!’. In fact, I need to hear more people telling me they do as little as they can just so I have permission to get off my squeaky little hamster wheel and snuggle under a blanket for a while without feeling a bit shit about it!

Help inspire others by sharing your #HaltoHygge moments!