As the season shifts into autumn, I find myself longing for comfort and coziness.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the concept of “Hygge” (pronounced hoo-ga).
If you’re not familiar, Hygge is a Danish word that represents a concept and lifestyle rooted in coziness, contentment, and well-being. Overall, Hygge encourages a slower, more mindful way of living and finding joy in the everyday moments.
As a Forest and Nature Therapy Guide, I’ve been contemplating how we can cultivate this feeling of Hygge outdoors, immersing ourselves in the soothing embrace of the natural world.
Nature has an inherent capacity to comfort us if we’re open to sitting with her. She’s a living, breathing entity of which we are an integral part.
One of my most cherished encounters with this comforting aspect of nature took place last August during the immersion portion of my Forest and Nature Therapy Guide Certification in the picturesque landscapes of Vermont. As part of the experience, we embarked on a four-hour solo walk akin to a silent retreat. We were encouraged to pack a bag with items that would accompany us throughout the day, and the only rules were, 1. if we were injured or needed help we were to blow a whistle 3 times (we were all given whistles for emergencies) and 2. Should we encounter anyone during our solo walk, we were to act as though we didn’t see them. The entire four hours was meant to be a silent, alone journey.
I gathered my essentials into my bag: an assortment of pens and pencils (my pen-and-paper obsession is undeniable🤓), my favorite journal, a book of meditations, some snacks, a warm blanket, and a flask of hot tea. The location for this unique journey was the enchanting Basecamp at Beaver Falls, a place that encapsulated the quintessential Vermont charm.
For those who’ve never visited Vermont, it’s precisely as depicted in the movies – densely forested, lushly green, and radiating an innate sense of peace. As I strolled, I couldn’t help but revel in the soft, springy forest floor, a result of years of pine needles from the towering hemlock trees that graced the landscape. Tiny pinecones lay scattered, creating a delicate mosaic.
After walking the grounds for a half hour or so, taking in the grounds in silence, I came upon a tucked away spot on top of a ridge and decided it was the perfect place to settle. I laid down my blanket, relishing the tranquil surroundings. There, amid towering pine trees and flourishing ferns, I found myself sitting in silent communion with nature.
I retrieved my flask of tea and, as the warmth spread through my fingertips, I was surprised by the profound coziness that enveloped me. It struck me that this was my Sunday morning ritual back home: sipping tea and playing with my pens and journal. Here I was, thousands of miles away, replicating the ritual. It was a moment of profound comfort and familiarity, an experience that touched me deeply.
This day etched a revelation in my heart – not only is nature profoundly healing, but it can also be incredibly cozy when we open ourselves to its embrace. The memory of that day continues to remind me of the warmth and comfort that nature generously offers to those who seek it.
Nature holds a wealth of comfort for all of us. It’s a warmth that many might not expect, but one that is readily available. Let’s explore how you can find your own sense of Hygge in nature.
Discovering Hygge in Nature
Hygge is more than just a set of practices; it’s a way of engaging with the world around us. To discover Hygge in nature, we must open to seeing the inherent connection between the coziness we seek and the natural world.
Here are five activities that allow you to cultivate this sense of comfort while immersed in the outdoors to get you started:
🌲 Forest Bathing and Nature Therapy Walk:
Step into the woods and experience a mindful forest bathing session. Allow yourself to wander through a nature setting at a local park. Focus on your breath and the sensations that surround you. Hygge begins with a deep appreciation for the present moment, and the forest or green space provides the perfect backdrop for finding this sense of coziness. I offer public and private Guided Forest Bathing and Nature Therapy Walks if you’d like some help getting started with this practice.
🪵 Cozy Campfire Evenings:
Gather your loved ones around a crackling campfire. Share stories, laughter, and warm drinks while the campfire’s glow blankets you with a sense of warmth and contentment. Nature’s music, from the rustling leaves to the distant night sounds, will provide a comforting symphony.
🍁 Autumn Leaf Art:
During your forest (or local park) excursions, collect fallen leaves and pinecones. Use these natural treasures to create ephemeral art on the forest floor. Stay in the moment by focusing on the texture, colors and details of each leaf. It’s an opportunity to express your creativity and to cherish the simplicity of being in nature.
🫖 Nature’s Tea Time:
Prepare a cup of herbal tea using ingredients from your garden or your favorite local tea company. Let the flavors and scents of the plants envelop you, offering a soothing and refreshing experience. Hygge is all about savoring the simple pleasures, and a cup of herbal tea in nature is a perfect embodiment of this principle.
🕯️ Candlelight/Flashlight Night Walks:
As the sun sets, embark on a tranquil night walk with flashlight or even candlelight as your guide. Nature takes on a different character after dark, one that invites reflection and introspection. This unique perspective on the natural world enhances the feeling of coziness.
Health Benefits of Hygge in Nature:
The integration of Hygge and nature has profound physical, mental, emotional, and relational benefits. As we connect with the natural world, we shed the stress of modern life, and begin to feel more grounded and in tune with our surroundings. The mental clarity and emotional balance we find in nature can bring forth a sense of contentment that radiates into our daily lives. Moreover, sharing these experiences with loved ones deepens our connections and cultivates lasting bonds.
We’ll soon be shifting out of Autumn and into winter and all the hustle and bustle that comes along with it. As the season shifts and life’s pace begins to quicken, embracing Hygge in nature becomes an essential part of our well-being. The cozy moments we share with the natural world not only bring comfort and contentment but also renew our spirits.
So, this autumn, why not join me for a guided Forest Bathing and Nature Therapy walk?
I invite you to experience the depth of Hygge in nature and nurture your well-being in the soothing embrace of the outdoors.
Let’s journey together to discover the beauty of slowing down, finding comfort, and experiencing the magic of Hygge in the natural world.
In Peace and Presence,