With back-to-school behind us and sweater weather just around the corner, it’s time to cuddle up, get cozy, and make the most of the calm before the storm of pre-holiday madness.
World travelers versed in the art of self-care likely have a handle on hygge. This Danish concept of coziness, pronounced hoo-gah, marries warmth, contentment, and an overall sense of well-being with a charming simplicity. It’s no wonder that in the past few years, hygge as swept the globe and warmed toes and hearts worldwide!
But what other treasures await in the wide world of self-care? Get inspired with us to peer over the horizon – it’s time to pumpkin-spice up your cozy routine with these next-level international self-care trends.
Denmark: Hygge and pyt
The Danish are the OG masters of self-care: Despite winters so heavy and dark that Danes lovingly refer to their country as “Mordor” (yes, the land of evil and darkness from Lord of the Rings) from November through February, Denmark is routinely ranked one of the three happiest countries in the world. The secret is in the cultural mindset, which has given rise to the international trends of hygge, and pyt.
Hygge is all about getting cozy and staying in. Think of its brand as emphasizing handmade, beautiful objects like homespun wool sweaters, handmade ceramics and dipped candles. Hygge isn’t all about objects, though. It embodies a sense of togetherness – think simple family meals at raw wooden tables, and nights spent cuddled by the fire, sipping cocoa and singing folk songs.
Everyone’s self-care needs are different, and some self-care experts are uncovering the virtue in a different Danish concept: pyt. Pronounced like “pid,” pyt doesn’t have a precise English translation: It’s a cultural concept about cultivating healthy thoughts to better deal with stress. If hygge keeps your heart and toes warm, pyt is more about maintaining mental health for an overall sense of wellbeing.
Want to cozy it up like the Danes? Cuddle up to the goodies in Hygge Box ($34/mo.), like warm socks, cocoa, candles, cookies and more. Then, round it out by cultivating peace of mind with the therapist-curated exercises in MindWander ($17.99/mo.), which build practical skills to reduce stress and anxiety.
Japan: Ikigai and wabi sabi
Hop across the globe to Japan to learn about the philosophies of ikigai and wabi sabi. Ikigai, a sense of harmonic purpose, is credited with being the Japanese secret to a long and happy life. To strive toward ikigai, sit down with your journal (Cloth & Paper Co, $16.33/mo.) and consider four simple questions about your life’s work: Do you love it? Are you good at it? Does the world need it? And, does it support you? When you can answer yes to all four, you’ve achieved ikigai, and the fulfillment that comes with it.
Wabi sabi is an aesthetic principle that, like all things Japanese, is deeply rooted in philosophy: in this case, a beauty that is impermanent, imperfect, and incomplete. Homes of wabi sabi practitioners are uncluttered, featuring simple, handmade or natural objects, asymmetry and roughness, natural light, and clean lines. Especially in the rush of the working world and holiday madness, wabi sabi can be a balm.
Ready to turn your self-care Japanese? Get cozy with Kizuna Box ($32.49/mo.), a beautifully curated monthly selection of Japanese ceramics, sweets, letter-writing paper and more.
When it comes to dark, cold winters, the Welsh give the Danes a run for their money. So it’s no surprise that Wales is answering Denmark’s hygge with a cozy lifestyle concept of their own: the seemingly unpronounceable cwtch.
Cwtch (don’t worry, we’ve got you – it’s pronounced “kutch”) is like hygge, but specifically for the home. Specifically, cwtch comes from the Welsh word for “cubbyhole,” referring to a small, cozy nook made specifically for cuddling in. It also means something like “giant, double hug” – so practitioners of this form of self-care are essentially crafting home spaces (think canopy beds piled in thick quilts) that embrace you like a hug.
Ready to cuddle up with cwtch? Nothing says cozy to us like curling up and reading a beloved old book with a mug of fragrant, steaming tea or coffee. Get insta-cwtch with Coffee and a Classic ($28.49/mo.), which delivers a hardcover classic novel, mugs, hot beverages of your choice, and all you need to read through the autumn and winter months.
Weather isn’t enough to keep Swedes and Norwegians inside. In fact, the concept of friluftsliv, meaning “open-air living” is central to Nordic culture, and visitors will see Swedes, Norwegians, and Danes out walking, hiking and biking even in sub-zero temperatures. Born of a belief that physical and mental health are strengthened by spending time in nature, the concept was popularized by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen in the 1850s, and has been driving the Scandinavians to seek wellness outdoors since.
Get back to nature to live your best friluftsliv. Take to the trails with Wild Woman ($37.65/mo.), an inspiring bundle of fitness gear, trail snacks, natural body products, and more. Or, gather up your friends for a camping weekend with the quarterly Out of the Box Camping ($55/qtr.), a subscription for campers and glampers that supplies you with all you need to get out and get your blood moving.
Let’s hop on down to Sweden and zero in on a concept the Swedes are insisting isn’t the new hygge. This simplicity-based lifestyle is called lagom, and it translates to something like, “Not too much, not too little – just right.” To live your life with the lagom mindset is to take things in moderation (yes, including moderation) – you shouldn’t crowd your home and mind, but you also don’t need to go full monk. It’s simple, clean, with an emphasis on upcycling and recycling. It’s anti-clutter. It’s just right.
Less about simple self-care and more about a living a full and vibrant life, this Dutch term has a cloud of translated meanings, including coziness, celebration, comfort and gregariousness. Unlike the rest of its cohort, gezellig (noun: gezelligheid) is about fun, and welcomes clutter, noise, and great time. Think laughter, warm colors, great food and spirits, and rooms crowded with the plants, books and knick-knacks that breathe life and personality into a space.
Want to have a gezellig autumn? Entertain your friends and keep the drinks flowing with a subscription to the brilliant cocktail mixer box Shaker & Spoon ($40/mo.), featuring upscale ingredients and elite drink recipes for late nights in your cozy home. Or even team up with friends to solve a crime with CosyKiller ($36.67/mo.), an armchair mystery-in-a-box. However you integrate gezellig into your life, you’ll welcome the autumn and winter with laughter, clutter, brightness and noise.