Hue-Guh, Hooga, Hygge! A Philosophy That Could Help Alleviate Your IBS Symptoms

“Hygge, (pronounced hue-guh) is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cozy, charming or special.”1 Per, hygge translates roughly to ‘coziness’.2 Oxford Dictionaries even shortlisted this “hard-to-say word” ‘hygge’ as one of their Words of the Year 2016! While hygge may just now be gaining popularity worldwide, it’s always been a Danish tradition, and may be why the Danes are the happiest people in the world.

Hygge may not have on true definition, but in essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. Hygge can be achieved by a warm cooked meal, the way you take your time in making that meal, a glow from a candlelight, a cozy blanket, warm socks, your favorite piece of artwork, or just carrying on with company, versus washing the dishes immediately after dinner. The Danes believe that creating a life of hygge is imperative for a happy life. They even go as far as to say that American’s need to be better at hygge, and I can agree! It’s believed that the Danes are so good at hygee because they spend so much time indoors during the long, dark, Danish winters that they make their homes an oasis. Hygee is way more than just lots of candles, good friends, and good food. Per ‘Visit Denmark’, “Hygee is a philosophy; a way of life that has helped Danes understand the importance of simplicity, time to unwind and slowing down the pace of life.”2

Hygge meets IBS

You may be asking yourself, “So, what does hygge have to do with IBS?” Hygge has everything to do with IBS! If you’re like me, your IBS is triggered by stress. Of course food increases the chances of a flare, but you are usually more likely to flare from said food when you are under stress. What if we, as IBS sufferers, could create this hygge experience in our lives? Would our IBS improve? I am experimenting with this for myself. Keep reading to find out how.

My husband and I recently purchased a new home. Our first! It has been such an exciting experience, and for us, it wasn’t that stressful, thanks to an amazing realtor! Ever since moving into this new home, I’ve wanted to create a zen experience. I’ve always been a homebody, and I love to be comfortable. We have lived in so many apartments in the past few years that just felt like it would have been near impossible to create a hygge experience for me there. I was determined to make our new home hygge. So, we got started.

We strongly disliked the harsh, dark crimson red dining room, and recently invested in painting it a light pink, carefully selected from the “Quiet Comfort” HGTV/Sherwin Williams color collection, described as hushed hues for a peaceful home. That room went from being my least favorite room in the house, to my favorite. I walk in there now, and I get to exercise my “smile muscle.” It’s light and airy, perfect to reach my personal hygge. I also invested in big, fluffy white pillows for our couch, which can also be described as quiet comfort. I have found myself investing more in making my house hygge, rather than investing in clothes that make me upset because they show my IBS bloat. This makes me happy. I have started to take the time to actually light the candles that I purchase. I feel my fingers on the igniter, the motion, and watch the wick as it sets on fire, creating a miraculous flicker, taking in the aromas. I started buying essential oils, and actually using them; slowing down to breathe the oils in, as my skin absorbs them, and purchasing an essential oil diffuser, to create hygge in our bedroom. I finally purchased a humidifier because I know I’ve always needed one. I finally bought a Keurig after wanting one for 5 years, which is hygge to me, making my life simpler.

Practice self-care

I have started practicing better self-care. Feeling the grit of the face scrub between my fingers, and breathing in the scent of the mask as it works on my face. Massaging a coconut oil hair mask in my hair, even though the texture feels funky on my hands and fingers. Waking up and taking 5 deep breaths before picking up my cell phone in the mornings. Drinking the tea that I brewed before it gets too cold to enjoy, feeling the warmth travel down my throat. Taking baths with Epsom salts and bath bombs, even though the bath water at our new house doesn’t get as hot, as I like it. Listening to books that give me confidence, and ideas on how to better myself, and those around me.

If you had seen my life before, you would see that I have come a very long way in making my life more hygge, but I still have a long way to go. For example, I would love to meet some new friends in our area that my husband and I would want to carry on conversation with well into the night. I would love to have more self-control when it comes to eating certain IBS offensive foods, especially on the weekends. I would love to start going to church more. I would love to read more books, and relax more in my new favorite cozy blanket. I would love to be able to sit still, without worrying about all the things I need to be doing. I would love to close some of the tabs in my brain, and not open a new one until another one was closed. I would love to do all of these things, but to reach hygge, we also need to remember that we are all a work in progress. Working toward hygge can be tough, especially in the American culture, but it can be obtained. Since starting this experiment, striving for a life of hygge, I can already tell a big difference in my IBS symptoms. I’m excited for even more progress when it comes to my IBS, as I get closer to reaching hygge.

Watch this fun video for a look inside hygge.

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