Healthy Food Bites to Go: Cultivating Hygge on Campus

Toga! Toga! Toga! Toga! You may recognize this famous line from National Lampoon’s Animal House, a 1978 film about a misfit group of fraternity boys who take on the system at their college. To let off steam, the film’s characters dressed in bed sheets and went out together to a Toga party. The film put this signature gathering on the map, across
college campuses for years to come.

Hygge! (pronounced huegah) Hygge! Hygge! Right now, there could be no more fitting chant than Hygge!

No one is actually singing these words in repetition, except in the massive media coverage. It is a wellness trend worth crooning over.


Hygge, is a lifestyle with roots in Denmark. It is the Scandinavian interpretation of good living which may include staying home and cozying up to simple pleasures and habits that generate well-being and feelings of happiness. These may include little joys like slipping into a hot bath, quiet reading time, enjoying soothing foods such as homemade soup, a cup of quality tea with a square of chocolate and cozying up on the sofa to binge watch coveted DVD recordings in snug socks. A crackling fireplace, flickering candles or lights with dimmers, are the sweet spot for lighting a room in order to experience hyggeligt (hyggelike) touches.

Hygge, originally a Norwegian term for wellbeing is now a booming trend in both the US and the UK. It comes at a critical time when, according to the World Happiness Report 2017, recently released by the United Nations, happiness in on the decline here in the America. The United States is ranked 14th in happiness, down a spot from last year, while compared to Denmark (threetime “World’s Happiest Country” winner) placing second only to Norway, this year’s happiest country in the report.

An almost palpable level of stress-related unrest and unhappiness is on the rise here in the US. Is it surprising? We suffer from a chronically overbooked calendar disorder. We understand the benefits of a ‘digital detox’ from our Smartphones and social media, but most choose to ignore the symptoms of overuse including: disturbed sleep, lack of concentration, depression, weight gain… wait, there’s more! Coffee and sugar remain a major driver in our country’s daily eat for energy strategy.

The lines of work and play have become blurry, especially for busy students. On-time meals and eight-hour sleep cycles have been replaced with intentions to eat “when I have the time”, armed with high caffeine energy drinks or shots, and sweet ‘n salty snacks to take the edge off hunger.

Many currently awaken daily to a kind of political discontent which over-stresses adrenal glands as well, and robs us of even a moment’s comfort. So, it might be time to create our own. Hello hygge.

While hygge is much to do about nesting and staying indoors to cultivate well-being, it can also be found outdoors. It’s a social endeavor bringing intimacy between family and friends to lift each other up, yet is easily practiced alone. As a cozy cure for stress on winter nights, hygge is not limited by time of day, season or weather conditions. Appreciating simple pleasures and small joys in life regularly, hygge followers are dialed into a power source – their own happiness. Living in a world of constantly evolving technology, all can benefit from leaning into hygge – especially on campus.

Spring into Hygge:

1. While hygge is linked to the cozy days of winter, it is a style of living that welcomes all seasons. Set up a game of Frisbee outside with classmates in between classes. Bring home-baked breakfast cookies to school and share hygge with friends. Hygge is also about lifting others up too. Who doesn’t love a homemade cookie?



2. Invest in a quality hot/cold thermos. The one (pictured) with a metal straw is perfect for iced or hot drinks. Start the day with a warming drink and chase it with a cool drink in the afternoon, or vice versa, freeze a smoothie overnight and let it begin to thaw when your morning alarm goes off. The screw top thermos (pictured) keeps coffee, tea or soup piping hot.



3. With the money you save bringing beverages from home for a month, purchase a stainless steel lunchbox you can fill with cozy comfort food. I really enjoy brown bagging lunch in containers now. I used to think it high maintenance (before trying it), but now I look forward to meals more, and eat healthier on a more consistent basis. A freeze-able lunch bag is a game changer as well (pictured).

4. Before or after classes, meetings or study sessions, slip onto one of the many benches scattered around campus to soak in springtime. Be vigilant about not checking your phone while seated there. Create boundaries in this moment to do nothing but breathe, look around or read for pleasure. Keep a motivational book in your backpack. Try “Stealing Fire” By S. Kotler and J. Wheal, on how our brain and body can be optimized to its’ greatest potential. My friend Jim Kwik ( highly recommends this, as he is a mind expert and likes to build better and bright brains. Find him on Instagram: @jimkwik. He knows a thing or two about finding moments in the day for hygge.

Head of the Happiness Institute in Copenhagen and author of The Little Book of Hygge, Mike Weiking, offers Danish secrets to living well. Here are some:

•Take a break.
•Get cosy.
•Choose your lighting wisely.
•Be here now.
•Give yourself a break from the stressful demands of the day.
•Cook at home more and with friends (and brown bag it!)
•Eat cake (you baked) and savor every bite.
•Catch the light of day. Don’t miss it.
•Live life today, like there is no coffee tomorrow.

In other words, don’t worry, be #hygge

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