On Thursday, October 20, 2022, Dr. Sigrid Ladores, University of Alabama-Birmingham, and two of her PhD students, Brittany Woods, and Leslie Pitts, discussed wellness and coping in CF by introducing us to hygge. Working directly with a CF patient/advocate, Morgan Polen, Sigrid, Brittany, and Leslie created and conducted a research project on hygge. The goal of the presentation was to increase the understanding of how hygge can be used to promote wellness and coping with CF and other chronic illness. CFReSHC PTF attendees were the first to see the results of hygge study in CF!
So, what is hygge (Hoo-guh)? It is a Norwegian word for well-being. It originates from the old Norse term “hyggia” which is a mindset focused on finding happiness in ordinary things. Its key principles are: acceptance of conditions out of one’s control, communal engagement, balance, listening to one’s body, appreciation for nature, and creating an environment of coziness and comfort to elicit feelings of wellness and contentment.
For the research study, the team conducted phone interviews with 15 people with CF to learn what CF related complications they experience and what makes them happy. The three main complications were anxiety, sinus disease, and asthma. All of respondents reported that hygge practices improve mental health and emotional well-being.
What hygge techniques can be used to promote this well being? Turns out it’s very personal on what works for each person. However there are two main aspects to hygge; purposeful mindset and a curated environment. Purposeful mindset starts with being present and mindful. Curating your environment is all about making your surroundings warm and cozy. One major aspect of hygge is being in nature and taking the time to appreciate the seasons.
Here are some examples of hygge activities: taking personal inventory on when you’re not feeling well and changing the little things you can; being in nature and taking walks; and ambience and coziness of your surroundings. Doing treatments in a specific place that is cozy and comforting is one option. Creating art, journaling, decorating your hospital room are others. Basically, hygge is a anything to put on a smile with a focus on being intentional with your thoughts, your purpose, your surroundings.
Hygge doesn’t require a lot of extra things, money, or planning. Even five minutes of finding hygge in your day can be comforting. Hygge can be part of your life regardless of your health status.
Remember, hygge is more encompassing than self care, it is about intentional mindfulness, taking purposeful time with nature, and creating an environment that is soothing, warm, and cozy.