‘Focusing on the present’: Practice mindfulness with Scripps College Hygge Club

Five students on Zoom hold up homemade fortune tellers.
The Scripps Hygge Club aims to foster mindfullness and create a comfortable environment. (Courtesy: Hygge Club)

When Surina Bothra SC ’21 returned from her time abroad in Copenhagen, she brought with her the concept of hygge in hopes of sharing it with her community at a time when they might need it most.

“Hygge is a Scandinavian cultural concept, and it refers to feelings of coziness and mental well-being,” Bothra said. “The idea of it is that you are spending time with people in close-knit settings and focusing on the present.”

In collaboration with her close friends Blaike Cheramie SC ’22 and Anjali Mamidwar SC ’21, Bothra started Hygge — pronounced hoo-gah — Club at Scripps College. Although the founders didn’t expect to launch their club during a pandemic, its focus on de-stressing and mindfulness may have been exactly what Scrippsies needed to get through another virtual semester. 

As a consistently high-ranking country in the World Happiness Report, Denmark takes great pride in its common practice of hygge and defends it against companies that use it as a profitable aesthetic.

“It was really cool seeing how pervasive hygge was in the culture,” Bothra said. “It made people seem really connected and happy, so we were thinking that it would be nice to start that at Scripps.” 

Though there were only about 10 active members during the fall semester, Hygge Club is hoping to gain more through their social media and events, which they plan based on what is needed in the community, psychological research and hygge principles.

“We had a ‘Hygge Spaces’ workshop last semester that was pretty heavily grounded in research,” Bothra said. “We had a fun component of making crafts and room decoration, but we were also talking about what you can do based on research to make your living space more comfortable and improve your mental health.” 

“It’s a really niche thing to have a topic that touches so many people and yet is so subjective.” —Blaike Cheramie SC ’22

Cheramie explained how Hygge Club events can be especially helpful for students as they navigate their lives during the pandemic. 

“It’s a really niche thing to have a topic that touches so many people and yet is so subjective,” Cheramie said. “Designing your space to be more in alignment with the principles of hygge is so important, because people are living in places where they might not have a big opportunity to make their own right now.”

One of their most popular events was their mindfulness workshop, which featured a more psychological approach to explaining the topic; Bothra was able to share some of what she learned in a Scripps psychology class with professor Lahnna Catalino that centered around mindfulness. The club’s holiday events were also popular among members and included activities like creating advent calendars with mindfulness tips written for each day.

Although the ability to gather in close-knit settings — a primary component of hygge — is limited at this time, Hygge Club has managed to foster connections between members through their virtual gatherings.

In an upcoming event, attendees will recreate drinks from Scripps’ Motley Coffeehouse together via Zoom. Within the next few weeks, members can expect to see invitations to recipe swaps, baking nights, game nights and other activities that each feature a connected aspect of hygge.  

“We’re trying to make the experience a bit more immersive, especially for the first-years, because it’s so important for us to try and help them build community,” Cheramie said. “We want to try and make them feel as at-home as possible, and hygge is a really great way to do that.”

The club leaders meet once a week to discuss what is going on in the Scripps and 5C communities to see how they can connect their events to holidays, themes or general feelings that are present within the communities.

“We like to keep up with our members to make sure they are truly getting the full benefit of hygge and they understand how what we are doing connects so that it’s easier for them to incorporate into their daily life,” Cheramie said. 

Hygge Club is currently only open to Scripps students, but the founders hope that the other colleges take inspiration from their club and contact them with any questions or comments. 

To learn more about Hygge Club, visit their Facebook and Instagram, where they conduct outreach and post hygge-related resources. 

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