I'm a writer, Youtuber, photographer. and old-fashioned romantic in love with celebrating the simple joys of daily life. I appreciate timelessness, the natural world, and a slow life lived with simplicity and intention. When I'm not photographing families or  slowly traveling the world and writing about it in a little notebook, I'm happily grounding myself in nature and cozying up with my sweet husband.

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How to Hygge in Summer

For many of us that celebrate a hygge lifestyle, summer is often the hardest season to feel cozy. Depending on where you are in the world, the summer can be long, hot and very humid. The light seems harsher, the colors of the leaves are less soft but more filled with contrast…and personally, as an artist, I’m not super inspired by the colors of summer compared to other seasons.

Many hygge enthusiasts like myself are counting down the days until Autumn. We pump up the AC, bring out the fuzzy throws and cozy on in with a feel-good fiction read. Some are even turning on the Hallmark channel or cozy Netflix log to set the mood!

But in celebration of where we are in the present moment, here are a few of my favorite hygge lifestyle activities that I’ve been doing this summer.

What is Hygge?

Hygge is a Danish and Norwegian word for a feeling of coziness, contentment and wellbeing. It’s often linked with warm blankets, candles and spending time connecting with people you love. Think minimal screen time and more in-person connection.

Basically, hygge = cozy.

My Favorite Hygge Activities to Do in Summer

 

Summer is my least favorite season of the year, but this year I’m challenging myself to enjoy the small delights and simple joys that summer can bring like longer days, more natural light, abundant plant life and animal sightings!

Here are my favorite wholesome, hygge activities to do in summer:

1.Wild Berry Picking

There is truly nothing more wholesome and whimsical than picking wild berries from a bush in nature. Every time I go collect raspberries and blackberries in the forest near my house, I feel like Briar Rose! Feel totally free to hum some tunes and sing to the birds as you go. 

2. Go Beachcombing

Whether it’s a local beach, river or creek in the forest, go wade in the cool waters and collect some driftwood, shells and rocks – anything that is of particular value to you! I love to feel connected in nature and foraging for twigs, leaves and natural rocks is one of my favorite ways to ground myself. You may even enjoy collecting wildflowers and pressing them into your journal!

3. Kayaking and Canoeing

Rent a kayak or canoe for a few hours and enjoy the sights from the water! In Strasbourg, we have a local outdoor recreational center that rents out kayaks and canoes and for $20, we can rent a canoe for the afternoon! Bring a picnic with your favorite snacks (lots of fresh French cheeses are always stocked in our picnic basket) and a wide-brimmed sunhat to protect your face from the sun rays!

4. Take a Late Evening Stroll

Warm summer evenings and the abundant light is such a delightful simple joy and what better way to celebrate the summer’s vibrant colors than enjoying a late evening stroll! This is perhaps my absolute favorite slow living, hygge activity to do in the summertime. I absolutely love walking – it’s my favorite way to exercise!  Wear a long summer’s dress, let the summer breeze flow you in a direction, and pretend you’re Lizzy Bennett. 

5. Read a physical book on the grass or front porch

Find a spot in a cool shady patch of grass, or your front porch or balcony if you have one, and delight in an adventure story or delicious fiction read! Summer is my favorite time to make a reading list, and I love to enjoy fiction during the relaxing summer months, preferably sitting under a large tree or next to some wildflowers. My husband loves to make fresh lemonade in the summer months, so I like to sipit as I enter another world. 

6. Camping and stargazing

Gazing up at the stars is a deeply humbling experiencing. Whether you’re observing that cloudy stretch of hazy Milky Way or attempting to count the millions of stars when up in the mountains, there is this feeling of presence and magic that the stars and planets can offer us. I love to go camping in the summertime for this reason. I’m not a big fan of sleeping outdoors, but when an opportunity to sleep under the night sky and marvel at the mysteries of infinite space, I never say no! It’s too magical and mystical of an experience to pass up.

7. Have a picnic and bbq with friends

Hygge is about this cozy feeling of being around people that make you feel appreciative. And what better way to celebrate hygge in the summer than to have an outdoor picnic or bbq with friends!

In France, bbqs and picnics are 4-course affairs, with snacks in the beginning, fish / protein and veggies in the middle, an assortment of local French cheeses next and sweet dessert and coffee to finish it off. But wherever you are in the world, as long as you are spending your time with delicious food and people that bring you a feeling of warm fuzzies and cozy appreciation and gratitude, that is what counts!

If you’re in a city, see if a friend has a rooftop or a sprinkler system / slip-n-slide and throw a block party!

8. Take a road trip to a small town or village nearby

Opt for a short day-trip to a nearby local village or small town and explore! If you can, slide open the roof and wave your hands out in the summer breeze! It’s the simple delights of road tripping that always leaves us with the most joy in that moment. Maybe you’ll find a cozy diner to enjoy some breakfast on the road (my husband and I ADORE old-fashioned American diners!) or a local museum on the small town’s history that you’re passing through. Stop by the local City Hall or bakery to get to know the personal stories of the places you’re experiencing and ask a local sitting next to you “What’s the wifi password” to start a conversation with someone! Who knows where it could lead to!

As someone who enjoys slow travel, venturing to nearby villages and spending enough time in one place to really get to the know it is my favorite way to travel in the summer months. 

9. Go bike riding

Whether it’s a rental or your own bike, feel the breeze in your hair and explore life around you! Bike riding is a slower way to take in the world. 

10. Gardening

Plant some flowers and watch them bloom. Connect with the soil and feel the rootedness of the Earth beneath your bare feet.  I’m not driven or patient enough to garden yet, but by simply placing your hand on the bark of a tree or doing a few activities that connect and ground you with the Earth is a beautiful way to feel cozy this summer.

11. Make jam or start canning

It’s an old-fashioned but classic way to use your hands and start making things! And what can be more wholesome and hygge in the summer than canning your own vegetables or making your own jam?

12. Take a relaxing dip in the jacuzzi!

Ahhh….jacuzzi time is a joyful time! Don’t follow my lead: sneaking into hotel pools is not for everyone. But if you have a local pool or spa area, treat yourself and enjoy the power and soothing qualities of hot water!

13. Go tubing in the river

Tubing is such a fun way add some exhilaration, adventure and peace to your summer’s day. And it can definitely be hygge! Take up a temporary residence near a lake, a babbling brook, or even the ocean, and settle in to watch the water’s elegant movements. Perhaps you’ll even find some nearby fairies! 🙂

14. Hiking

What better way to celebrate a hygge summer than getting outdoors, climbing a mountain and following a scraggly, dirt-path to somewhere new and exciting! 

15. Pretend it’s Winter 🙂

If you’re really craving some old-fashioned, hygge time this summer – I don’t blame you! – pretend it’s a chilly, blustery day and crank up that AC, wrap yourself up in some blankets and some cozy knit socks and settle in with a Christmas Hallmark movie. No shame, I’ve been there. 🙂

girl reading against tree sharing how to hygge in summer

 

How I’ve been Celebrating a Hygge Lifestyle this Summer

The summer of 2020 has been a busy one for my husband and me. In between getting ready for our move to the island of Corsica in August and saving up for all the additional costs of moving to a new house, I began working fulltime for two months, babysitting for a family I adore. Because my “work” (if I would even call it “work”, as it is so much fun!) schedule has been 9am to 7pm, I only have a few hours each evening to live slowly at home doing the hobbies I enjoy, like journaling, letter-writing, filmmaking, photography and playing cards and rummikub with my husband.

But on top of that, I’m tapping into this new world called Youtube….which has felt like a full-time job in itself. In this season, I’m trying to find a balance of making weekly films, staying on top of my writing and photography work, and living a simple, private and slow life at home. 

Juggling them all has felt challenging at times and effortless in others.

But I’ve been able to slow down and live a more intentional and hygge lifestyle despite my busy summer by scheduling and prioritizing what is most essential to me. I make plans for things that are important like camping trips and evening strolls in the fields. And I let go of the unnecessary. I let go of what is not beneficial or essential to my vitality and my well-being.

I deliberately choose to thrive slowly, not survive busily. 

I hope that, despite how busy you are, you take time to look at some wildflowers, look up at the night sky and marvel at the simplicity and wonder of it all. 

Love,

Helena 🙂

If you’d like to my summer in video form, click here to see how I do hygge in summer! 

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How to Hygge in Summer: 15 Wholesome Activities to Do This Summer

July 30, 2020

  1. Pam says:

    oh my goodness dear Helena 🙂 It is I who thanks you so from the bottom of my heart! Your warmth & kindness are expressed so sweetly & naturally ~ you are a doll! Forgive me for replying again ~ it’s just that your words are so wonderfully kind & happy & you wish & enjoy goodness for others! That is a precious gift! Thank you again for delighting my heart with your dear special heart ~ wishing you both joy & goodness & happiness & all the precious simple lil things to love! Take the best care 🙂 Sincerely ~ Pam 🙂 Howie xo 🙂 & Heather Joy xo 🙂

  2. Pam says:

    Dear Helena 🙂 You are indeed precious & dear & sweet & have such a delightful heart! I love simple joys in our life with all my heart ~ & to hear you express it with such beauty & eloquence is a treasure! Thank you ever so much! Your video is full of happiness & joy 🙂 & exudes peace. Your heart is so dear & you have wisdom beyond your years. You have that childlike magic ~ that we hold so dear in our hearts! 🙂 I adore France & Hygge. My photography I adore with all my heart ~ as it’s magical! Along with my precious husband xo & our darling lil loving pet xo ~ & our cozy lil cottage & flower garden ~ this is my peaceful Hygge. Thank you ever so much & sending you happiness & joy! Sincerely ~ Pam:) Howie 🙂 & Heather Joy 🙂

    • helenawoods says:

      Hello Pam!! 🙂 Aw! your comment made me so giddy – you are very kind-hearted, supportive and so generous with your loving words. I so appreciate your kindness and encouragement in my sharing of the simple joys. It brings a lot of joy to hear that you resonate with these ideas and oh my – what a magical life you live! How wonderful to hear you enjoy a beautiful life with your husband, pet, garden and cottage – that is such a DREAM life! Thank you, Pam, Howie and Heather Joy <3 🙂

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I'm Helena! As a creative storyteller, I document magical, emotionally honest family and children's portraiture. A lover of childhood, fairytales and natural light, I photograph families across the world. I'm the ultimate Disney nerd, and I'm obsessed with cats and expressing my love for the simple joys of slow, daily life.

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Helena Woods is a destination newborn and family photographer based in France and New England and travels worldwide. She is known for her natural light, modern classic, and emotive photography style.

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