The Science of Hygge:

Cultivating Health and Happiness at Home Amidst External Crisis

Courtesy of

Joan Eileen Atkinson 


Founder, SpiritHouse Holistic Interiors

With the cheer of the holiday season behind us, the COVID-19 pandemic raging, and several more weeks of winter gloom ahead of us, many people are suffering from isolation, cabin fever, and a general malaise that rivals the normal winter blues.

And so, at a time when we cannot rely on our normal recreational activities and communities, we are left, more than ever, home alone.

Which begs the question: how do we make it through the rest of the season cooped up without going mad?

The answer, though simple, may surprise you.

Enter Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah), a Danish lifestyle approach that embraces sensory experience, intentional community, and all things "cozy." With their long, oppressively dark winters, hygge has developed into somewhat of a national coping mechanism for the Danes, used to fight off isolation, depression, and SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Indeed, hygge is so effective at creating and sustaining feelings of contentment that Denmark regularly ranks as the #1 happiest country on Earth.

But what IS Hygge? Well, the good news is that it ain't rocket science, folks.

In this workshop, we'll breakdown both the design elements and the lifestyle practices that have made hygge famous throughout the world. We'll draw on both design psychology and positive psychology to understand the why behind these seemingly simple shifts. And finally, we'll end with a discussion of how you can embrace hygge in your own life to cultivate the most content experience of home possible during this uniquely challenging winter season.

Joan Eileen Atkinson is a holistic interior designer fascinated by the intersection of consciousness and space. Her mission is to co-create interiors tailored to a person’s unique functional, emotional, mental, physical and spiritual needs, and ultimately help people “feel more at home at home.” Through her business, SpiritHouse Holistic Interiors, Joan Eileen specializes in coaching clients overwhelmed by dysfunctional spaces, choice paralysis, and lack of inspiration, with a special focus in helping womxn through times of transition (new home, new career, new child, empty-nest, loss, divorce).

After earning a degree in Middle Eastern Language & Culture from Barnard College, Joan Eileen went on to enjoy a career as an artist, dance teacher, choreographer, and performer. Eventually, however, her creative interests turned to design, and she went on to earn a Certificate in Custom Interior Design at Heritage School of Interior Design in Portland, Oregon. Since then, her passion for holistic, healthy homes has driven her studies of design psychology, modern Feng Shui, home organization, clutter clearing, and interior design, culminating in her unique methodology and the creation of SpiritHouse.

January 31, 2021 at 5:00pm - 7pm


Washington, DC
United States

Joan Atkinson

Janeen Antonelli Jessie Fuller Joelle Hood Kambiz Rahnavardy

Will you come?