Why being cozy is good for your health - experts reveal the benefits

Light candles, dim the lights and curl up with a good book without feeling guilty for not exercising...

Reading a paperback book by an open fire in a cosy hygge inspired English living room with a hot drink and blanket (throw) on an autumn night
(Image credit: Deborah Vernon / Alamy Stock Photo)

It's that time of year when the cold weather outside makes us want to hibernate indoors by the fireplace or under a blanket or duvet. 

But as more of us look to making our homes cozier - either by buying one of the best scented candles or turning a disused space into a perfect snug hideaway - you don't need to feel guilty for splurging on your relaxation space.

As experts believe being cozy is actually good for your health. Professor of coaching and positive psychology at the University of East London, Christian van Nieuwerburgh, explained how some sensory experiences trigger different feelings in the body.

He said: “Some aspects seem to relate more to evolutionary psychology. The smell of fresh bread, a crackling log fire, and the hug are indicators of safety and we would unconsciously be drawn to them because they are good for our survival - the existence of sufficient food, knowing that it will be possible to stay warm, and being with someone who will protect you."  

Professor Nieuwerburgh continued, "This is especially true during the harsh winter months. In other words, human beings may be drawn to coziness because it is indicative of having a safe, warm place to shelter from the elements.” 

And a new poll from holiday home operator, Park Leisure, looked at all five senses and what makes people feel the coziest to reveal the equation for ultimate coziness with a crackling fire voted as the nation’s coziest sight and sound...

      

Focusing on the five senses, a perfect cozy combination is:  

  • a tasty hot chocolate
  • seeing and hearing a crackling log fire
  • a hug from a loved one
  • the smell of fresh bread

When asked about the coziest scents, fresh bread came out on top (15%), followed by a log fire (13%) and cinnamon (11%). 

A crackling log fire was pitted as both the coziest sight (29%) and sound (25%). 

More than one in six (17%) say that a hug is the coziest sensation. Meanwhile, the top five coziest tastes were voted as hot chocolate (16%), roast dinner (15%), winter stew (14%), a cup of tea (10%), and coffee (8%). 

Professor Nieuwerburgh added: “According to a leading theory of wellbeing, human beings need positive emotions and relationships to thrive. So, the hot chocolate can provide a fleeting positive emotion, and a hug from a loved one would provide evidence of a positive relationship.”  

Lisa Williams, director of marketing and holiday sales at Park Leisure, agreed with the findings. She said: "There’s nothing better than feeling cozy and snuggling up with your loved ones in your holiday home when it’s cold outside. The data on the coziest senses is really interesting to see, and I couldn’t agree more with the ultimate cozy combination."

Selina Maycock
Selina Maycock

Selina is a Senior Entertainment Writer with more than 14 years of experience in newspapers and magazines. She currently looks after all things Entertainment for GoodtoKnow, Woman&Home and My Imperfect Life.

Before joining Future Publishing, Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism. She is fully NCTJ and NCE qualified and has 100wpm shorthand. Having spent the start of her career working on local newspapers and online, Selina spent six years as Acting News Editor and Entertainment Reporter at the Scunthorpe Telegraph where she dug into hard news stories, conducted interviews, covered court reporting, features, and entertainment, whilst going to gigs in her spare time.

Whilst at the paper she was awarded an O2 Media Judges' Special Award for helping a terminally ill cancer sufferer realise his dying wish and marry his childhood sweetheart through a successful newspaper campaign. Things like this are close to her heart when it comes to using journalism to make a positive difference in people's lives.

Selina later branched further into all things celebrity to became a Showbiz Writer at Heat magazine, covering red carpet events, showbiz parties, and various launches before going freelance for two years. One of her biggest celebrity achievements - aside from generating celebrity exclusives - was interviewing Take That (including Robbie Williams) and bumping into Simon Cowell so much at events she told him 'I'm calling you my showbiz dad!'

In 2017 she joined TI Media as a senior reporter on Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, Woman's Weekly celebrity desk before branching online in 2020 when Future gave her the opportunity to focus on digital-first.

When she's not interviewing celebrities you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories.