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The College Girl’s Guide to Hygge

You know those moments when you’re bundled up in your favorite blanket, a cup of your favorite warm beverage beside you, reading a book or watching your favorite movie or just chatting with some friends, feeling like the coziest, happiest, carefree human being in the world? Well my friends, there’s a word for that: hygge. Pronounced “hoo-gah”, it’s a Danish word that embodies exactly those feelings. While there’s no direct English translation, the word that comes close is probably homey. While I’m sure many of us take part in hygge without realizing it, we may feel guilty as college students to take time for ourselves to do what makes up happy, cozy and content. Personally, I feel guilty any time I catch myself reading for pleasure instead of cracking into my textbooks. I’m here to tell you to stop feeling guilty and to rather embrace those moments. Hygge isn’t just a word in Danish, it’s a lifestyle. Considering that the Danish are among the happiest people in the world, it might be worth trying to incorporate hygge into our busy, stressful lives. For the sake of this article I read The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Miek Wiking, and what follows is a guide to how you can start making your life more hyggelig! (This word means hygge-like, and no, I cannot pronounce it). 


1. It’s All About the Lighting

First things first: the lighting. Lighting is an essential aspect of hygge. I find it incredibly hard to relax under harsh, artificial lighting like those in classrooms, and try to incorporate natural light into a space as much as I can. Wiking says that to create a relaxing, cozy, hyggelig space, dim lighting is preferable. Now don’t panic – this doesn’t mean you have to go buy a fancy new Danish lamp to achieve this effect. Rather, pay attention to the amount of lumens in your light bulbs the next time you’re out shopping. Lumens are the amount of light emitted from a light bulb, and fewer lumens = dimmer light. A standard 100-watt light bulb tends to have 1600 lumens, so you probably wanna look for something with a little less than that.

Another great way to incorporate dim light is to hang up fairy lights! I find that on evenings where I want to relax and don’t want to deal with harsh lighting, during just my fairy lights on (which are hung over my bed) adds just the right amount of light. You can get these virtually anywhere in the home decor department and pro tip: there are probably a TON of varieties now that it’s holiday season! 

2. Candles, candles, and more candles!

I don’t know about y’all, but candles are an essential part to my day. If I don’t light at least one Bath & Body Works candle per day, I’m gonna be real cranky. Not surprisingly, candles are also beloved by hygge-practicing Danes. In a survey, Danish citizens were asked how many candles are usually lit at once in their home, and nearly a third answered that there are usually more than five candles lit at one time. I need to step up my game.

So candles = hygge = cozy and comfy af, but what if you live in a dorm and can’t light candles? To get the same visual effect, salt lamps are a great alternative. Turn one on and plug in an air freshener, and you’ve basically recreated the candle-effect. 

3. Company

While I tend to think of hygge as me-time or alone time, Wiking emphasizes in his book that hygge is something that should also be practiced among friends. In my busy schedule, I try to grab coffee with a friend at least a week to get out of the campus bubble and catch up with a pal. So find your favorite, hyggelig coffee shop and meet up with that friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with. 


4. Food!

Treat yo’self! No, seriously! Denmark has higher-than-average levels of coffee and candy/sweets consumption, so I’m gonna take a leap here and say these are DEFINITELY linked to hygge and happiness. Now I’m not going to promote you go full blown Buddy the Elf and change your diet to consist primarily of sugar, but I do believe that there is no harm in treating yourself to favorite treat every once in a while. I find that after a long day, the first thing I do for myself is to make a cup of my favorite tea. Take care of your body but at the same time, don’t deny yourself completely of things that make you happy. 

5. Clothes

Personally I love the fact that pajamas have basically become acceptable attire on college campuses. Call it “athleisure” all you want…I’m basically just wearing my pajamas with socks and birkenstocks and maybe a scarf, if it’s cold. I find that the comfier I am in my clothes, the better I feel. According to Wiking in his book, “When it comes to Denmark, casual is key.” Here are the staples you need to create a hyggelig wardrobe:

1. Scarves – the thicker the better. My personal favorites are infinity scarves that I can wrap around my neck 10+ times. 

2. Layers, layers, layers – I take cardigans with me everywhere even if it’s 95 degrees because a) you never know and b) cardigans are just COZY.

3. Wool socks – socks and stocks – amirite?

4. Sweaters – duh. Pro tip: the men’s section at Goodwill has the BEST sweaters for the lowest price.

5. Leggings – I’ve added this one myself because LEGGINGS ARE PANTS OKAY.


And that’s it! Hopefully you’ve been inspired to start taking some time for yourself every day to enjoy quiet, cozy moments. With finals week coming up, I promise that utilizing some of these types will make the week much less miserable! 

19-year-old intersectional feminist on a mission to spread love and encourage girls to embrace their sexuality and bodies. Also on the mission to find the most delicious cup of coffee.
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