Staying Healthy During Scandinavian Winters

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Staying Healthy During Scandinavian Winters

It’s no secret that Scandinavian winters are cold. From December to February, temperatures can easily dip to -20 Celsius. What’s the secret to Scandinavians staying healthy during Scandinavian winters?

Being able to maintain your physical and mental health during the winter, especially when it’s dark and cold, is crucial to staying content through the season.

There are many existing lifestyle practices that make Nordic countries excel in winter wellness, and they go far beyond just bundling up and lighting a fire. Whether you’re new to the Nordic lifestyle or you want to take a more holistic approach toward thriving during the Scandinavian winter, some of these practices can make a big difference.

By putting them in place this season, you might end up enjoying and embracing winter more than ever before.

Staying Healthy During Scandinavian Winters
Practicing self-care is important year-round. Illustration by American Heart Association.

Practicing Self-Care

With short, dark, cold days, it can be tempting to stay in bed and indulge in comfort food more often than not. While that’s okay on occasion, that kind of lifestyle for the whole season can leave you feeling down and depressed. Practicing self-care is important year-round. In the winter, however, certain aspects of it can be challenging. You might find it hard to be physically active when it’s cold outside. Additionally, your access to healthy food might be limited by transportation issues. Higher fuel prices can make it difficult for certain areas of the world to easily access healthy imported produce that comes from further away. When you are able to find healthy ingredients, they could be more costly and might not always fit into your budget.

As often as possible, source your food locally. Get in touch with local farmers and ranchers and you’ll know exactly where your food is coming from and how it was grown or raised. Not only will you likely pay less for local fare, but knowing where it comes from can give you peace of mind about sustainable living. You can also choose to grow or forage your own food and can or preserve it for the winter. The Scandinavian countryside has a wide variety of nutrient-rich berries that can be picked during warmer weather and frozen for later use, or made into sweet jams you can enjoy all winter long.

Even better, choose to spend some time outside. Being outdoors is great for your mental health, and there are plenty of winter activities that will get you moving.

Staying Healthy During Scandinavian Winters
Embrace your inner child with some fun winter sports. Photo: New York Presbyteran.

Get Out of the House

Embrace your inner child with some fun winter sports, and you won’t even realize you’re getting in a great workout that will keep you fit and healthy all season long.  Some fun activities that you could consider are :

  • Skiing
  • Snow-shoeing
  • Ice skating
  • Sledding

It is important to make sure you’re prioritizing hydration throughout the winter. It’s easy to assume you don’t need as much water when it’s cold out because you’re not sweating as much, but the effects of chronic dehydration can be devastating, leading to fatigue, muscle weakness, and even kidney problems.

If it’s too frigid to spend long periods of time outside, consider using technology to your advantage. There are thousands of free workout videos and programs online. Or, invest in indoor equipment like a spin bike or treadmill. You can watch your favorite shows and movies while breaking a sweat.

You can also choose to spend some time some time away from home, embracing local culture and communities. Many people actually head to Scandinavia in the winter as tourists because there’s so much to do and experience. Take advantage of unique opportunities like:

  • Dog sledding
  • Christmas markets
  • Viewing the Northern Lights
  • Staying in an ice hotel

Whether you’re in the area for a short time or you’ve recently moved and you’re trying to embrace the culture, putting yourself out there in winter is a great way to become acclimated to local communities and the practices and traditions that are so near and dear to so many Scandinavians.

Plus, winter is a great time to sample local cuisine and develop a deeper understanding of Scandinavian comfort food. You’ll also quickly learn how to dress for the weather and look more like a local! Layering up is often the best way to combat the cold temperatures, and you can always remove a layer or two if you get warm or head into a local restaurant or shop to rest and relax for a few minutes. It won’t take you long to embrace the winter if you’re willing to immerse yourself in your community.

Staying Healthy During Scandinavian Winters
hygge is a Danish practice that simply involves creating a cozy atmosphere at home. photo: O&H Danish Bakery.

Do What the Nordics Do

If you really want to make the most of a Scandinavian winter, consider adopting some of the practices that make the Nordic people so content with this season. For example, hygge is a Danish practice that simply involves creating a cozy atmosphere at home. Light some candles, invite a few friends over, and enjoy good food together.

Or, light a fire in the fireplace, curl up with a cozy blanket, and put on your favorite holiday film. The act of being comfortable, cozy, and content can go a long way in contributing to your mental health throughout the winter.

Scandinavians also have plenty of reasons to celebrate throughout the winter months. The celebration of St. Lucia’s Day, for example, causes communities to decorate for weeks, adding to the comfortable and cozy environment of the season. St. Lucia’s Day gives people the opportunity to get together with family and friends. It’s a day of feasting and fun and a fantastic way to embrace the season.

While Scandinavian winters can be harsh and cold, they can also be a lot of fun, and extremely comforting. Embrace the season, be mindful of your health and well-being, and it might end up being your favorite time of year.

Staying Healthy During Scandinavian Winters
Ainsley Lawrence

Staying healthy during Scandinavian winters, written dedicatedly for Daily Scandinavian by Ainsley Lawrence. Ainsley is a regular contributor to Daily Scandinavian. She is a freelance writer from the Pacific Northwest. Ainsley is interested in better living. through technology and education. She is frequently lost in a good book.

Feature image (on top): ©: Daniel Frank/Unsplash

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Journalist, PR and marketing consultant Tor Kjolberg has several degrees in marketing management. He started out as a marketing manager in Scandinavian companies and his last engagement before going solo was as director in one of Norway’s largest corporations. Tor realized early on that writing engaging stories was more efficient and far cheaper than paying for ads. He wrote hundreds of articles on products and services offered by the companies he worked for. Thus, he was attuned to the fact that storytelling was his passion.

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