It’s easy to look at images of a Scandinavian winter and feel a sense of peace and tranquility. The cold temperatures, the freshly-fallen snow, and the beautiful way Nordic countries embrace and celebrate the holiday season — they’re all great thoughts. However, above the Arctic Circle, temperatures can dip below 30 degrees Celsius in the winter. Learn more about what Scandinavians have to teach the world about winter.
Needless to say, you have to know how to get through winter the right way to deal with those freezing temperatures.
For most of us, the colder months mean more time inside, irritable and depressed moods, and even higher levels of illness, depending on where you live. Add that to the stress of the holiday season, and it’s no wonder why so many people struggle through the winter months.
So, what can we learn from Scandinavian countries? How can we embrace some of the ways they do things to make winter more memorable and enjoyable? Let’s cover a few tried and true ideas.
Learn more about what Scandinavians have to teach the world about winter – more below..
Make Winter Work for You
One of the best ways Scandinavians embrace the colder months is by living a “hygge” lifestyle. It’s a Norwegian term that refers to finding comfort and pleasure. It’s used to describe a mood of “coziness” throughout the winter months. For you, that might mean things like:
- Lighting a fire in the fireplace
- Putting on a warm sweater
- Using thick, warm blankets
- Enjoying a warm beverage
Consider decorating your home for the holidays or the winter months, in general, and embrace the cozy feeling it can provide. When your home offers a warm and welcoming contrast to the cold weather outside, you’re more likely to feel safe and content.
It’s also important to celebrate certain traditions throughout the winter months. In the U.S., that typically means acknowledging holidays like Christmas or Hanukkah. In Scandinavia, they celebrate St. Lucia’s Day on December 13th. It’s a day of feasting, but most communities spend days (or weeks) decorating beforehand, filling their homes with lights and candles. This also evokes a sense of coziness but gives them something to look forward to and celebrate in the middle of the winter season.
You don’t necessarily have to celebrate a holiday to make winter more enjoyable. However, you should find small ways to celebrate the everyday. Light candles or hang lights to make your home feel brighter. Cook a special meal. Splurge on something for yourself. Finding small ways to celebrate can make the season seem shorter, and more fun.
Embrace the Outdoors
You might not be a cold-weather person, but there’s no denying that there’s plenty of beauty in winter. Spending time outside is a fantastic way to embrace that beauty while staying physically active.
Think like a Norwegian and embrace the concept of friluftsliv – a love of the outdoors. Spending time outside doing things you enjoy can change your perspective on winter, and you might end up picking up a new hobby.
Consider trying things you can only do in winter, including:
- Cross-country skiing
- Ice skating
- Snow shoeing
You could even take up a winter sport, like snowboarding or downhill skiing. If you’re having a hard time finding the energy to get up and moving outdoors, consider what might be causing you to feel so fatigued. Everything from a decline in your mental health and relationship issues to your diet and stress can lead to a lack of energy. When you get to the root cause, you’ll have an easier time finding the motivation to bundle up and go on an outdoor adventure. You’ll also be more likely to take care of yourself throughout the season.
Maintain Your Mental Health
Speaking of taking care of yourself, it’s extremely important to manage your mental health throughout the winter. It’s estimated that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) impacts 10 million Americans, causing symptoms like sadness and sluggishness.
All of the suggestions listed here can help you maintain a more positive headspace throughout the winter months. Many Scandinavian people develop a “positive winter mindset” to get them through the season. You might have developed thinking and behavioral patterns over the years that have contributed to SAD. Changing your perspective on winter, choosing to make it special, and staying warm can give you a completely different outlook on the season. Don’t isolate yourself or spend too much time alone indoors. While cultivating a cozy environment at home is important, winter isn’t a time to give up social interaction just because it’s cold. It’s a time to reconnect with friends and family and find happiness in those connections.
It won’t make the days any warmer or longer, and you’ll still have to make your way through the cold when you step outside. However, by finding reasons to celebrate, staying positive, and embracing a cozy atmosphere as much as possible, you’ll be able to get through the winter like a true Scandinavian. You might even end up enjoying the season more than you ever thought possible.
What Scandinavians Have to Teach the World About Winter, written exclusively for Daily Scandinavian by Ainsley Lawrence. Ainsley is a freelance writer from the Pacific Northwest. She is interested in better living through technology and education. She is frequently lost in a good book.
Also written by Ainsley Lawrence:
Tips for Achieving a Sustainable Scandinavian-Inspired Home
Prioritizing Health and Safety on Your Next Scandinavian Vacation
Feature image (on top): © Pexels