Scandinavian Wellbeing Tips on Surviving Winter

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The UK may not get as dark and cold as Scandinavia in winter but it can still dampen your mood! We could all learn a lot from these Scandinavian winter traditions…

Have you ever been to Scandinavia in winter? We’ll let you in on a not-so-secret secret: it is really, really cold. In Finland a couple of Januaries ago, temperatures reached minus 26.

Though it doesn’t tend to get that cold here in the UK, winter can still get pretty icy and can seem long, bleak, and depressing. This is particularly true if you struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder, a kind of mood disorder that is worse in the winter months.

However, despite their far more extreme winters, Scandinavians tend to embrace the colder months with an infectious positivity. We could all stand to learn from our Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, and Finnish friends!

To that end, we’ve collated some of our favourite survival tips from Scandinavia to keep the winter blues at bay and keep you smiling until spring.

Wear the right clothes

There is a Swedish saying, “Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder”, which means “there is no bad weather, only bad clothes”.

In other words, get ready for winter by making sure you’ve got the right clothing. Finding yourself freezing to death on your walk to work? It’s time to invest in a good winter coat. Home office chilly this time of year? Get some big cosy sweaters, thick socks, and maybe some fingerless gloves you can wear while you type.

I know complaining about the weather is a traditionally British pastime, but you’ll be much happier if you embrace it by wearing the right gear to keep you warm and dry instead.

Embrace the concepts of Kakkukahvi and Fika

Kakkukahvi is a Finnish word, and fika a Swedish one, but these two Scandinavian words mean broadly the same thing: enjoying a cup of coffee and a piece of cake.

In Sweden, fika is much more than a simple coffee break. Sipping coffee while you type doesn’t count. It’s a ritual that’s all about pausing to indulge in something enjoyable and appreciate the small pleasures of life. Kakkukahvi in Finland is much the same principle. Both are sociable, companionable activities and best enjoyed with a friend, family member, or colleague.

P.S. If you don’t drink coffee, tea or hot chocolate are also great options for your Scandinavian afternoon break! Cinnamon rolls are the traditional fika snack in Sweden, but any tasty treat that warms your body and nourishes your soul is a great choice.

Be comfortable and kind to yourself with hygge

Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is a Danish term that has become trendy in Britain and other parts of the world these last few years. However, many people still aren’t entirely sure what it means.

A basic interpretation of hygge is about living comfortably and showing kindness towards yourself. It evokes a sense of cosiness and togetherness – of being in your home with your loved ones, warm and cosy while winter rages outside.

Though many brands have hijacked the concept of hygge to make sales, you don’t need to spend much or any money to recreate it yourself! Focus on cosiness, soft lighting, and warmth. Snuggle under a blanket, light some candles, and wrap up warm.

There’s also a similar Swedish term, mysig, which refers to making your home as cosy as possible during winter. Again, think blankets, candles, warming food and drink, and having your loved ones close. Your home should be a safe and comfortable place to keep you warm all through the winter.

Make your home beautiful with Tulpanens dag

Tulpanens dag literally translates to “tulip day” and refers to the Swedish tradition of keeping your home decorated with fresh flowers. Of course, they don’t have to be tulips – any bright, colourful flowers will do.

Winter can often seem bleak and colourless. By bringing flashes of bright colour into your home, you’ll keep it looking cheerful no matter what the weather is doing outside.

Fun fact: did you know that colours are proven to have an impact on our mood? Choose your flowers accordingly. Try some yellow for happiness, blue or pink for soothing and calming, and green for stress relief.

Give yourself a weekly self-care ritual with Fredagskos

Fredagskos is a Norwegian word meaning, roughly, “cosy Friday”. It’s a weekly winter ritual that involves enjoying tacos for dinner and then relaxing on the sofa in front of the TV with an assortment of snacks. (I promise this is a real thing! It sounds like some version of heaven to me.)

You don’t have to get this specific – though you can if you want to. But follow the spirit of fredagskos by creating a weekly ritual that helps you feel happy, relaxed, and taken care of.

Here in the UK, people tend to get the winter blues after Christmas and New Year are over, feeling as though there’s nothing to look forward to and still two months of winter to go. Giving yourself something to look forward to each week is an easy way to combat the January slump.

Be prepared

Perhaps the thing that struck me the most when I visited Finland in the depths of winter was the way that the Finns were completely unphased by the extreme weather. Temperatures in the minus twenties and four feet of snow? No problem!

The reason is obvious: Scandinavians are used to extreme weather, so everything – from their clothing to the “snow tires” on their cars to the insulating properties of their homes – is prepared for it.

The UK has a long way to go before we have anything close to that level of preparedness for intense cold and snow, of course. But by doing your own bit of preparation now, you can make winter easier when it comes. So whether you’re stocking up on fluffy blankets, digging out your daylight lamp, or grabbing a new warm coat (pro tip: winter sports shops have great sales out of season!), you can be ready for winter when it arrives.

Stay warm, and remember: there’s a reason Scandinavia is one of the happiest regions in the world.

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