Follow the Scandinavians – Get Outside and Enjoy Yourself!
With winter darkness closing in and coronavirus limiting indoor socialising, it’s very understandable that you might want to pull your duvet over your head and simply hibernate until spring…
Surprisingly, there’s no real evidence that darker, colder weather should mean lower mood or less life satisfaction – For proof, look at the fact that Norwegians (who live in a country famous for their long, dark winters) were ranked as the fifth most happy nation in the world by the UN World Happiness Report!
Whether it’s joining friends for a picnic, going on a solo walk in woodland or an evening around a roaring firepit, the Scandinavians have mastered the art of “reframing” winter into a unique time of opportunities and enjoyment, called friluftsliv (pronounced free-loofts-liv), meaning literally “open air living”.
In the 1850s Norwegian playwright and poet, Henrik Ibsen, used the term to describe the benefit of spending time in remote locations for spiritual and physical wellbeing (the Japanese have a similar concept called “forest bathing”)… And this concept now has a special place in the heart of Scandi life!
“There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather, Only Bad Clothes”
Scandinavians take great pleasure in dispensing the above phrase to all rain-soaked, cold visitors, but it’s actually true – I can attest to this from 4 years of biology field trips and 10 years mainly outdoors in all weathers as an Environmental Consultant!
When you’re wrapped up in warm and weather-proof clothes, you can be just as comfortable as any other time of year. In fact, warming up in winter is easier than cooling down in summer!
So why not dress appropriately for the weather and get outside – We guarantee that even a little jaunt will leave you feeling refreshed, alert and with a feeling of wellbeing.
The Benefits are Amazing
In the words of Stephen S. Ilardi, PhD, associate professor of clinical psychology, University of Kansas, “EXERCISE is MEDICINE… It changes the brain and body in beneficial ways that are more powerful than any pill you can take. If you could capture that effect in a pill, that pill would become the best selling drug of all time… And people would pay any price to have it!”.
Sharing time with friends or family outdoors not only allows you to blow the cobwebs away and but allows a feeling of adventure and reconnection with nature.
Getting out of your head and into your body gives a great sense of grounding (something that Mindfulness meditation is proven to do) and also an opportunity for reinforcing that sense of community, that as tribal animals we need to stay well.
Move Over, Apple and Google
Way before the tech giants began to blow their own trumpets about their work perks, many Scandinavian employers incentivised their staff to spend time outside during their working hours.
Some companies block 90 minutes out of employees’ calendars once a week especially for Friluftsliv time! The majority of staff value this opportunity, heading out for some time in a green space or woodland.
Giving it a Go
If this sounds daunting to you, the first step is the most difficult – How about factoring a quick walk around your local area at lunchtime, or walk/ride to the shops instead of taking the car – Once you feel the benefits, you’ll find it a joy to extend your range in no time!
There’s almost sure to be some beautiful scenery nearby – Check out the “Maps” App on your phone for green spaces, or search on websites such as the National trust, the Forestry Commission, the Wildlife Trust or the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust.
And remember – You can always grab a friend and a flask of coffee if you’re feeling sociable!
Looking for Support in your Workplace?
Here at Boost Wellbeing – Hands on Health UK we know how important it is to keep your mind and body healthy.
Get in touch with us to learn how we can help you and your colleagues feel sane, satisfied and supported as the new normal continues to unfold.
Why not take a look at our other services, many of which can be delivered safely either in person or remotely.
Healthy Best Wishes – The Boost Wellbeing Team