Hygge was the word of the moment in 2016, but we’ve found the Scandinavian lifestyle trend we all want to try this winter – and it’s called friluftsliv.
While they could teach us to pronounce it correctly (it’s ‘free-loofts-liv’, apparently), Scandinavians would actually scoff at trendifying what’s been an intrinsic part of Swedish, Danish and Norwegian culture for almost a century.
Popularised in the 1950s by Norwegian playwright and poet, Henrik Ibsen, when translated to English, friluftsliv literally means ‘free air life’ or ‘open air living’.
Although it’s a fancy foreign word, the concept is universal: it’s about spending time in nature – and communing with it. Breathing in some fresh air, unwinding, and moving your body to improve your mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing.
This can include anything from a lunchtime run outside to commuting to work by bike or spending weekends in the countryside with friends.
In Sweden and Norway, in particular, the concept is so embedded in culture that some companies even build it into the working week with enlightened employers incentivising their staff to spend time outside.
Although your boss might not be urging you to go and hike in a forest this lunchtime, there are plenty of ways to bring friluftsliv into your weekends. And don’t be put off by a bad weather forecast because, as the Swedes say: “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes”.
The ultimate aim is to get a sense of nature into your life in order to feel more at home with yourself. So, how can you achieve friluftsliv if you live in a city or urban area or don’t have enough time for three-hour hike up a mountain?
Take a walk to your local park.
This is the easiest way to get outside – and something that everyone should be able to do regardless of where they live. Even if it’s only for 15-20 minutes, the fresh air and exercise will make a difference to the way you feel.
Take a flask of tea outside.
If you’re struggling with the cold, then why not take a flask of hot drink out with you? Whether you just go and sit in your garden or go on a longer walk, not only will it keep you warm but it is likely to keep you out for longer!
Open all your windows and fill the house with fresh air.
It might be cold (and make you want to turn the thermostat all the way up) but there is nothing as instantly-rejuvenating as a house filled with crisp, fresh air.
Go foraging in a wooded area.
Mushrooms, blackberries, whatever is in season. Just make sure you know what you’ve picked before you put it in your mouth...
Play sports outside.
Instead of going to the gym or a spinning class at the weekend, why not take a run outside? Layer up and enjoy the fresh air. If you’re not a runner, then why not ask a friend if they fancy a game of tennis or football.
Go to a lido or swimming ponds.
Okay, it might feel like the mercury has dropped too low to consider stripping down to your swimming costume, but at least you won’t have to fight the crowds to get into the water.