This year has not been easy on humanity so far and things will probably not get better now that Autumn and Winter are upon us. Social Distancing was fairly easy during the Summer months, when terraces and open air activities were all around us, yet now that the weather is changing, it becomes more challenging. No need to feel blue though, because even during a pandemic you can enjoy some time off away from home, maybe even accompanied by some friends depending on the measures taken in your country. Small yet pleasant getaways close to home are the answer to Covid-19 tiredness and the Norwegians show us how to do so.
Norway is one of the happiest countries in the world and at first sight, you might wonder why. Their Winters are long and filled with darkness, not to speak of the cold temperatures. Yet once again, their mindset is all that counts. A very important and typical aspect of Norwegian life is something called friluftsliv – a concept that might get you through the last months of 2020 after all.
1. Free-air life
Literally translated, friluftsliv means as much as ‘free-air life’. Strange, you might think, but that is where you are wrong. “For Norwegians, friluftsliv is less about what you do and more about where you are. For me, it is about disconnecting from daily stress, being part of the cultural ‘we’ and existing in what I call nature – an ‘escape room,'” Lasse Heimdal, general secretary of the Norwegian Association for Outdoor Organisations, told The Guardian.
Okay, fair enough, yet what do you do while friluftsliv’ing? Well, you go hiking, fishing, berry picking, camping… The activity in itself does not really matter, what is really important is the fact that you are spending time in nature and that you are not isolating yourself from everything and everyone in your little city apartment. Something a lot of us are guilty of as of late, since partying and a lot of other social happenings are being suspended. For Norwegians, getting surrounded by nature is something that comes naturally though. They go out approximately three times per week on a friluftsliv-trip and the Covid-19 pandemic only made the practice more popular.
2. Little changes
Now that the colder months are approaching, you might be tempted to just snuggle up in your blanket and camp on your couch instead of setting up your tent in the woods. Understandable, yet maybe it is time to change things. If the Norwegians can go out and do some friluftsliv’ing during Winter, so can you, as you are probably living in a more moderate climate than they are. And no, you do not have to make a multiple-day hike in order to enjoy the benefits of the ‘free-air life’. It would not hurt of course but there are lots of other options. Maybe you can go for an Autumnal walk in the forest with your best friend, maybe you could take a random train with your partner, get off at a place that looks beautiful and wander around. Even going to your local park and enjoying a hot coffee while taking in the changing nature around you could count as a dose of friluftsliv.
3. Be prepared
Of course, getting outside during the colder months means you have to be prepared. “We have a saying in Sweden ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes’”, Tina Holm, a scientist, told Worklife. So you better get those hiking boots and that warm jacket out of your wardrobe. If you are looking to organize a wintery picnic in the woods, it may also be a good idea to take a couple of warm blankets with you. Other than that, it is up to you: maybe some warm coffee? Pocket warmers? Something to make a campfire (if that is allowed, of course)? You can make things as snuggly and cozy as you want to, there are no rules whatsoever about how exactly you live your friluftsliv.
All in all, friluftsliv is a way of living that could be adopted by all of us. You just have to want it and do the effort of getting out of your home. Soon enough, you will feel the benefits of the lifestyle and you will never want to go back to your old habits. Due – or thanks – to Covid-19, tons of people have already started to reconnect with nature. Camping trips are the new all-in holidays, going for a picnic outdoors is more popular than ever and we have all discovered how important it is to get some fresh air in order to remain fresh in our heads. Let’s take those good habits with us into Winter and maybe the pandemic will create something beautiful after all.