Let’s face it, all the best wellness concepts come from the Scandinavian countries. Hygge, Lagom, Fika… seriously, for a nation who has a lot less daylight hours than most of the rest of the world they certainly know how to look after themselves. The latest Scandinavian lifestyle practice to hit our wellness radar is Friluftsliving and we’re going to find out a little bit more about it and discover why we could all do with embracing this Nordic way of life.
What Is Friluftsliving?
Stemming from the Norwegian word friluftsliv (pronounced free-loofts-liv), Friluftsliving means to ‘live in the free air’. The idea behind it is that we should all be aiming to spend as much of our time as possible outside in the fresh air, connecting with nature, and embracing outdoor living. And don’t go thinking this is something that should only be done on a gorgeously sunny, warm summer’s day. No, this is all about embracing the elements, no matter what they might be!
At the very heart of Friluftsliving is our connection with nature. It’s a kind of al fresco minimalism if you like; a stripping down, back to basics philosophy that enables us to gain clarity, tranquillity, and to reconnect with ourselves. It was the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen who first coined the phrase back in the 1850s. He described friluftsliv as spending time in remote locations for the purpose of spiritual and physical wellbeing, and that remains the case today.
There are no restrictions, no exclusions to this, absolutely anyone can embrace the friluftsliv. Age, physical fitness, financial situation… none of these matter. This is for anybody and everybody. Yes, you can take it to its limit and take on a new high octane outdoor pursuit like skiing or ziplining, but you don’t have to. Walking, sitting and listening to birdsong, gardening, are all fine examples of what Friluftsliving is about. This philosophy is about finding a minimalist form of recreation within our beautiful natural world, that allows us to disconnect from the hubbub and stresses of our man made one.
How To Embrace Friluftsliving
To the Norwegians, Friluftsliving comes as second nature; they don’t have to give it too much thought, it is just within them. But for us less hardy folk, the idea of heading outside when it’s cold, wet and blowing a hooley, is quite frankly unimaginable. As British author Alfred Wainwright famously wrote however, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”.
Remember, Friluftsliving can be anything you want it to be, it doesn’t have to be some grand plan or strenuous activity. It could literally be going for a picnic with the family, or inviting friends round for an evening sat around a chimenea while putting the world to rights, it could even be taking the dog out for a walk, or sitting in a park somewhere. As long as it’s outside, it counts as Friluftsliving. To help motivate you to get on out there, we’ve put together a few tips to help you embrace the outdoorsy life:
- Layer Up – British weather is a joke. One minute it’s sunny, the next it’s raining, and don’t get me started on what the temperature’s doing. So, the only way to not let it beat you is by wearing layers that you can easily take on and off as required. A good rule of thumb is 1 waterproof layer, 1 zipped fleece or hoodie, 1 long sleeved layer, and 1 vest.
- Pack A Snack – Come on, if a tasty treat isn’t enough to encourage you outside then I’m not sure what will! Take a hot drink in a flask with you too as this will help warm you up.
- Turn Your Garden Into A Cosy Haven – Evenings can be chilly, but what a shame to let that put you off spending time in your garden. Kit yourself out with cosy blankets and cushions and invest in a patio heater or fire pit to keep the cold at bay.
- Wonder At The World – This is what Friluftsliving is all about – noticing and being in awe of the natural world. Take yourself out on a walk and pay close attention to your surroundings. What sounds can you hear? What trees/plants/natural features do you see? Look at how the light shines through the trees. Marvel at the morning dew. Listen to the crunch of the leaves beneath your feet. Allow yourself to be held in the moment, just you and nature sharing that moment together.
- Take Your Time – This is your time, so make sure to take your time and don’t be rushed. Walk at leisure, sip your tea slowly in the garden, read a book in a hammock and fall asleep if you want to. This is about going with the flow and not fighting it.
- Make It Fun – If you’re a parent you’ll know how hard it can be to persuade your beloved kids to go out for a walk. Heaven forbid they leave their screens for any length of time! To make it more appealing turn the walk into a game. Create a scavenger hunt, play hide and seek, build a den. There are so many great games and activities you can do as a family outside, so embrace your own inner child and learn how to play again.
Why Is Friluftsliving Good For Us?
There are so many ways in which spending time in nature can be good for us. I’m sure you know from experience how good it feels when you’ve spent time outside and it’s even more noticeable in kids.
Here are some of the health and wellbeing benefits you can expect to get from increasing the amount of time you spend outdoors:
- Improved mood
- Improved physical health
- Connection with nature and with the local community
- Increased self-awareness
- Reduced stress levels
- Lowers blood pressure
- Ups your vitamin D levels, which helps boost your immunity
- Lessens anxiety
- Improves sleep
- Makes you feel good
- Boosts creativity
- Improves focus
There’s a reason Norwegians are one of the happiest nations in the world, and Friluftsliving is most definitely playing a part. We must learn to slow down, to switch off, and to shift our mindsets if we expect to feel as good as we possibly can in our mind, body, and souls. And this is such a simple way to start living our best friluftsliv.
Becky Stafferton is a content creator, full time procrastinator and mum of 2 kids and 1 aggy cockapoo. She tries to promote a realistic, sustainable, and positive image of how to lead a healthy life, whilst also maintaining the fact that life ain’t all fluffy clouds and rainbows. When she’s not writing or sitting on her arse scrolling through social media, she can be found running through muddy puddles, making lists of lists, having a good old moan, doing random Google searches, and squatting like her life depends on it.