As the temperature continues to drop and we all brace for another potential fall snow storm – it’s easy to get filled with a sense of worry and anxiety about the winter months ahead and what they’ll hold.

Before you start hoarding canned goods and toilet paper to prepare not to leave your house for the next 6 months – we’d like to introduce you to a Norwegian word – Friluftsliv (pronounced – Free-loofts-liv).  Originally penned in the mid-1800’s by a Norwegian poet and playwright, the word “friluftsliv” roughly translates to “open air life” or “open aired living”.  Over the last century, throughout all of Scandinavia “friluftsliv” has become much more than just a word or phrase, but rather a lifestyle that their communities have adopted and made a part of their day-to-day.  With no surprise, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark are almost always included in the “top 10 happiest countries in the world”.  Coincidence?  We think not.  After all, many studies throughout the years have shown that getting out into nature helps both your physical and mental health. The great outdoors “enhances emotional well-being and alleviates feelings of social isolation. Besides, it also helps individuals suffering from mental health conditions like attention disorders, mood disorders, and different forms of anxiety” (1).

So what does friluftsliv(ing) look like practically?  To put it plainly – the lifestyle embraces the great outdoors, no matter the weather, and encourages you to simply get outside and do life. You don’t need to be a great explorer or into extreme winter sports, it can be as basic as bundling up and heading out for a walk around your block on a cold morning at sunrise. “For Norwegians, friluftsliv is less about what you do and more about where you are” stated Lasse Heimdal, Secretary General of Norsk Friluftsliv – an organization that represents more than 5,000 outdoors groups in Norway (2).

Like most things in life, a bit of preparation goes a long way – and when it comes to friluftsliv that is certainly the case.  Especially when it comes to your wardrobe.  As the old saying goes “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”.  While temperatures during a Minnesota winter can dip below 0°, it is usually nothing that a good pair of long underwear and some insulated outerwear can’t combat.  “Put enough clothes on so that you won’t become wet or freeze, and go out! Go to the nearest spot around you that you like: in a park, at the harbor, along a river through the city, in the woods, on a rooftop where you get a good view. Take it in! Feel the temperature, the wind, the air.  Smell!   See!  And, importantly, bring hot coffee in your thermos”, stats Dr. Ida Solhaug, a psychology researcher at the University of Tromso (3).

Minnesota has a rich Scandinavian history, with more Scandinavian Americans here than anywhere else in the United States (4).  So we feel it only appropriate that we embrace friluftsliv(ing) and instead of being filled with anxious dread for the winter months ahead, let’s welcome the colder months with excitement and giddy anticipation.  No matter the weather (or temperature!) let’s make time to get outside, explore, seek beauty, have a beer outside on winter patio, breathe in the fresh chilled air, walk, run(!), gather around a fire with friends…or to put it simply…live a “free air life”.

Standby for options to friluftsliv along with us soon…