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Scandinavian winter: How to survive winter Scandinavian style

Winter isn’t always a comfortable experience, depending on where you live. Darker days and colder weather create a sense of melancholy that can linger over an entire country.

However, if you visit the Nordic region, you’ll find that there’s a vastly different attitude towards winter. Scandinavian winter is a unique experience that’s much more light-hearted and fun than you’d expect from winters elsewhere in the world.

Interestingly, Scandinavian winters are often a lot harsher than the cold seasons elsewhere in the world. Some locations get up to 20 hours of darkness a day. Plus, temperatures drop to levels that would be practically impossible for many people to deal with.

So, how exactly to the Scandinavian people deal with such a difficult season?

Can we learn how to survive winter, Scandinavian style?

Let’s find out.

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How do the locals approach Scandinavian winter?

Before we jump into our guide of some of the best things you can do to handle winter the Scandinavian way, let’s explore how the locals deal with the sub-zero temperatures and dark days.

Although it’s difficult to say for sure how everyone in Scandinavia will handle colder days, the general attitude seems to be a lot better in the North than it is elsewhere in the world.

In Northern Europe, where Scandinavia lies, most people have grown up with cold-weather most of their lives. They’re used to the lack of daylight that can occur when the winter months appear, and they have all developed their own ways of coping.

Though some days can be tricky (like anywhere else in the world) Scandinavian people can appreciate winter for the benefits it brings. For instance, the roads are usually covered with snow — to the point where some people even ski to work.

Winter is also the perfect opportunity to embrace the concept of hygge. In other words, if you don’t want to get outside and walk around in the snow, then you can snuggle up indoors with a hot chocolate, a cup of coffee, or something else to warm your stomach.

Another huge benefit of Scandinavian winter is that it comes with some beautiful natural events. For instance, though you can see the Northern lights in various parts of Scandinavia at all times of the year, they’re more common around winter.

That’s because more hours of night mean that you have a wider space of time for the lights to appear.

For the Scandinavian people, winter is a time to get cozy and enjoy the wonders that their beautiful and unique landscape can bring.

Though outdoor adventures may slow down a little as the winter sets in, the Nordic people generally don’t mind getting active in the cold either. A lot of Nordic locals spend their winters on skiing tracks, and even exploring outdoor swimming pools.

Some people from Finland and Norway even like to visit a hot sauna in winter then jump in an ice-cold lake or pond afterwards.

How to survive winter Scandinavian style

Despite temperatures that drop much lower than anything you would expect elsewhere in Europe or the US, and the presence of long, dark days, Scandinavia appreciates winter for the memorable experiences it has to offer.

After all, you can only get a true skiing experience in winter or appreciate the warmth of an indoor fire when it’s snowing outside.

Cafes and restaurants during Norwegian winter and Danish winter often still offer outdoor seating throughout the colder months. However, you might notice furs and blankets to keep you warm.

There’s a common saying across the Nordic countries: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” This phrase encapsulates what it means to be Scandinavian during the winter.

So, how can people elsewhere in the world take a leaf from their Scandinavian’s cousin’s book?

The first thing to keep in mind is that Scandi people have spent a lifetime learning how to deal with the cold and the long nights.

Don’t be surprised if you still feel a little sad at times during the winter months. Learning how to survive winter the Scandinavian way takes time and dedication, but if you can do it correctly, then you might have a much cozier end to your year.

Tips for managing a rough Nordic winter

The key to a successful Scandinavian winter is usually the right attitude. In other words, you’ll need to focus on finding ways to stay as comfortable as possible in the cold dark days.

Remember, Scandinavian locals frequently appear at the top of the list for the world’s happiest countries. Part of the reason for this is the approach they take to “hygge” winter.

Hygge is a concept that involves embracing all things comfortable and warming — the things that make you feel relaxed and happy. As well as using hygge, Scandinavian people also believe in developing a sense of resilience to the weather.

Here’s how you can build up your strength to survive and thrive in the colder months.

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1. Invest in the right fashion

Scandinavian fashion is popular for a lot of reasons. This laid-back aesthetic with a stylish and minimalist approach works for a lot of people. However, during Scandinavian winter, the best clothes are practical too.

Icelandic sweaters, for example, feature a unique kind of wool that’s perfect for maintaining heat while keeping your body from sweating excessively. Outdoor clothes in Norway, Sweden and Denmark also feature waterproofing elements to protect from winter.

Try layering more clothing to give yourself a relaxed and warm outfit that you can adapt to suit your current status. Don’t forget to pay attention to your socks too. The Scandi people love having a good pair of thermal socks to warm their toes, whether they’re in the office or at home.

2. Try getting outdoors

For most people, the instinct during the colder months of the year is to get home and bundle up in the warmth.

This is definitely an idea that works with Scandinavian winter methods — but it’s worth enjoying the outdoors if you can too. Getting outside is a good way to fill your lungs with fresh air and find new ways to enjoy the season.

If you have the right clothing to help you, then you can go exploring without feeling too much of the chill. Go out and see how the world looks when it’s covered in an extra layer of snow.

Invest in some winter activities that can show you what this time of year is truly about, like skiing or ice-skating. A touch of nature helps you to stay calm and connected — so it’s a great way to handle winter blues.

3. Try hot and cold cycling

This might be a tough idea for some people to come to terms with — so don’t worry if you find it doesn’t work for you. Scandinavian people, particularly those dealing with Norwegian winter, feel it’s sometimes helpful to build resilience to the cold.

The way they do this is to take a hot bath or sit in a sauna, then plunge into an icy-cold pool. You could also just roll around in the snow.

According to some Nordic people, the sudden switch between hot and cold is a great way to refresh the senses and get a sudden adrenaline boost. You also get to increase your circulation and improve your immune system too.

Of course, not everyone is going to enjoy this rather extreme practice. If you’re not keen on the idea of plunging yourself into icy water regularly, just try running yourself more hot baths instead.

Soak for a while, and then allow yourself to dry off naturally when you step out of the bath for a few minutes.

4. Don’t replace, repair

One of the things that people love about Scandinavia is the approach it takes to practicality. If you look at concepts like Scandinavian minimalism and design, you’ll notice that everything has a distinct purpose.

Products in the Scandi world are built to last, and during winter, it can be a good idea to embrace this idea.

Rather than replacing things that break or tear during the winter months, teach yourself how to repair your items with sewing, knitting, and other DIY skills. There are tons of articles and videos online that can help you to get started here.

Taking a little time to gather the right materials will save you a lot of money on calling repairmen, and it also gives you a fun hobby to pursue when you’re at home.

The cool thing about this DIY approach is that it also helps you to be happier with the things that you have—rather than giving into retail therapy—which is something a lot of us do during the winter months.

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5. Leave work early

Okay, so this tip might not be possible for everyone — but it may be something you can consider if you work from home or have a more flexible employment status.

One of the things that helps the Danes, Swedes, and Norwegian locals to be some of the happiest people on earth, is the fact that they don’t take work too seriously.

It’s easy for many people in the western world to overwhelm themselves with work, even when they’re working from home. We stay on projects late into the night and even take our jobs home with us in the form of messages and meetings that we should be ignoring.

Even if you can’t finish work earlier than usual, it might be worth turning your phone notifications off when you get home. This will help you to separate your work and family life when you need some more home comfort.

How to enjoy a hygge winter

As mentioned above, many of the Scandinavian locals do well with the winter months because they know how to cope with colder weather and longer nights. However, they also have the right attitude to winter.

They focus on staying cozy and comfortable, rather than subjecting themselves to things they would rather not be doing. We could all benefit from spending a little more time on self-care during winter.

So, how do you create a hygge winter experience?

1. Use plenty of natural light

While it’s tempting to fill a room with artificial light during the winter months, man-made bulbs are often harsh and cold. That’s why most people during Danish winter and Swedish winter prefer to stick to candles instead.

The winter months are often defined by rooms filled with burning candles and real fireplaces that crackle away throughout the night.

If you need to invest in artificial light to brighten things up, you should look for warmer bulbs with a yellow illumination instead of white.

Switch entirely to candles during the later hours of the evening, as this will help you to adapt to the darkness and soothe yourself into sleep a lot faster.

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2. Drink plenty of hot drinks

Winter months in Scandinavia are often a time for lots of Christmas traditions, including the delicious drink of Glogg. However, if it’s not the right time of day for alcohol in your home yet, then you should at least be keeping yourself comfortable with plenty of hot drinks.

Scandi locals love drinking coffee all day long — but you can explore less caffeinated options if you prefer.

If coffee seems a bit much for you, then you can put your own twist on Danish culture with tea and other hot beverages instead. Many people in Denmark also use a cup of coffee as an opportunity to indulge their sweet tooth.

Having a delicious mug of java means also enjoying a sweet treat such as a pastry or a delectable saffron and raisin bun.

Obviously, if you’re watching your weight during the holiday season, you’ll need to be cautious about exactly how many treats you eat. Just don’t be afraid to indulge from time to time.

3. Exercise more often

A lot of the tips for a hygge winter that we’ve mentioned above are all about relaxing and enjoying the finer things in life. For some people, that might seem a little lazy, but don’t worry.

Surviving winter the Scandinavian way isn’t just about using saunas to relax your muscles and flush out toxins. You can also visit local health centers and gyms for a bit of a workout too.

Getting plenty of exercise into your routine during the winter months is an excellent way to give yourself an extra shot of endorphins when you need it most. It’s even better if you can get involved with a club or team.

The Swedish sports confederation says that almost half of the 9.4 million residents belong to a club or team.

Since research tells us that exercise helps to alleviate stress and depression, it’s also a fantastic way to chase off the winter blues. If you can get outside and enjoy some nature while you’re at it — then you’re in an even better position.

4. Cozy up

A hygge winter is all about staying as cozy and comfortable as possible. The Danish concept of hygge often translates to coziness and comfortable experiences that contribute to an overall sense of wellbeing.

Although there’s no one definition for hygge, the general idea is that you find a way to make yourself feel as warm and fuzzy as possible.

Lots of blankets and warm furs are a good choice (you can go for faux furs to stay cruelty-free). If you’re looking for a way to remind yourself of the spring and warmer months, you can also add some fresh-cut flowers around the house.

This is a common practice in Sweden, and it’s a good way to brighten things up in your home.

Invest in anything that makes you feel good. That could mean paying for a new throw for you and your partner or spending some extra cash on extra cozy bedding. It might also mean finding a way to spend more time with friends of family — even if it’s not face-to-face.

Video conferencing with the people you love during the winter months might produce a better sense of hygge.

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Scandinavian winters and handling the cold

Ultimately, a Norwegian winter, Danish winter, or Swedish winter can be a very interesting experience for people who didn’t grow up in the Nordic countries.

Scandinavian winters are pretty harsh from an outside perspective, with extremely cold temperatures to worry about, and long nights that make it almost impossible to see the sun for most of the day.

Yet despite these difficult environments, the Scandinavians have a unique way of staying positive and comfortable all year long.

Whether it’s scattering beautiful candles and decorations around the home or just spending more time with loved ones, Scandinavian locals know how to keep themselves warm when the temperature drops.

Just as many people are beginning to take inspiration from the Scandinavian countries for things like interior design and fashion, it might be helpful to check out some Scandi methods for winter comforts too.

When you need an extra dose of coziness and self-care, there’s no-one like the Scandinavians to teach you what it means to survive the winter in style.

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