The New Hygge: Seven Tips for Embracing the Nordic Concept of Friluftsliv

Move over hygge, we’ve put together seven tried-and-tested tips for embracing the centuries-old Norwegian art of friluftsliv. This Nordic ideal of getting outside whatever the weather is an especially good foil for lockdown-induced cabin fever.

We've appropriated a lot from our Scandi neighbours over the years: minimalist interior design, cinnamon buns, and of course hygge - an excuse for us to cosy up with blankets and hot chocolates and candles and say we're being "cultural". Now there's a new Nordic concept to add to your repertoire (and one that's a perfect foil to lockdown-induced cabin fever).

Friluftsliv - pronounced free-loofts-liv and roughly translating as outdoor or "open-air living" - has been practiced in Norway for centuries, but is also widely referenced in Sweden and Denmark. The expression was popularised in the 1800s by the Norwegian playwright and poet Henrik Ibsen, who used the term to describe the benefits for physical and emotional wellbeing of spending time in remote locations.

Putting a SUITCASE spin on the art of friluftsliv, we've tried and tested seven ways in which you can embrace the great outdoors whatever the weather. Think: frosty walks with a hip flask, family picnics with a Thermos and working lunches al fresco instead of al desko. Come weekend, tog up and make a day of it. There's no such thing as too cold. For as they say in Norway: "Out on a hike, never in a bad mood."

Frosty walks and al fresco lunches: how to embrace the Nordic concept of friluftsliv

1. Kit yourself out

First things first. Wrapping up is a key aspect of friluftsliv. There's no point getting all wholesome and outdoors-y if you're not a) warmly dressed and b) looking the part. Check out the aptly named Danish brand Rains for stylish shell jackets and coats, and stock up on thermal underlayers such as these SKIMS leggings for extra warmth. Norwegians have an expression that goes: "Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær." It roughly translates as: "There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing."

2. PBW (Pre-breakfast walk)

A ritual that anyone can fit into their working-from-home day, a 20-minute walk around the block before you hunch over your computer for the remainder of the sunlight hours. Pop on a podcast such as the hilarious Isolation Tapes or SUITCASE's The Upgrade to brighten your mood, or even better, listen to the sounds of nature. Forget step counting, start counting time spent outside - research suggests we should be aiming for at least 120 minutes a week to boost good health and wellbeing. These wool-blend ski socks by FALKE will come in handy.

3. Lunch al fresco instead of al desko

One for those crisp, sunny days we all long for in winter (and even bright overcast days to be honest) - wrap up warm and take your lunch outside if you possibly can. Even 10 minutes of sunshine a day will boost those much needed vitamin-D levels, and we all know food tastes better outdoors. If you have a garden or outdoor space, winter barbecues are definitely a thing: togging up and roasting some bangers over coals is so much more atmospheric in freezing weather, anyway.

4. Wild swimming

We appreciate this isn't for everyone, but if you have access to somewhere to go for an icy dip then the endorphin rush is better than any drug, and mental health experts have been talking about the benefits for years. In Finland, there are more than 250 winter-swimming 'centres' open to the public, which often include changing facilities and saunas. While we don't quite have that level of luxury in the UK yet, there are plenty of rivers and lakes to take a plunge. If you're lucky enough to live near any of these wild swimming spots, take advantage during the winter months. Wear warm clothes, and make sure to read plenty of advice on tolerating the cold water if you're new to it.

5. Make time to hike

Norwegians have a saying that goes "Ut på tur, aldri sur" - which translates as "out on a hike, never in a bad mood". While we're not sure we always agree, there's certainly some sense in it. At the weekend, make a day of it and go for a proper walk around your nearest park or nature reserve, if you're lucky enough. Katinka Friis from Visit Denmark explains that the pandemic has seen an increase in hiking in Denmark, too: "During lockdown, many Danes use friluftsliv as a way to get out of the home office and find new ways of exploring their own surroundings. New hiking and biking routes have opened too, for example Istidsruten and the Amargermino." Let's follow suit.

6. Fill up the Thermos flask

Flasks aren't just for tea or coffee. Oh no, there are all sorts of meals you keep warm. Packing a hunk of crusty sourdough and a flask full of stew is a classic, but you can also use them to keep curry, pasta, warm couscous salads or even wraps warm for hours while you're outside. Check out British start-up Swivlit for an ingenious little flask-cum-slow cooker that can gently cook curries and stews all morning on the go, and then be ready to eat by lunchtime.

7. Winter stargazing

While stargazing is normally associated with remote cottages and mountain adventures, you'll spot plenty of twinklers from Morden Hall Park in south London - right at the end of the Northern Line. Its 125 acres of open parkland are perfect for stargazing thanks to a lack of light pollution. In fact, many rural areas in the UK have great stargazing potential - set your sat nav for Dark Sky Reserves such as the Brecon Beacons, Snowdonia and Exmoor national parks. Pack blankets and a good pair of binoculars.

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