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.

appropriated a lot from our
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

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

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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