Here’s To More Frilutsliv! (“Free-Loofts-Leev”)
January flew in this year with its usual vengeance. Gray overcast days with rainy and windy weather – typical for this time of year. Yet, even when anticipated, these dark winter days can often leave us feeling a bit gloomy. Especially with a pandemic raging, being cooped up inside can add to the sense of isolation.
Paradoxically, one of the best antidotes for the winter blues is to get outside, in spite of the rough weather. The Scandinavians have a term for it, too, it’s called friluftsliv – free-loofts-liv. The word roughly translates to “open-air living.”
Many Nordic parents practice the concept with their children at a young age. Babies, at ages under one year-old, are often spotted napping outdoors, in all weather, throughout the year. No wonder they are a hardy bunch! The phrase. “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes,” is a mantra children hear frequently during their formative years.
Recent polls suggest more of us have gained a greater appreciation for nature during the past year. Too many days spent indoors certainly take their toll. Outdoor activities offer us new ways to feel connected to others while still maintaining social distancing protocols. While winter weather can be a challenge, we can still embrace the frilutftsliv attitude and remain outdoor enthusiasts.
We’re lucky to live within close proximity to nature. And, most of us have closets filled with the right clothes to make year-round outside adventures more comfortable. Down jackets, boots, gloves, and rain gear are designed to help us brave the elements. Often, it’s getting out the door that represents the toughest part of bad weather outings. Perhaps we need to shift our perception of the winter months and adopt the Scandinavian mindset.
One recent day, with bitterly cold east winds blowing, we met our daughter and grandchildren at a public park. We all bundled up in layers, toasty jackets, and hats and gloves. The children played and road their bikes around the trails as we walked for over two hours. Large tree branches swayed in the wind, and our golden retriever happily chased leaves as they flew across the pathways. It was a delightful way to reconnect with family and enjoy the outdoors.
Researchers at the University of Exeter in the U.K. found that people who spend at least 120 minutes in nature a week, enjoy better health and well-being. Whether it’s walking the dog at a park, or hiking up a mountain trail, fresh air and exercise is good for our body and soul. Here’s to embracing more friluftsliv this winter!
Remember, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.”