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Why You Should Embrace Friluftsliv this Winter

Psychologist, Keynote Speaker and Male Ally

Why You Should Embrace Friluftsliv this Winter

If you’ve never head the phrase Friluftsliv before I’d not at all be surprised. Very few people outside of Scandinavia have heard this term, let alone embraced it on their path to mental and physical wellness. If you are one of the large proportion of people who are no doubt thinking “What is Friluftsliv?”, then don’t worry – this article will explain all…and why you should embrace it this winter. Before we delve into the benefits, let’s take a brief step back in time to find the origins of Friluftsliv.

The term Friluftsliv was first coined by the Norwegian writer and poet Henrik Ibsen all the way back in 1859. Many years later, in the 20th century, Ibsen’s concept was latched onto and, ultimately, promoted by another Norwegian, Arne Ness – a philosopher and founder of the deep ecology movement. The work of both Ibsen and Ness perfectly captured Scandinavian culture in a mere single word. Scandinavians fully embrace nature and enjoy the outdoors, not only for what it is but also as a way of life. Friluftsliv can be described as the perfect marriage between recreation and rejuvenation, which some would say is essential on the journey down the road to holistic wellness.

Its meaning? “Free-air life”. 

Fitting, right?

Friluftsliv: Being Present in Nature

No matter how much of a city dweller you are, there is something incredibly magical that occurs when leaving the urban jungle behind you and surround yourself with a gorgeous outdoor landscape. The Scandinavians have been doing it during summer months for years; spending their summers camping, backpacking, hiking and the like, fully embracing the philosophy of a “free-air life”. When adopting Friluftsliv, your goal is a very uncomplicated one: enjoy the moment. You’ll learn a lot about yourself as well as feeling connecting with the natural environment you find yourself in. 

I know what you’re thinking; “If I’ve read the last paragraph correctly, it’s something that’s typically done during summer months, so why is Friluftsliv a good idea during winter? Surely it’s far too cold for that?” Well, let me explain.

Ultimately, Friluftsliv is beneficial all year round. It doesn’t matter whether it’s spring, summoner, autumn, or winter – it has a myriad of mental and physical health benefits that can be enjoyed by everyone. Granted, it isn’t easy for everyone to get out, but embracing Friluftsliv could lead to healthier, happier, and better performing employees.

Here are just a few examples of why you should embrace Friluftsliv this winter (and all year round too!).

#1 – Improved Concentration

Studies have shown that children who spend more times outdoors are less likely to have ADHD than children who spend greater amounts of time inside. That’s actually rather staggering. More time outside equals a clear positive impact on brain function and behaviour. Powerful stuff.

#2 – Immune System Boost

The two most common types of illness that stop people from coming into the office are the common cold and flu – two conditions that go hand-in-hand with our immune system. Research has shown that forest environments are strongly linked to improvements in your immune system; therefore, to reduce your chances of being ill, you really do need to get outside (yes, even in the cold!).

#3 – Reduced Stress Levels

Spending times around tress has been shown to reduce both the stress hormone cortisol and heart rate. In fact, there are even specific flowers and plants that promote relaxation and help to combat anxiety and depression. A stress-free employee is someone who is in the best frame of mind to perform when at work.

#4 – Enhanced Happiness

Walking in nature is linked to being happier. And, as employees who are happier reach their work goals over 30% more often than those who aren’t as happy, this is something that can have a profound impact on everything and everyone at work. If you’re dealing with morale issues, why not take your team outdoors?

#5 – Short-term Memory Boost

Taking a stroll in forested areas has been shown to increase short-term memory by as much as 20%. Of course, we’re not advising you to hold all of your meetings in the forest because it’d be far too distracting, but encouraging outdoors adventure can only have a positive effect.

#6 – Enhanced Creativity

Spending time in the countryside and enjoying the outdoors is proven to boost problem-solving skills, not to mention providing inspiration. A business is only as good as its people and their creativity/ability to think outside the box; therefore, a little trip outdoors might do your employees and the business a whole heap of good!