LIVE YOUR BEST FRILUFTSLIV Create mini outdoor adventures with this Scandi philosophy.
No, it’s not a typo – it’s the Scandinavian philosophy of outdoor living. But you don’t need to live next door to a fjord to do it – you can create your own mini outdoor adventures wherever you call home
We’re all now familiar with the Nordic hug that is hygge, but for many Scandinavians the idea of getting outdoors and connecting with nature is far more central to their culture than bowls of porridge and Fair Isle sweaters. It’s a concept known as friluftsliv and it was rst popularised by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen in the 19th century, when he created a character that searched for solitude in nature to help clarify his thoughts. Loosely translated as ‘free air life’, Danes, Finns and Swedes have come to regard it as an essential part of their lifestyle.
While Nordic countries o er access to acres of wilderness (and the occasional mountain cabin), as well as sympathetic employers who incentivise sta to get outside during working hours, it might be hard to see how we can achieve the same slice of friluftsliv on our small island. But before you sigh that you live in an apartment and can only enjoy nature in the local park, be reassured that it’s less about the rugged, and more about a general immersion in nature – be it on or o the beaten track.
“Friluftsliv can be an amazing view or the accomplishment of a goal – picking hedgerow fruit, going for a hilltop hike, breathing in the ocean air,” says Norwegian life coach Anne Eriksen (www.anneeriksen. dreambuildercoach.com). “But it can also be shovelling snow, digging in the ground or moving stones. It’s the freedom not to think or worry, to just ‘be’ and watch, and master your next step,” she explains.
Heather Ricks, a Scottish-born writer who has been living in Sweden since 2004, agrees that friluftsliv is more of a way of life than a pastime. “That’s the beauty of it: there is no boundary to what it constitutes,” she says.
“In many ways, it is a state of mind or a way of thinking, more than what you ‘do’.”
In a world of tech, tweets and being stuck at our desks, getting into nature can have important body bene ts. But as well as the physical virtues of moving across di erent terrain, it can also boost our mental health. “Putting down the phone or laptop and being outside creates a sense of presence, brings families together and helps us forget our busy lives for a moment,” says Isabella Arendt from The Happiness Research Institute in Denmark (happinessresearchinstitute.com). “Finding peace and quiet and living an active and healthy life are all factors in increasing happiness.”
Friluftsliv isn’t just about a sense of calm though. “Being in nature helps you take risks, take chances, do something unexpected and step out of your comfort zone,” says nutritional therapist and Scandinavia’s ‘long-life guru’, Thorbjörg Hafsteinsdóttir (www.thorbjorg.co.uk). “For me, friluftsliv also brings courage and mental strength.”
Turn the page to nd how you can live your best friluftsliv, wherever you are...