Friluftsliv: How to Love Your Summer by Embracing the Outdoors
We owe a lot to Scandinavia for the elements of their culture that we’ve embraced, from the modern wonders of IKEA and minimal interior design to the lifestyle principle of hygge, or cosy living.
This summer, there’s never been a better time to implement the next most popular Scandi trend of 2021, the principle of friluftsliv (pronounced free-looft-sliv). Friluftsliv has been part of Norwegian heritage for decades and roughly translates as ‘outdoor/open-air living’. It’s the perfect remedy for us to emerge from our homes into the warmer seasonal weather.
Since 2013, Scandinvian countries have consistently ranked in the top ten in the world for happiness, a huge part of that success comes down to embracing the outdoors through friluftsliv. Keep reading to learn more.
The term was originally coined by playwright Frederik Ibsen in the 19th Century, he invented a character that searched for solitude in nature to clear their thoughts. Friluftsliv has been totally embraced by Norwegians since and has spread throughout Scandinavia.
There is no strict definition of what friluftsliv has to mean to anyone, there’s no pressure involved. You only need to apply it to your life through a commitment to getting outdoors consistently, this could be every day or once a week, it doesn’t matter.
What does matter is making sure any activities you take part in outside fall in line with the five main principles of friluftsliv. These are:
Connect Connecting with nature through outdoor activities, either with other people or alone.
Be Active Whatever you’re doing outside, at some point it should include physical activity, like city walking, cycling, hiking or canoeing.
Take Notice Have respect for and take notice of nature. Be curious of the world around you and ensure you’re appreciating its beauty. Keep Learning Try a new physical activity, something that takes you a little bit out of your comfort zone. Or go somewhere new and explore without the use of technology. Give Ensure that you’re always helping other people enjoy their time outdoors and lead by example in respecting public places.
Whether you live in the countryside or in a city, it’s important to enjoy the outdoors. Find out below how you can implement the five principles of friluftsliv wherever you are in the world.
Friluftsliv At Home
No matter how little outdoor space you have at home, it’s still possible to get closer to nature and let nature get closer to you. Ensuring you have comfort around you so you can spend more time in your garden is vital, so dress yours with comfortable seating - including soft cushions and throws - and make the most of those longer, warmer evenings outdoors.
Meditation is a huge part of the friluftsliv movement, sitting in absolute silence in your garden and simply listening to the sounds of nature around you is hugely beneficial. This study shows that spending at least two hours in nature per week improves your wellbeing and health, so this is the perfect summer activity while you’re at home.
If your home only has a balcony, that doesn’t mean you’ll miss out on the natural beauty of the world. You can still dress your outdoor space as comfortably as possible, complement the scene with an outdoor candle and ensure you’re sat out to enjoy some of the best free shows nature can offer, a sunrise or sunset.
Indoors, you can borrow some principles from feng shui in order to bring nature inside. Surrounding yourself with plants, images of the outdoors or natural essential oils will help represent living energy throughout your home. This aligns with the ‘forest immersion’ element of friluftsliv, where you get closer to nature by slowing your heart rate down, lowering your blood pressure and surrounding yourself with outdoor, natural fragrances. The perfect remedy for any stresses in your life.
Finally, simple techniques like leaving your outdoor shoes next to your front door serve as a continuous reminder to step outside. This would also encourage you to incorporate as much outdoor time into your daily routine as possible. A recent PartyLite study showed that a regular morning routine could be key for relieving stress, so adding the principles of friluftsliv into that could be the perfect remedy.
Friluftsliv In The Countryside
From a very young age, children in Scandinavia are encouraged to get outdoors and be messy and muddy. This then translates to a long-standing love of the outdoors within their culture, with many businesses being known to give their workers time off in the afternoon to get out into nature.
A typical Scandi saying is “there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.” So even if it’s not always sunny during the summer where you are, that shouldn’t stop you from going out, getting muddy and letting your imagination run wild as you get used to being outdoors more often.
Foraging is also a huge part of friluftsliv and the Nordic lifestyle in general. Living in or traveling to the countryside gives you the chance to pick berries, fruits and herbs. There are plenty of opportunities to get closer to nature by eating a meal that you’ve foraged by yourself. Just make sure that you don’t pick fungi unless you’re absolutely sure it’s edible and avoid anything growing near roads as they can be covered in pollution from cars.
Summer herbs like chickweed and sorrel go really well with salads or stews. You could also find lime flowers and honeysuckle that are perfect for infusing into tea, while later in the season you can find blueberries and blackberries thriving which you can add to desserts or eat on the spot.
As frilufsliv’s principles are about calming your mind, you should ensure that forest immersion doesn’t just happen at home. Taking a hammock or camp bed to sit out on a sunny day or warm evening is the perfect peaceful pursuit to rest and recuperate while celebrating nature and the outdoors.
Frilufstliv In The City
If you live in a city or a large town and don’t have the means to get into the countryside, you shouldn’t worry, there are still plenty of opportunities to get closer to nature. The simplest way to enjoy the outdoors would be to take your favourite book and sit in a green space like a local park.
If you’re looking to combine friluftsliv with exercise, solo jogging allows you to connect with the outdoors without distractions, while some cities have bike rental schemes which would allow you to explore more areas around you. To get the body moving in new ways, find an outdoor gym or climbing wall and push yourself a little more while enjoying the outside. If you really want to make the most of any weather, then outdoor swimming is an ideal activity. Scandis absolutely love forest bathing throughout the year, even though temperatures regularly go below freezing. Recreate that by finding an outdoor pool to swim in, perfect for cooling down on warm summer days.
If food is your thing, many city parks have designated areas for cooking food (just make sure you clean up after yourself). The friluftsliv way is to make outdoor food as sociable as possible, so if you’re dining al fresco bring along some easy-to-eat food and a thermos flask, it doesn’t need to be anything too fancy.
Getting closer to nature by doing away with technology is a perfect way to enjoy your surroundings. Walking through your local area without headphones allows you to listen to the world around you. Studies have also shown that not using headphones lets your body relax into rest-and-digest mode rather than being in a fight-or-flight state of mind.
This also is a perfect way for you to give to others by enjoying nature with friends and family. A tech-free walking date will allow you to enjoy the world around you and means you can implement the giving element of friluftsliv. The more people that you can encourage to fall in love with the outdoors the better.