Embrace outdoorsy instead of cozy—here’s how.

By Lisa Milbrand
September 30, 2020
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The Scandinavians (specifically, the Danish) definitely seemed to have it right with their hygge, a lifestyle focused on coziness where warm blankets, hot tea, and a comfy pair of slippers are necessities. This year, with the coronavirus pandemic continuing to upend daily life, our homes may be hygge, but our socializing definitely shouldn’t be—save gezellig gatherings for another time.

Enter friluftsliv (pronounced free-loofts-liv). Friluftsliv literally means “free air life,” and it’s a concept that is part of Norwegian culture. You’ll find nearly a million Instagram posts tagged with #friluftsliv full of forests, gorgeous landscapes, and people hiking, canoeing, camping, and otherwise exploring the great outdoors.

The idea behind friluftsliv or friluftsliving is to be out in the fresh air to commune with nature, even when the weather’s not great. And it’s probably a good concept for everyone to embrace right now, as the days grow colder and shorter but our activity options stay the same. Spending a couple of hours outdoors per week has been shown to improve stress levels and give your physical and mental health a boost (who doesn’t need to improve their stress levels and health?), and if you’re deciding between taking a walk or adding another hour to your daily screen time, the outdoors walk—even if the weather isn’t ideal—is probably the better choice for your mental health.

If you’re more a hygge fan than a brave-the-outdoors type, there are ways to make enjoying the outdoors more palatable and add a little friluftsliving to your life—here’s how.

1

The heart of friluftsliv is feeling at one with nature, so take time to really savor your surroundings. Enjoy the bright colors of the fall foliage, look for birds or other creatures, and simply take a deep breath or two.

2

Who says friluftsliv and hygge can’t peacefully coexist? Cozy blankets, pillows, patio heaters, and fire pits can all help fight off the chill and allow you to spend even longer outdoors.

RELATED: Create the Ultimate Outdoor Patio Setup for Fall Entertaining

3

The key to comfort when you’re embracing the fresh-air life is to dress in layers, so you can add or subtract clothing as the weather changes.

4

Eating al fresco can happen year-round. But to enjoy friluftsliv during the winter months, pack the thermos with some hot and hearty foods to help keep you warm when you’re outside.

5

If you have young kids, turn outdoor time into a game by creating a scavenger hunt. They can seek out items of different colors, different types of seed pods or leaves, or the items they’d need to build their own fairy house. (Bonus: You can turn it into a bit of a science lesson, too.)

6

Activities that can get people moving—whether it’s badminton and bocce, snowball fights or relay races—can help get the blood pumping and fight off the chill. (Just stick to sports where social distancing can be easily maintained if you’re friluftsliving with people outside your household.)

7

Now’s the time to explore some fun new outdoor activities (or revisit an old favorite) to add a little more excitement to your life outdoors. Try snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, snow or sand sculpting, or painting a pretty landscape.