Updated: Jun 27
It is the concept of getting outside and making the most of the outdoors and can be anything from a week of backpack hiking through the mountains and wilderness, to simply getting outside for the evening into your garden. But the most important part of it is the effect it has on your mental and physical health. There is something so liberating about seeing sky and taking a deep breath of fresh air.
Getting outside can sometimes feel like one heck of a chore. We can be made to feel guilty about not spending time outside and it's easier to chill out on the sofa than pull on a pair of trainers or hiking boots.
Don't worry, this is not the guilt train! I am just here to offer a bit of gentle encouragement and if you need a nudge to get you outdoors into the fresh air, here are some reasons why you could benefit from friluftsliv
It lifts your mood
The calm and peace of nature can never fail to gently lift your mood. You might not feel it coming, but by the time you get home you feel a different person.
You move your body
Even a slow stroll or amble is moving your body. Walking has been proven to be incredibly good for our health and it's something that can be done at your own speed and in your own way.
You breathe fresh air
Take a deep breath! Air smells different in nature. It's fresh, smells of plants or moss or sea air. Close your eyes and take a moment to recognise all those smells.
You are more connected to nature
You notice the seasons, the subtle changes in the days and the way nature adapts to that. It might be something big like the colour changes of a forest or something tiny like how busy the ants are outside your front door. Whichever way you notice it connects you to the outside world and your place in it.
You make exciting discoveries
Not all discoveries need to be on the same scale as Columbus or Sir Francis Drake. Daily discoveries can be found in looking over a gate or taking a different path through a park that make you feel like you have stepped into another place and allow you to let your imagination wander.
You might discover a new sport
Friluftsliv is not only hiking or walking, but all the outdoor sports that you could possibly think of. Everything from canoeing to skiing, to hang-gliding to grilling outdoors. If you are outside you are enjoying friluftsliv. Try a few new activities and see what you like. You might discover a new passion.
Your worries seem less serious
I am not going to try to trivialise anyone's worries or concerns, but it can help to put things into perspective and being in a wide open space can open up the mind. For that time that you are outside you can put any worries away for a short time. Let your mind wander and appreciate what you have around you, be grateful for trees, plants and animals around us. Letting your subconscious rest for a time and you might find that answers just present themselves, and if not, you have at least allowed your mind a little holiday from worry.
Try it, what have you got to lose?
You enjoy something that is not consumer based
Whichever way you cut it we are mostly governed by a certain amount of consumerism. What we need to buy to survive, how to get it, our earnings and working. Friluftsliv allows us the freedom to forget that for a period. There are no shops, adverts or pressure to buy. And if you are walking in a park and pass a kiosk, keep walking. You don't need to be constantly under pressure to be a consumer.
You challenge yourself
Can you take those extras steps up? Can you walk that extra few metres? Can you swim just a little further? Or maybe you are a little nervous of being out in an environment that can seem rather daunting. Try challenging yourself a bit. Push yourself to do a small amount more each time (within your own limits, of course). You could even record your efforts in a notebook, or on an app. It's great for our self esteem to look back at where we were and where we are now and celebrate!
You learn to accept all weathers and find the joy in it
One thing that always put me off getting outside when I lived in England was the weather. We do get a lot of rain there and living in Dorset on the south west coast it was always so windy! But since living in Norway I have learned a valuable lesson "det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær", there is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes. It's a maxim that all Nordic countries adopt and is one we should all have. We get some fairly extremes of temperature in Norway from 30C in the summer to -30C in the winter and everything in between, but that is no excuse not to enjoy being outside. Once you have enjoyed the beauty of a very cold winters day you will always want to be out in it, but wear the right clothes. Any activity is an enjoyment if you are dressed properly. There is no need to be cold or wet.
Are you going to enjoy some friluftsliv this week? Let me know what you have been doing out in the fresh air in the comments....
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