Friluftsliv, Your Life Outdoors
Updated: Jun 27
The Norwegian ideal of friluftsliv seems to be something that everyone is talking about at the moment, but it's old news here in Norway. Norwegians have been embracing the outdoor life for as long at anyone can remember. The fact that there is a specific word for it in Norwegian tells you a little about how important friluftsliv is in Norway.
If you have no idea what I am talking about, friluftsliv is roughly translated as the outdoor life or outdoor living.
It's been compared to the hype about the Danish ideal of "hygge", but it is most definitely not about the traditional concept of cosy or "hygge", It is all about mental and physical wellbeing and the peace of mind that comes with spending time outside in nature with wide open spaces, peace and quiet, and time away from technology.
Friluftsliv is not just about being outside for hours at a time. It's all about meaningful outdoor activities that can range from a sport outside (for each season) or to a dugnad and everything in between. Friluftsliv is a way of living that takes a complete grip on people and encourages you to embrace the world around you by spending time outside.
For some, friluftsliv is an all encompassing way of life that touches every part of their daily lives, for others it is a weekend away in a tent or at the cabin, or a hike with a picnic. But here in Norway, it is entrenched into the psyche and everyone knows how important it is for wellbeing from toddlers to the the older generation.
You don't have to be Norwegian or even Scandinavian to have the friluftsliv. You simply have to be able to get outside your four walls. You don't need any special equipment or a crash course. Here are some ideas to get you started....
Consider how you already have friluftsliv in your own life and expand upon that. It might only be a small step, but it's a step in the right direction.
Make a list of outdoor activities that appeal to YOU. One size does not fit all. It wouldn't do for us all to be hiking the same route, or kayaking together. One person can love camping whilst another loves outdoor grilling. They are both enjoying friluftsliv.
Be easy on yourself. You don't need to be Lars Monsen to enjoy friluftsliv. Simply getting outside for a few minutes a day is enough and pretty soon you will find those minutes stretching to hours and before you know it you'll be waking up in tent with the sound of birdsong instead of your weekend alarm.
Make a box or pack of equipment you will need on your next trip outdoors. For me it's my backpack, little foraging knife, matches, an axe, spare gloves, grilling fork and foldable pads to sit on (we can be a little civilised!) and little first aid kit. Add a hot drink and some "turmat" and I'm ready! It's super easy to grab at a moments notice and takes the stress out of hunting for your equipment when you are fired up with enthusiasm to get outside.
Make a meal outside. You could go all out and do all your preparation outside in a spot you have hiked to, or you could simply cook on a campfire outside or even on your BBQ.... and all the possibilities in between! In Norway, there is even a word for taking you food on a trip with you - turmat. And friluftsliv and turmat are great friends.
Pick up litter. Not only will you be outdoors, but you will be contributing to making your outside space more beautiful for yourself and others. Any activity that is voluntary and helps the community is known as a dugnad in Norway. Join the dugnad!
Forage for something. Right now in the northern hemisphere we are in the middle of winter, but for those of you in warmer climes and for us in the north when the days get longer, foraging is a wonderfully fun thing to do outside. Be sure you know what you are picking, or take a guidebook with you and simply pick a few things but don't eat. Once you have gained some experience you will find it's an almost compulsive activity.
And don't forget to wear the right gear. It's not the be all to end all, but it will make the experience more fun if you are warm and dry, or cool and comfortable (depending on the weather). Make use of what you have if you can't or don't want to go and buy a whole new wardrobe.
Do you want to really want to get into the wonderful Nordic concept of friluftsliv and all it's mental and physical benefits?
Great, I have the perfect thing for you ->
So what is your friluftsliv like? Let me know in the comments...
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