Updated: Jun 27
I have always maintained that anyone can have a Nordic life wherever they are and that it's all a matter of state of mind and choosing to live a certain way, pretty much the same as we do on a daily basis anyway whether we realise it or not. But it can also be very helpful to have a peek into how other people might live the Nordic life and how.
Here are some of the things that I have adopted since moving to Norway from England, and the parts of Nordic living that really make a difference to my life and help me connect more not just with nature with my own physical and mental wellbeing.
Knowing the benefits of fresh air
I am always saying this, so apologies if I sound like a broken record, but it's so true. Fresh air, whether in the country or a city park or even on your own doorstep, is so good for our mental and physical health. Most people in Scandinavia get outside everyday and we can all have a piece of that in our lives. There is always a moment to choose to stop and take a deep breath of fresh air.
Not worrying about the weather
How any times have you heard the saying "det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær" (there's no such thing as bad weather only the wrong clothes)? And that is a great maxim to have. This goes hand in hand with what I have said above. Don't be put off by a little rain if you want to go out, grab a coat and get out there. If we didn't go outside in questionable weather in Scandinavia, we'd be stuck inside for 6 months of the year. Not being preoccupied with what the weather is doing is very liberating.
Starting the day early
Life in the Nordic region during the week generally starts early. People are up and about getting the most out of the day. I guess this is most important in the winter months when we have so little daylight, but people also embrace that in the summer when we are all trying to enjoy the long days as much as possible.
Bringing nature inside with you
Norwegians love to be reminded of what lies outside the door and a small bunch of wild flowers (picked in moderation) is a delightful reminder of that. If you don't want to pick flowers then a houseplant also brigs freshness to your home and a calming greenery that is good for the soul.
Take time for the niceties
Norwegians love to shake hands when they see each other and you can expect this from your doctor, teachers, in fact anyone you meet. Its perfectly normal to shake hands when you meet someone and ask how they are. Those simple, traditional niceties are something that is getting lost is some societies and I for one love the fact that is thriving in Nordic society. Unfortunately, things have been a little different in the past year, but the handshake has been replaced with the elbow bump or foot bump.
Eating seasonally and simply
In most of the Nordic countries nothing much is cheap and least of all foods that are out of season. There is always a celebratory aspect to the first Norwegian tomatoes arriving in the shops or the first strawberries and it helps connect us to when foods are naturally in season. Nordic food is traditionally mild and fairly simple cooking, many of the older and more traditional dishes having been passed down through rural generations where they would not have had access to more exotic spices and seasonings. But this love of simple cooking and easy meals is part of the culture here.
Giving other people space and enjoying the space they give you
There's a joke that if one person is sitting on a bench in Norway, then that bench is full. Norwegians love to give each other plenty of space and hate to feel like they might be encroaching on a friend or neighbour. That doesn't mean that they don't want to talk to you but just that they respect your personal space.
This is probably a slightly controversial one and as an Englishwoman I had to really learn this (we brits can be a little confrontational at times). But Norwegians will avoid an argument at all costs and argumentative types can find themselves being avoided. Having said this, when there is a disagreement it's tackled with conviction and decisiveness.
Keeping décor simple
I am not always an advocate of all things white, but in the Nordic countries different shades of white usually define the décor. There's a very simple reason for it and that is the lack of light in the winter. White reflects any light around and things like white window frames reflect the light back into the house. Interior décor also tends to follow simple rules here - not gaudy or fussy and keeping it simple with clean uncluttered lines and colours that are reminiscent of nature.
Respecting other people regardless of status
This is one I love and have come to eagerly accept living in Norway. It doesn't matter whether you are the King of Norway of someone sweeping the road, everyone is treated with the same level of respect. Everyone has a place in society and everyone deserves to be treated the same.
I hope that gives you a little insight into Nordic life and how it looks from my point of view. Of course, Nordic living can be whatever you choose to make it and aspects of Nordic life can be embraced or left aside as you feel fit.
These are just a few key points that make Nordic life so appealing to me and if you'd like to learn more you are welcome to join us in the Living a Nordic Life Facebook Group where we love to discuss Nordic living and life in Scandinavia with fellow members from all over the world.