So, it looks like we are in for a long, hard covid winter with local or even national lockdowns looking quite likely. During the spring and summer months this didn’t feel as daunting as now, facing dark months separated from family and friends with a virtual Christmas being little to celebrate. The Scandinavians have much to teach us on how to cope with a long winter, so I have put them together with some of my own thoughts on how I have coped as a widow during difficult times and developed some resilience.
1. Hygge & Koselig
The Danish and Norwegian concepts of ‘hygge’ and ‘koselig’ can offer some much needed comfort. Getting snuggly and cosy with warm blankets, roaring fires, candles and low lighting sets the tone. These concepts also extend to hearty or comforting food too, so take it as an excuse to have a little of what you like – we all need a bit of extra insulation during the winter anyway!
In Sweden the concept of outdoor living is expressed in the term ‘friluftsliv’ – literally translated as ‘free air life’. This extends far past the idea of outdoor cafe culture to families with children happily playing in a playground covered in snow and ice during a snowstorm (I have witnessed this myself!) So, adopting some of their hardiness could help prevent us getting cabin fever and get the vitamin D and fresh air that will do us all good during this difficult time. We should embrace the Scandinavian saying that ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing’ and invest in good thermals, cosy knitwear and waterproofs. If meeting other households is permitted, then setting up an inviting, outdoor place could provide a little haven to continue being social with others. Utilising a BBQ or fire-pit to provide warmth along with some cosy blankets and hot drinks.
On Christmas Eve Icelanders give books and chocolate to their loved ones and then all go to bed early to read and eat their treats. It’s no wonder that Iceland is known to be the most literary country in the world. I loved this idea so much that we have adopted it the tradition with my son getting family members second-hand books and yummy choccies each year. Disappearing into a good book is a great way to while away the long winter nights and we will need a bit of escapism in the coming months.
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This is the Swedish version of ‘Friday night in’ which we will all be having many of our own of this winter. So stock up on tasty snacks, some steaming mulled wine (or Swedish glögg) and snuggle up in front of a fire or with a blanket to enjoy that box-set that you been meaning to watch. It’s even better if you fall asleep and miss the end! If you use Netflix Party you can watch things at the same time as your friends and chat to them about the film as well. Plan it ahead so you have something to look forward to and use it to mark the weekends.
Between 10 and 11am every day Swedes stop whatever they are doing and have coffee often with a tasty pastry such as kanelbullar (Cinnamon buns). It’s a great way to take a bit of time out of a busy day and would normally involve chatting with friends or work colleagues. So, why not use it as a chance to text, phone or video call a friend and see how they are getting on?
6. Scandi Mindset
Scandinavians don’t dread the winter, in fact they love it! Their positive mindset helps them to cope with the short hours of daylight and they look forward to the snow so they can do their favourite winter sports. They cherish the unique beauty and stillness that winter brings. I love the changing of the seasons too and try to capture it with a camera. What can you do during this season that you wouldn’t in spring or summer? Why not take up a new past-time like knitting or cross-stitch that you wouldn’t do otherwise?
7. Self Care
One of the most important things I did when my husband died was to take care of myself, so that I could be strong enough to take care of my son. I instinctively knew that I needed to eat regularly and healthily, exercise often and sleep as much as I could. Realising it’s ok too to not be ok, to not have to do everything and not be perfect was important too. Be kind to yourself and enjoy a treat and some special treatment now and then as well as taking this opportunity to slow down, recharge and relax.
All these tips are great if you are lucky enough to be in a relationship, but I think they are even more important If you are on your own as I have been. I hope this helps you through this crazy time and come out of the other end of the covid winter. I would love to know if you take up some of these tips or if you have any of your own.