A philosophy, a lifestyle and a key to health from Norway.

pexels-photo-51089Friluftsliv [pronounced free-loofts-liv]: A Norwegian word meaning ‘free, air, life’, that is used to describe the intrinsic relationship between Norwegians and the great outdoors.

Norway is in many ways similar to New Zealand, in terms of climate (at times), a happy population, and the breathtaking natural beauty that surrounds us. However, Norwegians have something special that many modern, city-dwelling Kiwis may well lack; a deeper connection with nature.

The drawbacks of a modern lifestyle

Modern times have seen us progress from a more active, outdoorsy, experience, to one that is much more sedentary, and spending a lot more time inside. The effects that this can have on our mental and physical health can be very detrimental. Not only are we moving about less, it means less fresh air into our lungs, and less sunshine on our skin.

Even with our beautiful, natural landscapes, we can easily fall into these patterns of modern, city life.

The Norwegian life and nature connection

In Norway, and indeed, Scandinavian countries in general, people are brought up with nature as a very important part of their weekly lives. Outdoor play on frozen lakes, skiing out on the slopes, and in green parks is an essential part of growing up for children, and Sunday outings hiking, walking, or out on the mountainside are a part of almost every Norwegian’s week.

Eco-therapy to soothe the mind, body, and soul

When it comes to the benefits of a more outdoors lifestyle, there are many. These include:

  • Appreciating the beauty of the natural world around us, filling us with warm feelings
  • The health benefits of vitamin D, which we obtain through exposure to sunlight, helping ward off depression, among other things
  • A feeling of connectedness with the Earth; we are all part of the natural world, and so we feel like we are getting back to our roots
  • Breathing in fresh, pure oxygen, which helps our bodies to run better

Activities to get back to nature

If you want to embrace some friluftsliv in your modern day life, it doesn’t mean a move to the countryside. You can take small steps to get back to nature, even from within the city.

Try out these activities to feel the benefits:

  • Walk instead of drive

If you have somewhere to be that’s within an hour walk of your home, then get outside and get moving. Google Maps can help you determine how long it will take you to walk anywhere, so you can plan in advance.

  • Take weekend hikes

11200-bush_walkWe are absolutely spoilt for natural beauty in NZ, so now’s the time to start enjoying it again. Check out local national parks and plot a walk or hike out in the countryside.

  • Get out on the water

Take out a boat on one of our waterways or the ocean and enjoy the ride. Feel the kiss of the water on your skin and smell the salt of the sea.

  • The cold only makes it more exciting to go back indoors

Norwegians don’t just stay inside when it’s cold out – they wrap up and take a brisk walk in the air. Do the same and you’ll feel fresh, and then toasty once you’re back inside by the heater.