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A Scandi Guide to Banishing The Winter Blues

A Scandi Guide to Banishing The Winter Blues
28 November 2023 Samantha Anderson

Scandi lifestyle expert at Contura shares tips on embracing the cold weather to enhance wellbeing ahead of the start of meteorological winter, 1 December.

An astonishing 2 million people in the UK alone are thought to suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a period of low mood triggered by weather shifts, aka the ‘winter blues’ . So, if the thought of the fast-approaching winter months – marked by the start of meteorological winter on 1 December – with their shorter days, longer nights, and ever-decreasing temperatures, fills you with dread, you are far from alone.

Luckily, Catharina Bjorkman, Scandi lifestyle expert at Contura, explains how, by embracing a few simple habits from our Northern European neighbours, we can learn how to thrive in the dark, cold months ahead – rather than just enduring them!

Catharina says: “The Scandinavians are no strangers to long, dark, and icy winters; sub-zero temperatures often last for several months in some of the northern regions . However, the season is rarely seen as something to dread and, believe it or not, many Scandinavians even look forward to it.

“This positive sentiment towards the season is unsurprising. Scandinavian philosophies such as mys, the concept of finding contentment in cosiness, and friluftsliv, which emphasises the benefit of spending time in nature no matter what the weather, are at the heart of both the individual and collective mindset within the region.

“By reframing winter as a time to embrace – rather than battle – the colder days and longer nights, whether it’s getting out to enjoy the beauty of winter landscapes or hunkering down to unwind with a cosy evening in, you can transform your life for the better over the coming months.”

Read on for Catharina’s Scandi-inspired guide to embracing the winter season…

Follow friluftsliv

The Scandinavian philosophy of friluftsliv is rooted in the belief that time in nature promotes wellbeing. Yet, as the temperature drops outside, so too can our desire to leave the house. Succumbing to this temptation too frequently can be detrimental to your wellbeing as, by reducing time spent outdoors, you are also more likely to be limiting physical activity and increasing the risk of isolation.

As a rule, try to ensure that you get a daily dose of nature, even if this is simply strolling outside in the morning to listen to the birds chirping away – a Swedish practice known as gökotta.

Focus on the joys of nature in winter; from the ability to catch vivid sunrises and sunsets during waking hours, to the satisfying crunch of footsteps on frosty grass.

Dress up…

There is a popular saying amongst Scandinavians that ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing’. Rather than seeing rain, wind, and snow as something to be avoided, the Scandi approach whatever the weather is simply to dress appropriately and get outside to enjoy it, aka keep calm and carry on.

If it’s cold out then layer up with a woolly hat, scarf, gloves, thermal layers, socks – whatever you have that will keep you cosy. Consider taking a flask of your favourite hot drink for an added dose of warming comfort. If it’s wet, as it often is in the UK, then be sure to dig out a sturdy umbrella, waterproof layers and water-resistant shoes with thick soles.

… Or dress down

Alternatively, use the winter season to embrace popular Scandinavian pastimes such as sweating it out in a sauna or cold-water swimming, both of which require little-to-no clothing. When done right, both activities have been linked to a host of physical and mental benefits, from easing muscle tension to boosting energy levels.

Whilst cold-water swimming, or just taking a dip, can be a great way to revitalise the body – whether in a tub in the garden, the sea, or your local lido – a trip to the sauna offers the perfect, relaxing escape from the winter chill.

Either way, both tech-free activities are perfect opportunities to mentally reset in amongst the busy festive season. Consider practicing meditative breathing exercises to further enhance the benefits.

Keep moving

Regular exercise is another key aspect of maintaining physical and mental wellbeing, with benefits including improved mood, cardiovascular health, and energy levels.

Whilst some forms of physical activity might be less appealing, practical, and even dangerous during the winter months, due to lack of visibility and icy surfaces, remember that exercise encompasses a whole range of movement – not just high-intensity and sweat-inducing workouts.

Everyone is different so be sure to move your body in a way that suits you. Our lives are constantly changing – whether it’s our routine, stress levels, or the weather around us – so keep in mind that what feels good one day, week, or month, might not the next and simply adjust your routine accordingly.

Whilst one day you might seek to get your daily movement within the comfort of your own home with a calming yoga routine in your living room or solo dance session in the kitchen, the next you might find an invigorating power walk around the block or a group class at your local gym more suitable.

Find time for fika

Winter is also the perfect season for fika, another pastime central to Swedish culture. Fika is about taking time, especially during the working week, to unwind, socialise, and strengthen bonds with those around you over coffee and a pastry, or two.

The chill of the winter weather makes the warming sensation of a sticky, sweet pastry and a steaming mug of tea or coffee more comforting than ever.

Likewise, sharing this experience with a family member, friend, or colleague – whether in content silence, reminiscing over a fond memory, opening up about a worry, or loudly laughing to a shared joke – will help brighten even the dreariest of days.

Hunker down with mys

The Swedish concept of mys is centred around the restorative benefits of actively setting aside time to unwind by hunkering down in the calming, cosy comforts of home.

Winter is the perfect time to embrace mys and enjoy the mental reset it gives you. The dark, cold evenings provide the optimal backdrop for a cosy night in and, with the festive season bringing a seemingly never-ending stream of invitations, it is more important than ever to use evenings at home for rest and recovery.

At its best, it involves a crackling fire, soft blankets, comfy clothes, delicious food and drink – from a glass of wine and a hearty pie, to a herbal tea and some popcorn – and great company, whether that be a book, furry friend, or partner.

When done right, you will start to find greater value in choosing to spend an evening at home and, in turn, feel more empowered to only say yes to invitations you feel excited about, rather than feeling obliged to accept the ninth Christmas drinks party invitation simply because you are free.

TGIF – thank goodness it’s fredagsmys!

That said, staying cosy at home need not be antisocial. Fredagsmys – which literally translates to ‘cosy Friday’ – is a beloved tradition in Sweden centred around spending Friday evenings at home with family and friends in order to enjoy a collective sense of cosiness.

So, this winter, instead of hosting an elaborate festive dinner, heading to the local pub, or hitting the gym after a long work week, why not start your weekend in a gentler fashion by inviting your loved ones around for a cosy Friday evening?

Hosting fredagsmys need not be stressful: low-fuss foods such as tacos, pizzas, crisps, and pick ‘n’ mix selections have come to be staples of the tradition, entertainment often takes the form of a movie or simple board game, and the setting for the proceedings is typically a sofa or some comfy cushions on the floor.

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Notes to editors:

  • Rooster PR will coordinate comment, interview and profile opportunities for Contura UK Country Manager, Phil Wood.
  • The Contura PR team will also arrange visits to the nearest Contura Design Centre dealerships or the Contura showroom in Doncaster to see the product range.

For further press information, please contact:
Tilly Everard | Anna Nyman | Elsa Findlay | Julie Aguilera
T: +44 (0)203 440 8930
E: [email protected]

About Contura:
Contura is Europe’s leading manufacturer of wood burning stoves, offering an extensive range of classic and contemporary wood burners; from traditional insert stoves suitable for existing fireplaces, to freestanding statement models made with innovative materials such as soapstone.

Starting at £1,495, Contura stoves are premium yet affordable. Award winning, timeless Swedish design means the products complement or enhance any style of home, whilst also offering outstanding performance, maximum efficiency, practicality and ease of use.

Designed and assembled at the factory located in Markaryd, Sweden, and manufactured to the highest standards, Contura stoves are highly energy efficient, offering powerful convection, superior combustion technology and clean burning systems. All Contura stoves are DEFRA Clean Air Act exempt and thus approved for use in Smoke Control Areas.

Contura stoves can be purchased through a network of 165 independent retailers nationwide.

Contura is part of the NIBE group, a Swedish manufacturing company producing world class solutions in sustainable energy across Europe, North America, Asia and Australia.

Contura is a founding member of the Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) in the UK.

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