Finland is known for its long, dark and coooold winters. No wonder we are experts when it comes to winter survival tricks!
Find out our five favorite strategies for fighting off the winter blues and making the best out of the season.
1. Sauna bathing
With around 3.3 million saunas Finland is undoubtedly the sauna capital of the world. That said, a hot bath in the sauna is probably the best antidote to cold and humid weather!
But that's not the full story…
In Finland we have this weird tradition called “winter swimming” which is exactly what it sounds like. Some of us get together, drive out to a frozen lake, drill a hole in the ice, and go swimming in the icy cold water...for fun.
And if you ask yourself, why on earth anyone would ever want to do that, it’s because you’ve never experienced the amazing feeling you feel AFTER getting out. The adrenaline rush and euphoria is hard to describe!
Of course the entire ritual always ends with everyone back in the sauna to warm up the body thoroughly. Nothing more relaxing than this!
2. Hygge like in Denmark
The Danish recipe for Hygge is not that different from the Finnish one - the Danes just managed to find a better word for it!
Hygge refers to everything that is cozy and comforting. Candle light, Christmas lights, spending time with your loved ones, comfort food, homely decorations...
In Finland we prefer to drink “glögi”, the Finnish version of mulled wine, while munching some Finnish gingerbread cookies and Finnish Christmas pastries that are filled with plums.
There's also a bunch of foods that are particularly tasty in winter. One national dish that is very popular is the Karelian Stew, a traditional meat stew that combines beef, pork and lamb meat and is seasoned with peppercorn and allspice.
If you don't have Karelian Stew or Finnish glögi available in your region, don´t worry. Any tasty comfort food will do the trick! You could also head to your closest IKEA and get some Swedish Christmas delicacies. They´re little different than in Finland, but still have that special Scandinavian vibe.
Lack of sunlight is one of the most depressing and tiring things about winter. In the Northern regions of Finland there is a phase called “kaamos”, when the sun disappears completely for a few weeks. That means that it is dark 24/7…
Luckily there's a solution for this problem as well: bright light treatment.
A bright light device efficiently compensates for lack of natural light in the dark season. In fact, , increasingly many people have managed to beat the winter blues with bright light therapy.
Research shows that bright light therapy has a number of benefits: it increases energy levels and alertness, and helps maintain work motivation. It also increases serotonin levels which in turn improves our mood.
4. Winter sports
Typically Finnish winter sports include skiing, ice skating, snowboarding and ice hockey. As you can imagine, we Finns love them all!
If you are feeling sluggish or just lazy, our recommendation is: Get moving and make it fun!
We know it can be tempting to stay on the couch and binge watch Netflix, especially if the weather is wet and cold. The best way to combat your inner couch potato is to just get dressed up warmly (there's no bad weather, just inappropriate clothing!) and head out, be it for a walk, a run or another form of exercise.
5. Pikkujoulut = Little Christmas
Pikkujoulut means “little Christmas” and refers to a non-formal party held to anticipate Christmas. It's also a pretty effective strategy to survive the darkest month of the year, December.
A pikkujoulu party usually combines MANY of the elements mentioned above: Hygge, Sauna, good food and lots of fun!
We´re aware that this year things might be quite different due to the pandemic and big parties are banned in most countries. As a replacement we suggest organizing a virtual pikkujoulu party.
All the participants dress up at their homes, get their favorite food and drink ready and start a video conference. Sorry, we forgot one important thing! Get out your air guitar as well.
Air guitar is another thing Finns are masters at, and it is definitely a great way to fight off a low mood.
Make the best out of winter
As you can see: Winter can actually be quite fun. The key is to create a mix of entertaining, comforting, energizing and relaxing activities to cheer up your day. In the midst of a pandemic that can be a bit more challenging than usual, but luckily things can be done alone, with social distancing or even virtually.