10 steps towards fighting the winter blues in Sweden
If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know I can get a little grumpy starting in November. It’s the sun’s fault – I don’t get enough of it during this time. I grew up on the Adriatic coast where the sun isn’t so shy. 🙂
With the school workload constantly increasing, the darkness starting to come earlier and earlier in the day, the rain, the wind, the cold, the runny noses… Things can look pretty gloomy, pretty fast. However, I have to admit this autumn has been much kinder than the previous one.
In order to preserve what’s left of my sanity, I decided to put my best optimistic face forward and find ways to fight the grumpiness. There are a couple of things you can do to avoid feeling demotivated during winter in Sweden:
I can’t emphasize this enough. Roll out that dusty yoga mat, go run in the morning, attend a gym class or lift some weights. Being active this way will not only help you stay energized when “energetic” seems to be the last adjective you can pin to yourself, but it will help you stay healthy during the cold season. Last autumn I used to run a lot in the mornings. At first it was a horrible chore, but after a couple of times I started enjoying it no matter the cold/rain/wind/slippery road. Stay tuned for a blog post dedicated to my favourite spots/ways to stay fit.
I guess this one’s obvious. Stock up on vitamins of all sorts. Vitamin D and B should help a lot during this time, but don’t discriminate: all of them are good for you! Along these lines, try to eat as healthy as possible (and break the rule sometimes with #4). Get that oatmeal for breakfast and salmon for lunch.
3. THE LITTLE THINGS
By this, I don’t mean the cliché little things in life that bring joy (although, you can do that too). By this, I mean the little things that can make your life a tad easier, like: pick your outfit for the upcoming day before you go to bed. Ok, I have to admit I’ve been super bad at this, but I know that whenever I’ve managed to do it, it was a great time-saviour in the morning! Next, every Sunday, sit down with a nice cup of tea and cookies and make a meal plan for the week. Maybe even go shop for groceries on Sunday as well, and pre-cook what can be pre-cooked. This saves time during the week, because who wants to be cooking their lunch every morning when you can barely force yourself to eat breakfast?
4. F I K A
The holy institution of fika is one of the best things, ever. Meet friends for fika on a regular basis, try out delicious cakes and don’t feel bad about it – it’s winter, it’s dark, you need it as a pick-me-up. 🙂 It’s so important to keep socializing during winter months even though all you want to do is fall into a bear-like hibernation.
Andac wrote a blog post for everyone who is new to the amazing concept of fika and you can read it here.
5. STAY WARM
Newsflash: Sweden can get quite cold during this time of year. What really helps keeping your mood up during the winter months is definitely staying warm and cosy. Aside from the obvious need to get dressed for the climate – after all “there’s no bad weather, only bad clothes” – one of my favourite ways to stay warm is to drink Nyponsoppa. Nyponsoppa is rosehip “soup.” It’s actually rosehip juice high in vitamin C (yay, vitamins!), low in sugar – I always buy the one without added sugar – and it’s a thing in Sweden. A lot of people drink (eat?) Nyponsoppa and other fruit soups. Pop it in the microwave for a short while, get some almond biscuits or pepparkakor (gingerbread cookies), grab a blanket, a book and you’ll have a very cosy and warm reading session.
6. CHRISTMAS MARKETS
Christmas markets, or as they call them here: julmarknad, are an awesome way to spend free time trying out delicacies and drinking glögg. The decorations light up the atmosphere and it doesn’t feel so dark and gloomy anymore. Oh, and Christmas markets here start as early as mid-November.
7. WINTER SPORTS/ACTIVITIES
Go skiing or iceskating! There are many activities you can do outdoors during winter time. Or, well, if you’re not so into doing things yourself, watch an ice hockey game while drinking hot coffee.
8. GET UP EARLY
Ok, this one sounds counter-intuitive. You’re thinking: how can I get up early when it’s so dark and cold and horrible?
I tried forcing myself to wake up early every morning because I realised it helped me be more productive throughout the day. This is because I feel like I do much more work before it gets dark at 4pm. It works! I’ve never been a morning person, but waking up early for this reason is quite helpful. You can also invest in those SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) lamps, if you think you need them. I don’t have one, but I guess it can be helpful.
9. HOME, SWEET HOME
After a long day at school, exercising and all those fikas with friends, coming home to a cosy place is one of the best feelings. Regardless of how big or small your student accommodation is, you can make your living space pleasant and mysig (cosy). Get candles, a fluffy blanket, maybe even a Christmas star for your window and enjoy your time at home. It also helps a lot if you always keep your place tidy, making you less stressed about constantly cleaning up.
10. EMBRACE IT
Yes, it can be depressing to wake up and turn on your bedside lamp because there’s just not enough natural light outside. I know. However, if you think about it, there’s so much you can do to feel good and get through winter like a Swede. And since winter is a big part of the Swedish lifestyle, embrace it – think of it as a challenge and do your best to enjoy it. It’s not that bad, after all. 🙂
Featured photo: Tina Stafren/imagebank.sweden.se