When I first moved to Sweden, one of the most common questions I was asked was if I’d ever experienced one of Stockholm’s infamous winters.
I’d been lucky enough to visit the city twice before, but both of those visits came in the summer. When I’d shake my head no, I would immediately be warned of the horrors of the cold, the rain, the darkness, and the suboptimal conditions that I would have to live with over the next few weeks and months.
But I took it all with a grain of salt.
Before we moved abroad, I’d spent four years (and another four while in University) living in Ottawa, Canada, a region that routinely saw temperatures plummeting to -35C in winter. So, I wasn’t exactly a stranger to lands of ice and snow.
I figured if I could survive a winter in Ottawa, I could survive a winter anywhere.
The first few weeks that I lived in Stockholm the weather was akin to Ottawa in fall (or Vancouver in fall, winter, spring…) – grey and rainy under full cloud cover. I thought, if the weather stays like this, I’ll have no problems. Even as the temperatures started inching their way towards zero, I remained smug, I got this.
Then Daylight Saving Time hit.
And the sun started to set at 3:15 PM.
That’s when it hit me: Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, winterwise.
Winters in Stockholm don’t typically see the extreme temperatures that I’ve experienced in other parts of the world, but they are extreme in their own right. The Darkness, as they refer to it, is very much real and it’s easy to see how experiencing only a few hours of sunlight each day could drive anyone insane.
Thankfully, I’ve found a few key ways to not only survive but to thrive this winter in Sweden.
How to Survive Winter in Sweden:
Take Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for a healthy body as it helps fight off diseases (like the flu) and depression, and helps your body absorb calcium.
Unfortunately, in the winter months, sunlight in the north doesn’t contain enough UVB radiation for our skin to produce vitamin D on its own. To survive winter, pop by your local pharmacy (or Apoteket) and pick up a vitamin D supplement that you can take each morning.
Adding a little extra vitamin D to your diet will help you stay healthy and happy throughout the cold and dark winter months.
Get A Happy Light
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is common in most places that don’t get a lot of sunshine in winter. This lack of sunshine can leave us feeling sluggish, tired and can result in mood swings and even depression. One way to combat SAD is to trick your body with a Happy Light.
These lamps emulate natural daylight that helps you to boost your mood, concentration and energy. Spend just a few minutes each day in front of one of these lamps and you’ll banish those winter blues.
Yes, hygge is a Danish word and concept, but it’s perfect for Swedish winters. It’s all about feeling cosy, comfortable and content within your present environment, and there’s really no better time than the winter to practise the art of hygge.
Cozy up with a cup of tea, wrap yourself in your favourite blanket and light a candle or two (or twenty) and enjoy all that winter has to offer from the comforts of your living room.
Staying active is great advice no matter the time of year, but it’s particularly important in winter. The season is full of delicious foods and indulgent drinks which makes it oh-so-easy to become a permanent fixture on your couch.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good meal and TV sesh, but it can be all too easy to fall into a rut of sluggishness that can make the winter feel interminable.
Making the effort to stay active, even if it’s just a walk around the block, will do wonders in helping you survive winter.
One of the best ways to survive winter is to make the most of it. Get up! Get out! And enjoy every drop of sunshine you can, even if it is for just a couple of hours a day.
What are your best tips for surviving winter?
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