5 Ways to boost your happiness in winter

Susannah Hickling

Scandinavian winters are even darker and colder than ours, but Nordic people are among the world’s happiest, according to this year’s World Happiness Report. So what can we Brits learn from our Nordic neighbours?

1. Make time to socialise

Swedes embrace the concept of “fika”, which translates as “to have coffee”. But it’s more than that. It means connecting with others. So sit down, put your phone away and really focus on the conversation.

2. Cycle often

The Danes in particular are keen cyclists— almost a quarter of journeys in Copenhagen involve a bike. But cycling doesn’t just get you from A to B; it’s an excellent cardio workout that will help develop core and lower body strength. An added bonus: studies show it’s good for your mental health too.

3. Serve up Nordic nosh

You’ve heard of the Mediterranean diet, but now it seems that the Nordic diet can bring health benefits too. It’s all about whole grains and seasonal, regional food—think rye bread, berries, root vegetables, seafood and free-range organic lamb, beloved in Iceland. For a creamy but low-fat yogurt packed with protein, try skyr.

4. Embrace "hygge"

In northern Scandinavia, the days are short and the nights are long and cold during autumn and winter. That’s what makes “hygge” so important. There’s no direct translation, but it describes a warm, cosy and relaxing atmosphere. How to achieve it? Try sharing a home-cooked meal, lighting candles for dinner or enjoying a walk after work.

5. Spend lots of time outside

Scandinavians believe it’s good to be outside in the fresh air—whatever the weather. So create as many opportunities as you can to wrap up and enjoy nature.

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