What is Friluftsliv?

Embrace the great outdoors and spend time in nature to improve your mental, physical, and spiritual health. Here's the Westbury guide to the Norwegian concept of friluftlsiv.

Have you heard of friluftsliv? When COVID forced us all to spend more time at home, many of us adopted the ever-popular Hygge mindset from Scandinavia without even thinking about it. We subconsciously made our homes more comfortable, which was the natural response for many of us as we hunkered down with our families. Adjusting to a slower pace and learning how to appreciate the simpler moments is what the nordic trend is all about, and Hygge certainly lent itself well to lockdown life.

Now, we’re in a third lockdown; it’s been icy cold and grey, and January seemed to last an age. With the first signs of Spring still a way off, we find ourselves desperately missing life as we used to know it. We want to go on adventures and be in the fresh air again. Enter: Friluftsliv.

Friluftsliv is the new Hygge

Friluftsliv is a Norweigian lifestyle that honours our basic need to get outside and connect with the great outdoors. It’s a philosophy that has been deeply engrained in Norweigeon culture for over 5,000 years. Books on the subject talk of finding real harmony with nature, and becoming one with your outdoor environment to improve our well-being and encourage productive self-reflection and mindfulness.

The term friluftsliv was first used in print by the famous Norwegian writer, dramatist and poet, Henrik Ibsen in 1859. Another vital voice for friluftsliv includes 20th-century Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess, founder of the deep ecology movement. For Scandinavians, it’s about living a wholesome life outdoors, marvelling at nature’s beauty and embracing the rejuvenation and holistic properties that come from being in the fresh air.

It’s normal for Norweigian families to plan regular exploits and expeditions in the wilderness. Their love of friluftlsiv can be found everywhere, even in the entertainment world in the form of the viral Slow TV (Sakte-TV) which focuses on seemingly mundane outdoor events such as a train journey or watching bird’s eggs hatch. Parents send their children to friluftlsiv kindergartens to enjoy lessons outside. The rain doesn’t stop outdoor living, as everyone has plenty of good, waterproof clothing suitable for the conditions.

Make like the Norwegians and enjoy the benefits of outdoor life.

There are plenty of physical and mental health benefits to friluftlsiv, and it’s no wonder that the country always has such a high ranking among the world’s happiest places. Like the Japanese who love Shinrin-yoku, (forest bathing), Norwegians believe that the activity boosts your immune system, increases energy, decreases depression and brings about a state of relaxation. Setting aside designated time for friluftlsiv every day demonstrates a commitment to wellness and mindfulness, to create balance and prioritise your own needs first and foremost.

How to friluftlsiv

It’s not easy at the moment, particularly when travelling is restricted, but there are ways you can start small. Instagram has had a considerable impact on the way people interpret friluftlsiv in the last few years and it only takes a simple search to find images of people balancing on rocks or standing on the edge of cliffs. For many, this perspective contrasts with what friluftlsiv is all about. Forget about Instagram, step away from your screens for a moment, and look at how you interact with, learn about and experience nature.

In his recent book Friluftsliv: Connect With Nature the Norwegian Way, author Oliver Luke Delorie offers some fantastic advice. Adopting this Norweigan philosophy doesn’t require you to conquer nature by exploring national parks, climbing up glaciers or swimming in icy fjords. No matter if you’re a city slicker or suburbanite, friluftlsiv is something that everyone can readily embrace. Perhaps try a simple walk with family in the woods, or sit wrapped up in blankets with a book and a steaming cup of Earl Grey in the garden. Instead of ordering lunch to be delivered on a windy workday, embrace the wild weather and walk down to the local bakery. Swap geography homework for nature walks and look for wild landscapes around your home to explore as part of your homeschooling schedule.

Uteplis. Noun [OOh-ta-pliz]. 1) a Norwegian word that literally translates to ‘outdoors lager’ (from ute ‘out, outside, outdoors’ and pils ‘lager’).

One aspect of what we do at Westbury is to design a garden room that brings nature into the client’s home, with lots of sunlight streaming in through the glazing and expansive views of the garden and grounds beyond. We always encourage clients to choose double French doors or bi-folding doors for their garden rooms, which can be opened up to create a beautiful flow between the indoor and outdoor spaces.

Of course, when conditions permit, there’s no substitute for living your life outdoors. Consider investing in a Westbury pool house, a beautiful firepit, or an outdoor kitchen by H|M. Creating a relaxing space in the garden that feels layered, multi-functional and that make sense for your family’s needs.

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