Inspire(d) Ideas -

Make the Best of Winter!

Coming from a Norwegian town like Decorah, Iowa – home to many people with Norwegian heritage, and Vesterheim, a national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center – we’re reminded often of the wonderful ways those Scandinavian relatives embrace winter. It’s truly inspiring to think that winter can be something to look forward to – not just get through.

So consider this your annual reminder to live winter like a Norwegian, where there are parts of the country that experience “polar nights” – winter days where the sun doesn’t make it over the horizon. The farther north you go above the Arctic Circle, the more polar nights there are. Tromsø, a town 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle, has 60 polar nights in a row.

So, you know…we don’t have it so bad.

Over the years, these Northern Norwegians have learned a thing or two (or 20) about fending off wintertime blues.


Here’s a fun Norwegian word for you: friluftsliv (free-loofts-liv) – literally meaning free air life. On a concept-level, it means understanding the joy and health you can find by spending times outdoors, no matter the weather. It can mean long walks with friends, bundling up for a winter picnic, taking the dog for a walk…anything that gets you outside, enjoying nature.

So… make sure to get outdoors every day – even just for a short walk. We all need that fresh air! Breathe it in and think about how great it feels. And repeat.

Feeling extra motivated?

Great! Heart-pumping exercise is helpful for enjoying winter (and life) as well. Rent or borrow some outdoor snow-fun gear and try something new like snowshoeing, cross country skiing, or ice skating.

Play in the snow!

Sledding, snow angels, snowball fights, snow forts, snowboarding, snowmen…make a fire in your fire pit and invite friends over for a distanced, outdoor hang-out.

Sign up for a virtual race – lots have gone online these days, which can be a bonus, because there’s more flexibility! Plus, there is still some camaraderie because you’re all doing it – even if you’re all in different places.

Okay, but is it icy?

Fifty degrees below with windchill? Fine…just pop out for at least a bit of fresh air, then get your exercise indoors. Try doing an online yoga video or learn all the moves to your favorite dance video.


Remember the other Norwegian word we’ve talked about in past Inspire(d)s? Koselig (koos-uh-lee)! Koselig is more than being cozy – it’s a mentality and a way of life. You’re encouraged to look at obstacles – like an impending long, dark winter – as a challenge full of opportunities to grow and adapt. It’s about getting outside, living the friluftsliv way, and also making things feel warm and comfortable inside.

There are many ways to get koselig, and it’s easier than you might think.

Make some bright spots – literally, with lights! Turn on cozy lamps, put up a string of fairy lights, light some candles, and get that fireplace rolling (if you’ve got one).

Grab your favorite mug and fill it with hot cider, coffee, cocoa, or tea – it doesn’t matter what you choose, but it’s more koselig if it’s steaming hot.

Snuggle up under a blanket (the bigger and comfier, the better) and pull on some warm, fuzzy socks or slippers. Then cozy up with a favorite movie.

Bake bread, cinnamon rolls, cookies, cake… anything, really…warm oven + the smell of fresh baked goods + eating fresh baked goods = koselig.

Wash your sheets and clean your house – a tidy and clean space can make you feel cozier – and happier – than ever!

Play a board or card game – something without electronics to give your brain a break from the screens.

Train your brain to think of winter as something we are fortunate to experience, and winter will start to feel more fun – you’ve got this!