Scandinavian Concepts for Balanced Living

The Scandinavian countries are known for living in a balanced way. Embracing the outdoors, getting fresh air, and celebrating the simple joys are all practices the Scandinavians prioritized pre-pandemic, though these habits seem even more pertinent today.

Whether you’re currently in Scandinavia and want to learn more about living locally, or are simply looking for ways to switch up your routine, these Danish and Swedish phrases and philosophies can be incorporated into your everyday – wherever you are.

Allemannsrätten (Swedish)

Allemannsrätten is the democratic principle, protected by law, that Sweden’s natural environment belongs to everyone. The right to public access offers an opportunity to explore all the country has to offer. At the core of allemannsrätten is the freedom to roam, whether it’s hiking, exploring by kayak, or picking berries and mushrooms from the ground. This is specific to Sweden, though whether you’re traversing the Swedish countryside or in your hometown, this concept is all about exploring and engaging with your local surroundings.

Højt humør (Danish)

Humør refers to your temperament or state of mind. Højt humør translates to ‘high spirits’ and refers to when you’re happy, in a lively mood, and inspire others with your positive mindset.

Surdej (Danish)

Denmark is known for tasty pastries and delicious bread. Surdej, sourdough, is one of the oldest forms of grain fermentation and is essential to making rugbrød, rye bread. Danes have been eating rye bread for over a thousand years, and it is widely considered to be a staple of Danish cuisine. In the past year, the Scandinavian tradition of making homemade bread from surdej has regained popularity.

Friluftsälskare (Swedish)

Scandinavians are reputed for their love of the outdoors, and have many words to describe the passion for getting into nature and observing flowers, trees, and animals. Friluft literally means ‘free air’ and älskare means ‘lover.’  You can also be a friluftsmenneske, which directly translates to ‘free air person’ – or a person who enjoys the outdoors.

Vinterbadning (Danish)

The Danish trick to well-being and happiness! Vinterbadning, which translates to ‘winter bathing,’ is a popular activity in Denmark, and involves taking a dip in the nearest sea or lake in the middle of the winter.

While plunging into icy water might not be for everyone, many Scandinavians swear by the health benefits. The cold water triggers a shock that sends a surge of endorphins and adrenaline into your blood. The reward? A head-rush, tingling sensations, and immediate pain relief, as well as inner warmth and raptures of joy.

Though winter bathing might not be the first thing on your bucket list, embracing the winter season – rather than seeing it as something to simply endure – is something we can all get behind.

Svenska visor (Swedish)

Swedes have a long tradition of singing Svenska visor, Swedish songs, with friends and family at gatherings such as during midsummer, crayfish parties, Christmas, and Easter. Most Swedes, young and old, can join in with many of the old visor that are passed on through generations.

At gå en tur (Danish)

If you step out to the streets of central Copenhagen, you’ll see many Danes on walks, either on their own or with a friend. Particularly for students, it’s important to take breaks and gå en tur (take a walk).

When it comes to taking walks, a little goes a long way! Whether you treat it as a form of exercise, relaxation, or a chance to catch up with someone, incorporating walks into your daily routine is a great way to feel refreshed.

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