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Winter is not only a season that we must endure, but an opportunity to take back control of how we live, how we love and how we feel.

Winter is starting to bite and it's time to take action. Living in a Nordic country, where winters are dark, cold and feel as though they last forever, I have learned the importance of taking care of both my physical and mental health. Despite having lived in Scandinavia for almost two decades, learning the language and attuning myself to new customs, embracing winter still doesn't come easily to me. Despite having Nordic DNA three generations back, I hate being cold and feel lethargic in the darker months. However, with the right mindset, a pair comfortable boots and rain-clothes, I have learnt to tackle my winter blues head on.

My own version of a "Nordic diet," includes finding happiness and contentment through valued friendships, small gestures, and pleasurable moments. Since adopting this approach, I can say that my life has transformed for the better. My coat pockets are stuffed with hats and gloves. My swimsuit is packed in my backpack, ready for some mid week icy plunges, and my bicycle has been serviced. Two extra pairs of gloves are stashed in the panniers together with some chocolate. My lambswool insoles are already in my boots which help keep my feet toasty and warm. As an age precaution I add extra milk to my diet, make sure I stick to regular meal times and eat a rainbow of foods. Wine gums and Skittles don't count! I have one or two lesser-known weapons that tackle winter head on. By embracing the Scandinavian concepts of sisu and hygge, I prepare myself both physically and mentally for the winter season. Why not join me in mindfully harnessing the best of Nordic culture to kick start a pattern that will see you glide through winter and beyond while staying healthy, happy, and resilient.

Originating from Finland, Sisu is all about tapping into our inner strength. We are resilient and determined by nature, but often give up through lack of motivation or self-belief. Imagine having the strength to push through challenges or even mundane tasks and never give up. Sisu isn't just about mental strength. We can't only will ourselves, we must have some strength to carry out tasks. By engaging in physical exercise and activities, we prepare our bodies daily for what may be required. Brisk walks, strength training or stretching all help. This boosts our mood and energy level and builds strength and stamina. Stand on one leg while brushing your teeth, take the stairs, walk the extra mile, do whatever you can to stay active and build muscle tone. A healthy body is half way to good Sisu. Mindfulness, and learning to slow down our thoughts, can produce clarity and calm. By breathing deeply, we can stay in control of stressful moments. I recently met a friend who is undergoing treatment for cancer. When I mentioned that I was impressed with her strength, she shrugged and said that deep breathing got her through the most painful and invasive parts of the therapy.

After all that Sisu, we need to head back to a sanctuary of comfort, and warmth. That's where Hygge comes in. By creating the right atmosphere, we feel content and safe. There is so much more to life than material objects. The Danish art of Hygge reminds us to find joy in simple pleasures and to creatie a space of well-being in our homes. During the winter months bring out your favourite blankets and cushions, change lamp bulbs to a warm glow and use candles (safely) for ambience. Make your own space cosy and inviting. A favourite cardigan, a pair of luxurious warm socks and a mug of hot chocolate all serve to make us feel relaxed. Use cinnamon for both aroma and blood sugar, prepare nutritious soups, casseroles, and roasted vegetables. The autumn and winter variety of seasonal foods are often reasonably priced and delicious. Join your local library and read a good book. Stream your favourite films and share quality time with friends and family. Sleep is essential and during the darker months we naturally feel more tired. Embrace this and get some quality sleep. By incorporating these practices into our daily lives, we can all navigate winter with a sense of purpose, control, and well-being. #forestbathing #foresttherapy #sisu #hygge #emmastrandbergbooks #wherethefuckisblonduos #fullybooked #palamedespr #PRScribe #winterwellness


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