Battle winterdepression

Battle winter depression by learning from our Norwegian Neighbours

Lack of light, shorter days and longer nights often have a negative effect on the best of us. Spring and summer are widely considered ‘the best’ seasons, providing us with much anticipated sun and fun. But according to psychological studies by Kari Leibovitz (who spent a year in Tromsø, where the sun often doesn’t rise at all), we would all battle winter depression a lot better if we would act a little more like our Norwegian neighbours.


Past research has proven that the people of Tromsø suffer from winter depression a lot less than expected from a town at this latitude. That is because people consider this period something to be enjoyed, rather than to be endured.

Leibovitz found out she was asking the wrong questions for her paper – colored by her own prejudices based on her cultural background (which is climate-wise probably more similar to yours and mine). But not until one of her newly gained friends reminded her that summer necessarily isn’t the best season.

Instead of complaining about the weather until the first signs of spring become apparent, the town of Tromsø embraces winter for all it has to offer. The start of skiing season, watching the Northen lights, and enjoying koselig (the Norwegian word for ‘cozy’) times with friends and family with the candles lit. They take what the season offers them, rather than decide to sit it out, waiting for ‘better times to come’.

So how can we battle winter depression by learning from our Norwegian neighbours?


Making things koselig

Start with a good base

A woman I consider a most-valued mentor once mentioned to me that whatever your financial situation might look like, you should always invest in a bag of tealights. They cost next to nothing and they can make any room look warm (and romantic!) with literally a flick of your lighter; especially in larger quantities! Get some nice candle-holders to put them in and re-stack them regularly.

Feast not only your eyes but also your sense of smell by getting a nice scented candle or some fragrance sticks. Currently my favorite scent is “under a fig tree” by Rituals – a quality brand which is also cruelty-free.

Invest in a little bit of comfort by buying some nice throw pillows which allow you to sag away on the couch, or even on the floor. The same counts for a nice throw blanket. If you’re lacking inspiration, research Scandinavian interiors and pay attention to the sort of materials and fabrics used. I collected some beautiful examples on the Want for Wellness Pinterest account, but if you want to take immediate action, you can always run to the nearest Ikea and purchase some “Ludde” sheep-furs (which are in fact by-products from the meat industry)!

Invite your friends and family

Besides the obvious holidays, summer seems to be considered the best season to be with your friends and family. Being outdoors is great, but after you’ve made your house koselig, being inside can be just as lovely! Enjoy the company of your loved ones under a thick blanket on the couch, bake a cake with your little cousins or whip out the board-games*.

* My brother has a knack for finding interesting board-games for adults: My current favorites are “Betrayal at House on the Hill”, “Ticket to Ride” and “Letters from Whitechapel“.  


Embracing the season

Don’t be one of those people who always complains about the weather

Now this is apparently something typically Dutch. The weather seems to be our favorite topic for smalltalk – and usually revolves around our complaints about how dreadful it is. Spring rains? Awful! A five day heatwave? Excruciating! Winter snow? Even an inch of powder is enough to get the largest annual traffic-jams and for the railway company to decrease the number of trains on the tracks. Complaining about the weather seems to be our cultural heritage. But take this advice from me: Don’t be Dutch. Complaining constantly never made anyone happier.

Ask yourself how you can fully make use of what winter is giving you

Have you been toying with the idea to give your bedroom a makeover, or to clean out the attic? This might be the time to do it, so you won’t have to spend time inside during the summer when you’d rather be outdoors. The same counts for a thorough clean of your house. Why would you aim for a big spring-cleaning if you spend most of your time indoors during the winter? When you consider it, “fall-cleaning” or “winter-cleaning” might suit you better.

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How do you battle winter depression? Share your tips in the comments!


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