Hivernotherapy, or winter therapy, invites you to emphasize what is most beautiful about the cold season, to explore ways of appreciating it and taking pleasure in it.
Of course, practising a winter sport is a good way to keep your happiness level high throughout the season. Spending time outside is also one of the tips from the Scandinavian people to get through the winter successfully. In Norway, this is a real way of life: friluftsliv, or outdoor life, is of great importance, even in very cold weather1. It’s about doing the opposite of what seems intuitive in the winter: dressing warmly and heading outside or—better yet—into nature! Studies show that spending at least two hours per week outside (less than 20 minutes per day) is beneficial for your health and well-being, in addition to reducing stress and anxiety2.
If you are one of those people who appreciate the outdoors in smaller doses, hivernotherapy can also take root in the tranquility and moments of comfort that punctuate winter. Mindfulness is an accessible and rewarding way to focus on the pleasures of the colder months by letting yourself be guided by your five senses.
Cook your favourite dishes or enjoy drinks that remind you of your childhood by their scent or taste. Gingerbread and homemade cookies don’t need to be reserved exclusively for Christmas. Light a candle that will make your kitchen smell nice while doing the dishes, diffuse essential oils that will carry you away to where you want to be, to the heart of a spruce forest or to the beach.
Listen to music that makes you feel good— slower rhythms to accompany the snow falling in big, wet flakes on a January afternoon, or more energetic songs that make it easier for you to wake up when it’s still dark out. Go for a walk after a big storm and savour the sound of silence and the feeling of being alone in the world, even in the city. Pay attention to the sounds specific to our Nordic daily life: the melody of zippers and snaps while getting dressed to go play outside; the thud of boots on the ground while shaking them off to get rid of the snow; the door closing when a loved one comes back in after shovelling; the sirens of the snowplows that sound late into the night.
Wear warm, fleece clothing and soft, pretty, colourful socks, or wrap yourself in a blanket or a comforting scarf. Slip into flannel sheets after becoming one with the cold during a nighttime snowshoe hike.
Watch the snow falling, a movie that makes you feel good, the coffee percolating, the steam rising from the soup, the excitement in children’s eyes during the first storm of the season, the cheeks of your loved ones turned rosy from the cold.
Find poetry in the trivial moments of everyday life, even the more challenging ones. Appreciate the solidarity between neighbours when your car gets stuck in a snowbank, the tranquility of a busy day that suddenly slows down because of a little runny nose, the languor caused by the greyness and the lack of light which, in a certain sense, gives us more right than the rest of the year to do things that make us feel good. Let winter take care of you, in all its splendour and all its slowness.
Share your initiatives for experiencing hivernotherapy with us on social media with the hashtag #hivernotherapy.
1 NIKEL, David. “How to Embrace Winter Like a Scandinavian.” Online. October 24, 2020. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidnikel/2020/10/24/how-to-embrace-winter-like-a-scandinavian/amp/
2 White, M.P., Alcock, I., Grellier, J., et al. “Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated
with good health and wellbeing.” Sci Rep 9, 7730 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-44097-3