The Ultimate Scandinavian Survival Guide for Lockdown

survival guide for lockdown

Here we are again, trying to cope with restrictions tightening around us and lockdowns being announced left, right and center. Tough times require soft actions! And as a national of one of the happiest countries in the world, I wanted to share my ultimate survival guide for lockdown. The Scandinavian way!

Uncertain times have a nasty way of making our mental health spiral to an unwanted direction. We find ourselves worrying over even the most insignificant things because around us the world is on fire. But is it, though?

I want to show you that with couple tips from your Scandi friends life can be easy even at hard times. I’ll provide you with 1 tip from each country! But before we proceed I need you to decide that you will get through everything that’s going on. Yes, it’s a decision you make!

And you will do that by focusing on the only thing that you can control in this life: this moment, right now. Because right now you are okay, you are alive, there’s food in your fridge, you’ve got a roof on your head and your loved ones are (hopefully) well.

Now, I want to share this ultimate Scandinavian survival guide to lockdown with you as a native Scandi. And it’s mainly because I have seen so many false interpretations of the Scandinavian lifestyle. So, let’s dive right in:

survival guide for lockdown

The Ultimate Scandinavian Survival Guide for Lockdown

In this survival guide I will present to you one survival technique from each country, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. At the end of the day these techniques are extremely simple and easy to perform. The trick is your mindset.

If you try to ‘perform’ these like a work task, you will fail. So first up, let go of any need to achieve anything, this is not a competition. This is ultimate self-care and wellbeing.

Hygge (DAN)

Like so very often, the Americans were super fast to commercialize this part of the Danish lifestyle. The American interpretation had everything to do with selling stuff, and making money out of the idea of comfort. “Buy this hygge pillow and feel better!”


That’s what the American version of hygge was, a complete and utter FAIL. Because actually hygge is the complete opposite of what they made out of it. Hygge has absolutely nothing to do with material things, and instead is all about a mindset, a feeling. In particular the feeling of comfort and unity.

If you think about it, how do you achieve a feeling of comfort? It has everything to do with feeling secure and grateful in that moment. Then let’s add a social element to this. When you’re in a group of people and you feel secure and equal, and there’s a spontaneous flow of conversation, THAT’S hygge!

This can be achieved by having a brunch at home with your partner or best friends. Or in my case, I could give our family Christmasses as an example. We get together with cousins, aunts and uncles, and chill. Enjoy the moment, discuss, laugh, eat well. Simple and so hygge.

survival guide for lockdown

Lagom (SWE)

We live in a world of excess. We have too much, we buy too much, we waste too much in terms of time, material and energy. As much as I agree with Lady Grantham’s quote in Downton Abbey in terms of styling my outfits, “Nothing succeeds like excess!“, it’s a mindset that creates misery.

Material things will never make you happy. Money can make life less stressful, but when the want turns into greed, unhappiness ensues. That’s why we all need lagom in our lives!

The literal translation of this Swedish word is “not too much, not too little – just enough” or “a sensible amount“. It’s about knowing your own limits!

So, in terms of the ultimate survival guide for lockdown, I’d like you to ask yourself a simple question: What is enough? What amount of money is ‘enough’ for you right now? Not tomorrow or next year, right now. What amount of clothes in your closet is enough? What amount of ornaments on your bookshelf is enough?

Don’t get me wrong, lagom is not a minimalist lifestyle choice. It’s a way to bring balance in your life by replacing the need for material things with contentment and gratefulness for what you already have.

survival guide for lockdown

Friluftsliv (NOR)

Finally this year it was time for Norwegians to rise up to the lifestyle charts with another Scandinavian lifestyle concept! BBC recently reported on the Scandinavian way to survive winter, and that technique is called friluftsliv.

Literal translation of this word is “living free in the open air”. It has everything to do with understanding how connected we really are to the nature around us. And most of all, enjoying and appreciating it!

Scandinavian people spend a lot of time in nature. That’s a big reason why their wellbeing stats are so much higher than elsewhere!

Last time in Finland I filmed a video on my Instagram stories from my morning run. I was deep in the woods and had just had an encounter with a woodpecker hard at work. And I found myself marveling at the bird and the incredibly beautiful forest around me.

I am so completely grateful for having grown up in a country where nature and wild life is everywhere, close by. I know how to survive in the wild and I know how much nature provides us.

Even in countries where you can’t go foraging or hunting and fishing for food, the nature gives you a lot that you take for granted. Clean air, natural stress relief, and exercise grounds that are free of charge. Adventures, discoveries and so much to experience.

This is what friluftsliv is about, living in harmony with the natural world around us. Not abusing it, not destroying it, not taking it for granted. Do you really need to lose all nature before you realize how important it is? Get out there and get acquainted with it!

survival guide for lockdown

Kalsarikännit (FIN)

If nothing else works for you, this last chapter in my ultimate Scandinavian survival guide for lockdown will. This includes a little bit of hygge in the sense that it’s done at home and it’s all about feeling comfortable.

The literal translation for ‘kalsarikännit’ is pants-drunk. The technique for this is to wear something comfortable, which for us Finns can be just underwear and nothing else. Then open a bottle of your favourite wine, a cider or a beer and get cozy.

To make kalsarikännit extra special, light some candles and choose the best feel-good movie you know. Dive deep into the feeling of comfort on your safe couch, and after the bottle is empty, you don’t have the mind or the energy anymore to worry about anything. Other than going to bed.

I myself practice this most Fridays. If I’ve got no plans I tend to buy myself what I like to call a ‘Friday Bottle’. It’s my reward to myself for successfully executing another week.

But I don’t necessarily drink the whole bottle on Friday. And this is where lagom comes into picture: I drink as many glasses as feels adequate and appropriate. Not too much, not too little, just enough to reach a state of relaxation.

How does it sound? Could any or all of these Scandinavian ways of looking at life be an option for you as well? Let me know in the comments below, and let’s chat!


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