Today’s Solutions: November 26, 2022

To help people cope mentally with the idea of another winter lockdown, we shared a story a couple of months ago about the “Tromsø” mindset—a positive way of thinking about the long, dark winter that people experience in the Norwegian city of Tromsø.

Today, we’re going to take another page out of the Norwegian mental health book to help you learn how to socialize in the cold without being miserable. In Norway, the art of embracing the outdoors, regardless of the weather, is known as friluftsliv. It’s a good art to learn, especially since it’s much safer to socialize outdoors during the coronavirus age. To practice the art of friluftsliv, here are 5 tips you have to keep in mind.

Bundling up better: You want to wear clothing that is loose enough to allow for good blood flow while providing enough layers so that you can adjust the amount of insulation you have as your comfort level changes. Your innermost layers should help wick moisture—think thermal undergarments—while the middle, the insulating layer should be something like fleece or wool to trap heat. Lastly, the outer layer should be dedicated to blocking wind, rain, and snow. If it’s really cold, don’t forget some gloves, a beanie, and a scarf! As the Scandinavians say, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.”

Mind over misery: If you’re not used to spending time in the cold, you might find it inherently miserable. But rather than focus on the discomfort, there’s a better alternative: acknowledge all the sensations, then move on. When you simply recognize what feels cold without adding any story or narrative to it, it can be easier to tolerate.

Find something fun to do: Don’t just stand in the cold. Get moving! Incorporating physical movement into socializing will keep everyone toasty, and it’s just fun to do something together. Whether it be something as simple as a walk through the park or a daring cross-country skiing trek, being out in the cold is a lot more tolerable when you have something fun to do.

How to sit in the cold: OK. We accept that if you just want to socialize with people, you might not want to be moving the whole time. Of course, you could get a propane patio heater or sit by a smoky fire pit, but those come with environmental downsides. So, how can you stay reasonably warm if you’re sitting outdoors? One way is to bring a blanket or cushion to sit on rather than planting yourself onto a cold surface like the ground or metal bench. Even resting your feet on a cardboard box rather than the ground can help you stay warm. Another tip is to just wrap yourself up in a sleeping bag, which will concentrate all your body heat in one place.

Eating and drinking: Enjoy eating? That’s perfect—eating is a superb way to keep the body’s furnace running. Opt for something with high-calorie content to allow the body to produce metabolic energy. Scandinavians will also tell you that a little booze will help you keep your mind off the cold. That’s because alcohol is a vasodilator, opening up the blood vessels near your skin to give you a boost of warmth. Just be careful: that blood will rapidly cool at one point, which will cause your core body temperature to lower. If you’re on a winter camping trip, alcohol, in particular, is “an absolute no.” Better to stick to hot cocoa!

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