How to Survive the Winter in Sweden

A handy guide

It is difficult, but not impossible. Sure, it is cold. Days are short. It can get lonely, especially if you are, like me, in a faraway region where there are no pubs, no bars, nor any kind of social life, or if you don’t practice any winter activity and don’t like much to be outside in the cold.

So here are a few rules that I made for myself during this period and that may be helpful for you too:

1. Seize the day

Profit from the short days by going outside every day, or at least staying next to a large window and using daylight. Days are very short, sun rises late in the morning and goes very soon in the afternoon, so you have about 5 hours of daytime, it is important to be outside or seeing light at least a little bit every day. Too much darkness generates depression and lack of Vitamin D. I made a rule to try to stay away from the computer when there is sun outside (but I don’t always obey this rule, it’s true).

2. Dress for the cold

Get a good hat that covers your ears, impermeable gloves that won’t get wet in the snow, sturdy but comfortable shoes, and a warm coat. Those are the most important. Then use several layers of clothing below the coat, and too pairs of socks if you need, too. After a while, you’ll get more used to the cold, your body adapts.

3. Do not fear “Omicron” (or whatever is the latest variant)

Look, I know there’s a disease, but people are paranoid thanks to the media and the governments terrorizing their own population. Be careful, but there is no need to live in constant fear. Diseases have always existed and always will exist, but most cases are not fatal. Not even cancer is 100% fatal. Omicron is a million times less fatal than cancer. Here where I am, it is far more likely that I can die by slipping on the ice and hitting my head than from “Omicron”. In fact just yesterday I slipped and fell and my knee is still hurting. It’s not very serious, but it’s more than “Omicron”, so far, ever did to me.

4. Exercise

Walk, bike, skate. Lift weights. I don’t know. Any kind of activity, indoors or outdoors, is good for you. Try new things: in the next days, I will try ice skating with nordic ice skates, over a frozen lake, which I have never tried before, and hopefully I will survive.

5. Eat Swedish food

Again, the rule here is not to be afraid of trying new things. Smörgåstårta? Raggmunk? Köttbullar? Toast Skagen? Surströmming? Gubbröra? Ärtsoppa? Kaka? Some of the names may sound funny, but the food is nothing to laugh at. Swedes are good at preparing delicious comfort food that is especially tasty in winter. Enjoy!