What is Friluftsliv?

No matter how much of a city person you are, there is something magical that happens when you surround yourself in a lush landscape and leave the urban jungle behind. Is there a word for that? Yes!

Long before the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing became popular, the Scandinavians were spending their summers living a “free-air life” with their philosophy of friluftsliv. Put simply, it’s a return to nature. You can experience it by camping, backpacking, or hiking – as long as you get outside.

Being Present in Nature

Although there are significant benefits (which we’ll get to in a second), the focus shouldn’t be on exerting yourself or winning a race or doing better than those in your group. You are doing this to experience the sheer joy and beauty of your surroundings – basically your goal is to enjoy the moment. By doing this you can learn a lot about yourself and your surroundings, as well as connect with the natural environment. This is the true essence of friluftsliv.

Origin Story

The term friluftsliv was first used in print by famous Norwegian writer, dramatist and poet, Henrik Ibsen in 1859. Another important voice for friluftsliv includes 20th century Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess, founder of the deep ecology movement. In their work, they were able to capture Scandinavian culture in this single word. Scandis embrace nature and enjoy the outdoors as a way of life. Friluftsliv offers the possibility of recreation and rejuvenation that is essential on your journey toward holistic wellness.

Girl hiking with backpack

What are the Benefits?

This practice has both physical and mental health benefits. The activity can boost your immune system, increase energy, decrease anxiety, depression and anger, reduce stress, and bring about a state of relaxation. And if you do this with family and friends, it’s a great way to socialize and spend quality time with those you care about the most.

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