• Sweden's news in English
Winter in Sweden
How to beat back the Swedish winter blues
John_DL/Flickr; Jerry MagnuM Porsbjer/Wikipedia; Stephanie Hofschlaeger/sxc.hu

How to beat back the Swedish winter blues

The Local · 18 Nov 2015, 11:37

Published: 20 Dec 2011 11:37 GMT+01:00
Updated: 18 Nov 2015 11:37 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The trees have been stripped bare of their leaves, it's cold, and the clocks have gone back.

And it’s dark. Very dark.

It's at this time of year that some of us begin to wonder, with some justification, why on earth we live in Sweden.

Living in northern latitudes means that, by mid-December, there is approximately two hours' less light in Stockholm compared to, say, London or Brussels.

But if you think the light situation in the capital or the south of Sweden is bad, spare a thought for the very far north of the country where, above the Arctic Circle, residents may not see the sun for two months.

The winter gloom can be hard to deal with – for Swedes and foreigners alike.

But don't despair, there are steps we can take to help us cope with so-called vinterdepression.

1. Take a brisk walk

Photo: Eduardo Mariz/Flickr 

Coming to work in the morning in the dark and then leaving after sundown is a sure recipe for winter depression. Try to get out for at least forty-five minute walk at midday in order to soak up some sunlight. Popping into a café for a morale-boosting hot chocolate doesn't hurt either.

2. Sleep

Photo: Stephanie Hofschlaeger/sxc.hu

Many northern residents sleep ten hours a night on average during the winter compared to just five or six hours during the summer. If only total hibernation were an option. Did we mention an increasing number of babies are born during the summer? Perhaps sleep isn't the only way to get through the long Swedish winter nights.

3. Get outdoors

Photo: Jerry MagnuM Porsbjer/Wikipedia 

Summer isn't the only time for outdoor pursuits. “There’s a lot of fun activities you can do, like cross-country skiing, ice-fishing, ice-climbing or just a cozy ski-trip in the forest,” says Jokkmokk resident Björn Nordkvist, who also suggests checking out the Northern Lights.

4. Light and other therapies

Photo: Jürgen Howaldt/Wikipedia 

While the Northern Lights might not alleviate SAD, installing light therapy boxes that replicate natural light may help. For romantics, meanwhile, candles can also help to beat back the blues. If you are really suffering medications such as melatonin and other antidepressants is available via prescription – though the jury is still out on just how effective they are.

5. Diet

Photo: ezioman/Flickr

A healthy diet is beneficial in keeping mentally fit during the long winter months. A daily dose of cod liver oil – rich in vitamin D – is a staple of mine when in northern climes. So buy from the supermarket or get your ice-fishing gear out and stock up on those fatty acids. Increasing your fruit intake can also boost your immunity to the murkiness.

6. Events

Photo: Bengt Nyman/Flickr 

Story continues below…

Winter is not a time to bunker yourself in your apartment. Try and attend as many events or exhibitions as possible. One option is Gothenburg’s new three-kilometre-long “Lane of Light” – an outdoor light display. Or perhaps a show at Stockholm’s Stampen jazz club.

7. Escape

Photo: John_DL/Flickr 

Don’t forget you’re only a flight away from escaping the gloom. In fact, many Swedes escape to warmer climes such as Thailand and the Mediterranean for a couple of weeks in order to soak up the sun. However, the strategy may be considered cheating by inveterate northerners – which leads to one final piece of advice.

8. Attitude

Photo: stoic/Flickr 

Learn to like winter! Attitude is important and a healthy measure of stoicism can see us through the winter months. Isn’t it true, also, that we enjoy the coming of spring that much more after the deprivations of winter? Luckily, we've only got a few months to go!

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Swedish researchers plan new trucks for women drivers
File photo of trucks in Sweden. Photo: Thomas Johansson/TT

Could vehicles adapted for women attract more female truckers to the profession?

These stats show Swedish driving isn't so gender equal
File photo of a Swedish woman driving a car. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

A new survey shows that few Swedish women get behind the wheel when driving with their male partner.

Revealed: Game of Thrones could be coming to Sweden
Game of Thrones cast members at the Emmy Awards in September. Photo: Jordan Strauss/AP

The producers of the hit show have asked for three rounds of location pictures of Swedish island Gotland.

Prime Minister to meet Swedish troops in Iraq
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and his Kurdish counterpart Nechervan Barzani. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden's Prime Minister Löfven is set to meet Swedish troops in Iraq on Tuesday.

Swedish politicians wage war on winter time
Soon it will look like this on your way home from work in Sweden. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Should Sweden stick with summer time all year round?

'Don't turn the Pope into a global teddy bear'
Sweden's Queen Silvia and Princess Leonore visiting Pope Francis in the Vatican last year. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

It's time to hold the Pope to account and make sure he turns his words about reform into action, argues a minister of the Swedish Church ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Sweden.

Löfven: 'Sweden will double its number of troops in Iraq'
Stefan Löfven and Haider al-Abadi during the visit on Monday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has promised to double his country's number of troops in Iraq following a meeting with Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi on Monday.

Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
Should Swedes think fairtrade with porn? Photo: Karin Malmhav/SvD/TT

A fairtrade attitude to pornography would be beneficial, Sweden's health minister told The Local.

Presented by Stockholm University
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

Nordic fashion took centre stage in the Swedish capital last week as Stockholm University hosted the “first-ever” academic conference looking at luxury and sustainability in the fashion industry.

Referee, coach and parents in Swedish youth football fight
File photo of a referee holding a red card not related to the story. Photo: Stefan Jerrevång/TT

A football dad broke his leg in the brawl in front of 11-year-old kids after a Hammarby youth football game.

Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
People-watching: October 20th
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
jobs available