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How to love November in Sweden (seriously)

The Local · 4 Nov 2015, 11:59

Published: 03 Nov 2015 16:53 GMT+01:00
Updated: 04 Nov 2015 11:59 GMT+01:00

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1. Get outside 

A Swedish couple taking an autumn stroll. Photo: Miriam Preis/Image Bank Sweden
It's dark, it's cold and in most places there's not yet any snow on the ground to brighten things up. But while it's tempting to spend the entire month on your sofa, going outdoors can provide an instant energy boost. So, when you spot a break in the clouds - however brief - get your trainers on.  According to the World Health Organisation "the sun's rays provide warmth and light that enhance your general feeling of well-being and stimulate blood circulation".
"Making a mental snapshot of a time when the sky is lovely helps me get through the greyer days," argues Angela Evans, an Australian expat in Stockholm.
"Really appreciate the little patches of blue sky when they come," she adds.

2. Put on your best clothes  

A Swedish clothes store. Photo: Amanda Westerbom/Image Bank Sweden
If you're not chilling at home in your sweatpants (and we did tell you to get off that sofa), most likely you'll spend much of November bundled up in big jumpers and coats. But how about layering up instead? Putting on your favourite shirt, dress or even pants underneath that down jacket could help lift your mood. One member of The Local's commercial team has even taken to wearing brightly coloured nail varnish to keep herself cheerful (and it seems to be working so far!).
"I have been collecting funny hairclips and earings to wear throughout the month," Karen Scheepers, a teacher from South Africa posted on The Local's Facebook page this week. Currently based waaaay up north in Vilhelmina, she also suggests simply thinking positively or "finding things to be grateful for" as often as you can. We like your attitude Karen.
3. Throw a party...or just go to one

Swedes getting festive. Photo: Helena Wahlman/Image Ban Sweden
Socialising is vital during November. Especially if you've followed our second tip. We wouldn't want you to be all dressed up with nowhere to go now would we.
"Meet friends, cook together, laugh together (...) even in November life is a precious gift," suggests one of our Facebook followers, Ute Olsson, who is originally from Germany.
If you're based in Stockholm, why not come and meet some new friends at The Local's very own Autumn Mingle at the Hard Rock Cafe on November 11th. Entry is free, but you'll need to sign up online in advance.
4. Exercise

Swedes enjoying Nordic walking. Photo: Sofia Sabel/Image Bank Sweden
"Work out like hell" is Stockholmer Erik Emilsson's top recommendation for surviving November and it's one that's scientifically proven. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins, which not only reduce your perception of pain but make you feel happier. Exercise can also help to reduce stress, improve sleep and have a calming effect on your body.
So why not join a gym or your local swimming pool? Or, you could do like the locals do and keep on hiking or running your way through the winter (although we suggest doing this with friends or joining a club, to make sure you stay safe). Doctors also recommend upping your fruit and vegetable intake once the colder weather arrives, even if your body's only craving cinnamon buns.
5. Light candles

Candles in a Swedish home. Photo: M
ikko Nikkinen/Image Bank Sweden
Okay, so you've been out walking, gone to the gym and hung out with friends. Now we'll allow you some time at home to embrace a typically Swedish autumn and winter tradition: candles.
Katrine Sundström, who lives in Södertälje, south of Stockholm, says she enjoys making her apartment cosy by filling it with warm flickering flames and celebrating the change in the weather.
"I love this time of the year, I approciate the dark - we need it after the long summer days. It's a time to rest, light candles (...) read a good book and drink good tea," she adds.
6. Get in the sauna

A Swedish sauna. Photo: Leif R Janson/TT
When the mercury is starting to hover around zero, jumping into a sauna is another great Nordic tradition plenty of you recommend trying at this time of year. Here you can warm up and sweat out the day's stresses. Most Swedish gyms include saunas (or bastu as the Swedes call them), while plenty of lakeside and mountain resorts also keep their coals stoked year-round. Depending on how brave you are, you could also try dashing out for what locals might describe as a "refreshing swim" afterwards. Many expats will alternatively blurt out the words "f**king freezing" once they've finally stopped shivering.
7. Stock up on vitamin D tablets

Tablets. Photo: TT/AP/
"Take lots of vitamin D" is Gothenburg-based reader Kaycee Keli's core recommendation for fellow immigrants grappling with November in Scandinavia. Vitamin D helps build strong bones and regular our neuromuscular systems. Our bodies produce it, but only after sufficient exposure to sunlight, which can be a problem if you live in the Nordics at this time of year. So, taking supplements can help to top up your supplies. You can also buy UV lamps which mimic the sun and help brighten your home or office as well as your mood.
8.  Snuggle up to someone special
Story continues below…

A cosy Friday night in Sweden. Photo: 
Ingvar Karmhed/TT
If you're dating, November is definitely not the time of year to break up with someone in Sweden. Bulgarian reader and Malmö University student Petar Chergarov credits his "loving and caring partner" with getting him through the dark month, while Laura Olofsson from Kalmar says she survives by watching good movies or listening to music with her husband or her pets. Cue the violins.
Know someone single? Give them a hug this month, they'll probably need it.
9. Leave the country (or at least your town)

An SAS flight. Photo: Ingvar Karmhed/TT
When the going gets tough, some people just get going. Our Twitter post asking for November survival tips quickly attracted responses from users suggesting mini-breaks in Tenerife, holidays in Australia, or even moving to California for the rest of the winter!
Heading abroad is all very well if you've managed to save both annual leave and money. But if not? The Local's tip is to jump on the train or in your car and check out somewhere different on home soil. After all, they say a change is as good as a rest.
Need some inspiration? Check out six of the cutest towns around the country you've probably never heard of, plus our list of the most underrated travel destinations in Sweden, as recommended by our favourite travel bloggers.

For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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