Sweden is known for its unforgiving winters. November is arguably the harshest month, as we're welcomed into winter with bitter winds and quickly-dropping temperature. With that in mind, make sure to check out these tips on surviving November.
No matter how much we try to avoid it, exercise seems to always be the answer. Surviving November can be a lot easier with reduced levels of stress, happier mood and better sleep cycles – all of which are scientifically proven effects of exercise. It will also make your 'fredagsmys' all the more rewarding. Try out a local gym or join a group class to get just a few hours of exercise per week. Don't want to make a dent in your wallet? Try doing what the locals do and run, walk, or hike your way around Sweden – no matter the weather.
Go for a run, even in the cold. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT
2. Pick up a new hobby
Pursue that interest that you've always wondered if you're any good at. Swedes are known for their ingenuity and creativeness – why not follow in their footsteps? Learn to cook a new Swedish recipe, try out a foreign sport, or challenge yourself with a creative project. Having a new-found passion will give you something to look forward to in November's dreary days.
We know it's not Lucia bun season yet, but no harm in practising? Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT
3. Stock up on Vitamin D
Make sure to get your daily dose of Vitamin D before heading into complete solar shut-down (okay, we may be exaggerating the Swedish winters somewhat). Make sure you get as much exposure to sunlight as possible, but if it's not enough, you can take extra supplements to give your body that fix to tackle whatever's coming your way. Vitamin D helps build strong bones, regulate your neuromuscular system and give your skin that lively glow (as lively a glow as you get in November).
Enjoy the sun every chance you get. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT
4. Spend time with people who love November
Have a friend or co-worker who is annoyingly excited about entering into winter? Try spending more time with them: their enthusiasm can be infectious. Research shows that happiness can actually spread from person to person. They can shed a new light onto November's dark days, and perhaps show you a new and enjoyable activity that can help you through this dark month.
Spend time with a friend who loves November. Photo: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se
5. Invest in new winter clothes
Every November you go through the same routine – getting that puffy, old jacket out from the back of the closet. This year, treat yourself to something you'll actually want to wear. Not only will it give you that support you need to bear the bitter weather, but it may give your mood and confidence an added boost. If you live in Stockholm, don't forget to check out The Local's ultimate shopping guide to the Swedish capital.
Buy a new winter coat, you'll need it. Photo: Gian Ehrenzeller/AP Photo/TT
6. Take a break and leave town
A change of environment is always good once in a while. Take advantage of a long weekend and escape to another place around Sweden or abroad. Taking time off from work or school will alleviate stress and is proven to improve your mental and physical health. You'll come back to Sweden with a fresh mindset, ready to handle the real winter. Or travel within Sweden – the weather won't improve, but your mood might.
Treat yourself to a mini holiday. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT
7. Use a light lamp
Fluorescent light boxes or lamps can replicate sunshine through white or blue light. These lights can be placed in your home or workspace and will emit fluorescent light at over 10,000 lux illumination. The past response has been so effective that light boxes are used as an antidepressant medication for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Just one hour of exposure per day will increase energy levels.
If there's no real light, try artificial. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT
8. Embrace it!
Light those scented candles, make yourself that hot cup of tea and buy yourself that fluffy pair of socks! Embrace the beginning of winter, because before you know it the sun will be right back up again. November doesn't last forever, so be positive about it while it's still here.
What more do you need than a fireplace? Photo: Malin Hoelstad/SvD/SCANPIX
Article by The Local's contributor Tilly Olsson in 2016 and updated in 2019.