Three ways to deal with Nordic darkness

The dark and cold that autumn brings to Sweden can take quite a toll; even the Swedes sometimes have an urge to hide under the blanket in anticipation of spring. To help you prepare, below are some handy suggestions for how to handle—and embrace—the Nordic darkness.

Three ways to deal with Nordic darkness
Helena Wahlman/
Pick up some winter sports
In Sweden, many people engage in more or less casual outdoor activities throughout the year. During the early fall, for example, many Swedes go hiking and enjoy taking long weekend walks, and in the wintertime, cross country skiing and ice skating are common ways for many to keep active, socialize, and stay warm. Even if you don’t have a sports background, most of these activities are quite easy to pick up, and Swedes are normally delighted to help beginners take their first steps. To regularly get outside and get your pulse up is, in other words, a good way to get out of bed, energize, and make new sporty friends.
Get involved with a Swedish association
If you, nonetheless, would rather stay indoors, it is probably a good idea to still try to participate in some kind of collective activity. In Sweden, there is, for example, a wide range of sports and volunteer associations, most of which won’t require you to spend any time at all out in the cold. Although seeking out a Swedish organization of this kind might seem like a big step, in most parts of Sweden, people are in short supply. In other words, your local Red Cross committee or ping-pong sports team will, in all likelihood, welcome you with open arms.
Adopt the Swedish way of coziness
Throughout most of autumn, winter, and early spring, Swedes have a habit of expending tremendous energies on getting cozy with friends and family. Especially during night time, this time of the year, Swedes can often be found in their living rooms snuggling up under warm blankets with good food and wine, lots of flickering candles, and a good movie. Even if you don’t have a normal Swedish home to go to, getting cozy like never before is a safe way to fend off the winter gloom wherever you might spend your evenings.


Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

Ronoh Philip, who is studying for his masters degree in Infectious Disease Control at Södertörn University, explains why he thinks the Swedish concept of 'lagom' is the best way to achieve good social health.

Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

During my one week orientation program on August 2019 at Södertörn University, we were presented with many aspects of Swedish culture and practices. One of the new aspects that I learnt was the “lagom culture”, As I quote one of the presenters about applying lagom to our studies, he said: ”Lagom will reduce your stressful burdens of hectic lecture schedules and ensure that you spend equal time of working and socializing in the university.”

So being a student with a background in public health and society, I got interested and searched for the deeper meaning of lagom, and how it can  apply to society and health. I found out that it is a Swedish way of life, it is a concept which means not too much and not too little, just enough. I learnt that it came from a Viking tradition laget om which means 'around the group' and was allegedly used to describe just how much mead or soup one should drink when passing the bowl around in the group.

If this concept is applied to achieve social health goals, it would really fit well. So, what is social health at first? Social health is how you interact with other people and adapt in different situations, it deals with how people in society deal with each other. It is important to note that there is a close link between good social health and improvement of the other aspects of human health, this can lead to the achievement of SDG goal of good health and wellbeing. It also leads to self-satisfaction and happiness; no wonder Sweden is ranked as one the happiest countries in the world. It is ranked 7th in 2019, according to world happiness report. I believe lagom has a big role in this achievement.

In the country where I come from, Kenya, one of the greatest challenges we face in our society, is the ability for people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds to interact and form positive and cohesive relationships with each other. From my perspective, when I finish my studies and return, lagom will be worth implementing in the workplace, the place where I live and the society as whole, as it is the best way of finding simple, attainable solutions to our everyday worries like stress, eating better, having downtime and achieving happiness. It’s a balance of work and life, so everything is in sustainable existence with each other.

My goal during my entire university studies at Södertörn, will be to learn more about the lagom principle and also be able to apply it on our SI NFGL Local Network platform, because it is surely one of the best ways to achieve a good  work-life balance, reaching consensus with my colleagues and adapting a team minded approach in dealing with issues in an organization and the society.