Socially Active Hibernator
By: Katie Lineer
Winters in Trondheim can be tough! The lack of sunlight takes its toll on the vitamin D stores we have accumulated over the summer months. All of downtown becomes one giant ice-skating rink as everything is covered in ice. The humid, cold climate enters our bodies down to the bone, which encourages the instinct to hibernate.
Hibernating is exactly what Norwegians do! They have modernised the idea of hibernation into the concept and ideology of ‘coziness’ – also referred to as ‘koselig’. Every Norwegian has their own idea and recipe for ‘koselig,’ but nothing is wrong since it is a state of well-being rather than set of instructions to follow.
The mindset of koselig is much needed during the dark, cold winter months. Especially for those of you, who, like me, are not originally from Trondheim. My home state of Minnesota (USA) has a harsher winter climate than Trondheim, but we have more sunlight during the winter. This lack of light affects my mood, and I have a natural tendency to get the winter blues. Hence the need for good self-care rituals!
Daylight on my face, every day
This self-care ritual of mine is essential for long winters. I go outside when there is sunlight or overcast skies. Just 15 minutes spent outside, every day, can improve my mood. It is also a way to take a break during work and study, to feel the warmth of sunlight. I also have a daylight lamp in my bathroom that I turn on every day as I get ready during the darkest months of November to January. This feeling of real, or even synthetic sun on my face has had a huge positive impact on my mood.
Vitamin D is an important vitamin for keeping your mood balanced. It might be hard to feel that koselig feeling if you are lacking vitamin D. There are many ways to get vitamin D. I take supplements, which my doctor has recommended (consult your doctor first before adding a new supplement to your diet). Another way you can boost your vitamin D uptake is through ‘tran’ (cod liver oil), which many Norwegians take daily for its health benefits.
However, if you ask me, the most koselig way to get that vitamin D boost is by making hot chocolate with oat milk and dark chocolate, which are both good sources of vitamin D2. I can honestly say that I make a damn good hot chocolate. Here is my luxuriously simple, cheap and easy hot chocolate recipe:
Oat milk in a large coffee mug
3-4 pieces dark chocolate ( I use Freia’s Dronning sjokolade from the baking section of the grocery store)
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
5-6 fresh peppermint leaves (optional)
Instructions: Put the chocolate pieces (and vanilla extract) into the coffee mug and fill with oat milk. Place mug into microwave and heat for 2-3 minutes until milk is warm and chocolate has melted. Then add in honey (and mint if desired), and stir. I bought a cheap hand frother which I used to mix the drink, which is my way of making a café-quality drink on a budget. In short, adding extra Vitamin D into your routine can also be ‘koselig.’
One aspect of koselig that Norwegians have perfected is interior design. This is especially true in winter, visibly evident in all the Norwegian interior magazines lining the shelves of stores like Narvesen. I have also experienced it firsthand when visiting my Norwegian friends. As a Minnesotan, I was in awe of how cozy Norwegians kept their homes during the winter. Picture this – you walk into the house and lights are dimmed so you can see and feel the effects of candlelight as it dances on walls and ceilings. There are many candles lit around the entire house, but not too many. It’s usually about three on each surface. As you move toward the couch you notice the comfy pillows piled, some with soft knitted-woolen blankets thrown over the pillows invitingly. The colours of the house are not saturated, but inviting, giving a sense of warmth. Closer to Christmas there are clementine oranges, nuts, and even caramelised almonds set out on the table. In its totality, this makes for a warm and koselig atmosphere. The idea of hibernating all winter becomes even more inviting.
This experience of entering my Norwegian friends’ homes was so delightful. I never wanted to leave and was usually the last to do so, soaking up every minute. This prompted me to realise I finally needed to 'koselig-fy' my own apartment. I first started by copying others, and it was nice but not quite right. Something was still missing. I then realised that I loved my friends’ spaces because I love my friends and their spaces reflected them. I needed to make my space koselig in a way that reflected me!
For my space to reflect me and be cozy, I needed warm blankets and comfy pillows on the couch. In contrast to my Norwegian friends, they needed to be bright colours and colourful patterns. I enjoy candlelight but prefer more light, so I got a dimmable lamp. I also hung som Christmas lights over the curtains in the windows. I like to draw and read so I made a koselig corner in my apartment where I have a short bookcase, a chair, and a high bookcase. The chair sits between the middle of the two bookcases. It is a space that invites anyone to sit down and grab a book.
Again, the concept of koselig is a state of well-being. Interior should also reflect you and your tastes. Taking inspiration from Norwegian culture is a great start, but also remember to include items, colours, textures and smells that give you a feeling of ‘home’. Designing a winter haven for yourself in the place you live will help you beat the winter blues.
Footbath (for everyone)
One of my favourite self-care rituals is taking a footbath. This provides a spa feeling I love, without blowing my budget. A footbath can be very simple or can expand into an entire experience. The simplest footbath requires you to find a container that fits your feet and fill it with hot/warm water. Pretty simple. However, to give myself even more of a spa feeling I use essential oils for relaxation such as lavender and bergamot. Just a few drops of each adds an aromatherapy effect as they fill the room. Another option is to add epsom salt (magnesium salt) into the footbath, which in theory is absorbed by your skin. I personally noticed that it helps my aching feet and helps my entire body to relax. If I add epsom salt to a footbath before bed, I get a good night’s sleep.
My perfect at-home winter experience
This experience is me sitting in the bookcase-corner covered in my bright yellow woolen blanket. My luxurious homemade hot chocolate is sitting on the bookcase next to me, as I take a footbath and draw in my sketchbook. This is my ideal version of koselig! Taking time for myself in this way is one of my favourite self-care rituals during the winter.
Sometimes I share my perfect koselig experience with my samboer/ partner or friends, who also love it. The difference is that we might sit on the couch and watch a movie together or just hang-out and catch-up. This also brings me to my next important aspect of self-care during the winter: engaging in social activities with friends. It can be difficult to get your friends out of their own cozy homes. Maybe a creative night might intrigue them enough to venture out and try something new?
Creative nights are a concept I started two years ago with my friends. As a graphic designer and art teacher, I wanted a creative outlet outside of work. The focus of a creative night is to come together, be social and be creative, without pressure. I tell them to just start playing and not focus on making a final product but enjoy the process. PLAY!! These moments of playing together – whether working on the same project or separate – provides a feeling that keeps my heart warm for days afterwards.
Pull-quote: Let’s be S.A.H (socially active hibernators) instead of S.A.D (seasonal affective disorder)!
What a creative night might look like:
Invite your friends over to your place, or meet digitally. They can bring a creative project of their choosing along, or you can organise an idea or theme for the night. For instance, we sometimes work on vision boards, sculptures, or even paint a canvas together. On digital nights everyone combines their own projects such as knitting, drawing, bike repairs, etc. Projects can be anything and everything.
Creative nights open space for people to be social and creative, whether you are together or apart.
If you do not have the physical space to hold a creative night, you can always book the conference room at ‘Bøker og Bylab’ for free. Any event that you in their space on Elgeseter gate must be open to the public, so this would be a great opportunity to make new friends! Especially if most of your friends are also hibernators.
All the experiences I have described are opportunities for you to test out and find your own koselig experience! The most important aspect is finding new ways to incorporate self-care, which is very important during the winter months. This can take time and some experimentation, but I encourage you to embrace the hibernation instinct and create your own sanctuary at home, and with others.
If you find the winter to be very tough, I encourage you to reach out and talk to someone about it. One of the best ways to help yourself is to ask for help and support. Never be ashamed to say “I need some help.” This can be one of the biggest gifts to yourself if things get overwhelming. Everyone needs a little help sometimes and that is ok. It is also ok to not be ok. Take care of yourselves and please share your koselig self-care rituals and experiences with us at #thelisttrondheim #koselig.