Life can be free. Like friluftsliv!

Wednesday afternoon at a company office in Oslo. It’s not 5 pm yet but the employees pack their bags. It is time to get outside and immerse into nature. Altogether. Company policy you see. This is official and many companies in all the Nordic countries do this. It is a perfect example of what they call “friluftsliv”.

If you happen to know some German, you might get it. If not, you might correctly guess that this is another Nordic concept that has been gaining traction. Not only in the Nordics but around the world. You see, the more digitally connected we are, the more we need nature. Right? But what is this friluftsliv craze all about?
Blame it on Ibsen!
The direct translation of the word means “open-air living”. It was first mentioned by famous Norwegian playwright and poet, Henrik Ibsen, back in the 1850s and was used to describe the importance of spending time outdoors, in nature, for physical and mental well-being. Since then, this concept has been popular all over the Nordics, in part due to the “allemansrätten”. This is the right of all citizens to walk or camp anywhere in the country, given they pay respect to nature, animals and people living there.


But probably the main reason friluftsliv became so popular is the Nordic geography itself. Fjords, mountains, forests, lakes, rivers, islands and the sea, they are all in abundance in the Nordics. And also very close to virtually all their people. In Oslo, it takes only a couple of minutes with the metro to get to the forest surrounding the city. You can go kayaking in Copenhagen’s canals or do sauna in the frozen sea waters of the Helsinki harbour.
Mind the gap!
Although friluftsliv can be as simple as going for a walk by the lake, it also requires mindfulness. In an age where we are all constantly connected with the internet and our mobile phones. we need to be really present when in nature. Disconnecting from the digital world and connecting to the natural environment with all our senses can be most beneficiary for our mental well-being.


Such is the value that people in the Nordics place on being in nature that some businesses are even super flexible with their employees’ working hours to facilitate friluftsliv: they can enjoy nature during (the little) daylight in winter and work when it’s dark. It’s no wonder that more than 1.7 million Swedes are members of local and regional friluftsliv clubs and more than half of all Swedes have a summerhouse in the forest or by the sea.