Friluftsliv is the new lifestyle trend for 2021 we're embracing (sorry, Hygge)

It may be even more unpronounceable than hygge, but this open-air living trend is making us feel a little bit more positive about the new year

(Image credit: Neptune)

If you haven't heard about Friluftsliv yet, we promise that you very soon will. The other major part of Scandinavian living, Friluftsliv translates roughly as 'open-air living' from Norwegian and is the outdoor cousin of the very popular hygge trend. 

On a very simple level, the former is all about hiking, skiing, and sleeping in a tent, where the latter is all about knitting and hot choc in front of the fire. 


(Image credit: Future)

On a deeper level, though, both trends are about happier, healthier living in the moment, and Friluftsliv isn't just for hardcore hikers or camping enthusiasts. In fact, it is possible to embrace this lifestyle even if you don't have access to wild spaces – your local park or even your back garden will do very nicely. 

Partly, Friluftsliv is about simply spending more time outdoors, whether that involves a picnic, a dinner, or just a drink outdoors with family or friends. With most of us unable to socialise indoors at the moment, making more use of our gardens has never been more welcome. Cold weather needn't be deterrent – just add more blankets, dress in more layers, and warm up in front of a fire pit. 

To paraphrase a Norwegian saying, there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. Or that's the theory, anyway.


(Image credit: Neptune)

But for those who really don't fancy spending time outdoors on cold evenings, Friluftsliv still has a lot to offer – namely, the opportunity to brings the outdoors in, which includes plants, botanical-themed decor, and, last but not least, a change of attitude towards winter. 

A Stanford psychologist calls this a 'positive wintertime mindset' that looks for 'opportunities' rather than drawbacks in the dark season. This change of mindset can be about something as small as appreciating the beauty of frost or entering your warm home after a brisk walk. The author of Friluftsliv: Connect with Nature the Norwegian Way, Oliver Luke Delorie, also talks about how simple activities like a Sunday walk in the park or watching a snow storm can improve our wellbeing.  

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(Image credit: Polly Wreford)

Friluftsliv is also about giving yourself a chance to disconnect from the digital world in order to reconnect with the real world. As Dayna Isom Johnson, Etsy Trend Expert, puts it, '[a]s we continue to experience lockdowns and social distancing restrictions as a result of the pandemic, Friluftsliv offers them a connection to nature and its calming, grounding effects. And in an increasingly technology-filled world, many are finding ways to step away from their screens and appreciate the outdoors more than ever.'

Like other proponents of this lifestyle trend, Dayna emphasises how easy it is to try out for yourself: 'Friluftsliv is all about embracing nature and making the most of the outdoors, whether it’s discovering a new hiking trail, brushing off a bicycle, or simply bringing indoor elements – like cozy blankets, serving trays, or accent furniture – outside to create cozy yards, patios, stoops, or balconies.'

So, even if your outdoor space is a small urban patio, Friluftsliv is still very much for you – you'll just need to reframe how you think about winter (and maybe get a fire pit to keep warm).

Anna K. Cottrell is now a freelance writer, having previously been a Content Editor for Future's homes titles. She writes about interior design, property, and gardening. On H&G, she specialized in writing about property – buying, selling, renting – sustainability and eco issues.