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Survive The Winter Like A Finn

Updated: Dec 15, 2022

Finland may have many merits but it is certainly not globally recognised as a warm destination where you go to enjoy the warm days while sipping a glass of glögi. Consequently, since the winter season is just around the corner and for many it will be the first, legendary, Finnish winter, we would like to give you some tips and strategies to deal with a time of year that is objectively tough for those not used to deal with it.

1. First of all: clothing.

There is no jacket in the world that alone will keep you warm enough, especially when the temperature reaches the fateful -10°C, -15°C or even -25°C for a short period, yes, even in the southern Helsinki. The Finnish recipe is about layers, the more layers you have the better you will be able to cope with such drastic temperatures; starting with a simple t-shirt as a base when the temperatures are still manageable, up to technical clothing when the cold becomes more intense.

A simple pair of underpants to put under your jeans can save your life, believe me, do not underestimate this simple piece of clothing at all.

The secret to not having cold feet, but it is also quite intuitable, is to avoid your socks getting wet as much as possible; first of all, it is widely recommended to wear two pairs of socks, the classic sock at the bottom and as the outermost layer a wool sock that can keep your feet warm, and as I said before the trick is to stay dry.

Consequently, you will necessarily have to wear a pair of shoes that are first and foremost warm, but absolutely important that they are waterproof and able to provide you with an adequate grip on the layer of ice that you will inevitably step on when you walk on the streets, no salt or gravel can keep you dry. Unless you want to become an Olympic champion of apocalyptic slips, guarantee yourself adequate grip, even possibly by buying those spiked lugs to put under your soles. That's a good investment.

A beanie is highly recommended, the head is the point from which we disperse most of the heat, and covering the ears is also essential because they are one of the extremities that freeze before in our body.

And then of course gloves and possibly another thinner pair to put at the base, we always go back to layers.

2. Be visible.

The Finns are not known for having extravagant and colourful clothing; on the contrary, in order to avoid being run over when crossing the street on dark days, they wear - you may have noticed - small reflectors hanging from their jackets or backpacks, this is precisely to be seen by motorists and not to risk coming to a bad end. They can be found in all supermarkets and are extremely cheap.

3. Moisturise your skin.

One thing I have noticed living in Helsinki is the amount of cold, dry wind that we normally face, key among other things being the extremely lower perceived temperatures than the actual ones. Here, this wind is unforgiving, and in no time at all, hands, lips and face will inevitably be dry or worse. Consequently, keep your skin moisturised with creams that are possibly not water-based (because they freeze and would do more damage to you than anything else), equip yourself with lip balm and the fear passes.

4. Embrace the darkness.

One extremely useful and also interesting thing I found out is that Finns try to mimic sunlight in order to counteract the gloomy winter days, many have one of those lamps that mimic sunlight, but the ones specifically for this purpose are unnecessarily expensive, a good tip I read is to get smart bulbs or at least those that you can change the temperature, they work just as well as the 'solar' ones.

Another reason why we are more gloomy and less energetic when it gets dark very early is because we are deficient in vitamin D, to remedy this just go to any pharmacy or well-stocked shop and buy tablets to supplement what the lack of sunshine no longer provides us with naturally.

5. Be active.

I know very well that with -15°C the last thing you want to do is take twenty minutes to get dressed and go out with friends, but it really is a great way to fight the bad mood and produce the serotonin that our bodies crave so much so that we don't end up as dark as winter nights, so grab your friends, your partner, your loved ones, and go and do some uniquely wintery activity: go skating on frozen lakes, go skiing, have a nice warm sauna and then dive into the frozen waters. Home is warm for sure, but it is also potentially our number one enemy when you are alone to manage this uninspiring environment.

Also, another great tip I've read is to make the most of the few sunny days that there are during the winter, take a nice sun bath those few times the sun is out.

Rest assured that it is nothing transcendental or insurmountable, with a little preparation and proactivity you can fight and get the best out of even such a seemingly poor period of stimulation or things to do, just be prepared to experiment.



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