young women walking in autumnal park - stock vector
Mental Health

Dark evenings getting you down? Try the Nordic wellness trend of koselig

Forget hygge; here’s why koselig is the ultimate Nordic trend to embrace this autumn and winter. 

Once upon a time, we were all about hygge (pronounced ‘hue-gah’) – aka the cosy Danish concept that asked us to embrace JOMO and delicate our Pinterest boards to flickering candles, cashmere blankets, mugs of tea, and woolly socks.

Now, though, we’re embracing a new wellbeing trend from Norway: koselig. And, while it’s been dubbed by many as a sort of hygge 2.0, koselig’s emphasis on social interaction means it’s perfect for helping us get through the darker days of autumn and winter.

What is koselig?

As Ingrid Opstad, an award-winning Norwegian writer, puts it: “Koselig is a concept which is deeply rooted in our Norwegian culture. I would describe it as the feeling of coziness and being comfortable, but it often involves being in a social setting with others rather than being alone.”

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Opstad adds: “Koselig is, in many ways, Norway’s version of hygge, because both concepts are all about feeling cosy and finding joy in the little things. 

“Where I think koselig differs from hygge, however, is that it is even more focused on the social aspect as well – as a connection with nature and the outdoors.”

Norway, Senja island, rear view of friends standing on an observation deck at the coast - stock photo
While hygge is all about enhancing time spent alone indoors, koselig places a greater emphasis on social interaction.

Essentially, then, koselig might urge us to ramp up the comfort levels at home (loosely, the word translates to mean ‘cosy’), but, unlike hygge, it warns us off snuggling up indoors alone. Instead, it teaches us that social connection is not only possible when it’s dark and cold outside, but that it can even be therapeutic, too.

Considering that Norway has consistently made the top 10 of the World Happiness Index for years now, despite its brutal winters, we’re all ears.

How can we embrace koselig?

We usually think of summer as the season for socialising, thanks to the plethora of BBQs, festivals, and pub gardens on offer. And, traditionally, many of us become homebodies in the autumn and winter, preferring to spend our time on the sofa with a bevy of excellent new TV shows to get stuck into.

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However, while it’s important to carve time out for ourselves (it is, after all, how we recharge and energise), too much can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation – feelings which are only exacerbated by the oppressive darkness of the shifting seasons.

It is for this reason, then, that we should reframe the colder seasons as an opportunity to work on prioritising our close relationships, and use this time to forge a deeper sense of connection with loved ones.

What koselig-friendly activities should we try?

Now, we’ve spoken before about “friluftsliv” – another Norwegian concept which basically means being outdoors as much as possible, in a bid to boost our sense of emotional and physical wellbeing.

It makes sense, then, that true koselig devotees combine this with their need for human connection in the winter, bundling up in oh-so-cosy knitwear and meeting up with loved ones for crisp wintry walks, trips to outdoor markets and ice rinks, or drinking mugs of hot chocolate (al fresco, of course). 

Indeed, even something as simple ringing a friend for a chat while you’re pacing around the park on your lunch break is a good koselig option: as long as you get some natural daylight, you’re sure to raise your serotonin (one of your body’s feel-good chemicals) levels, which should help to boost your mood, not to mention your alertness and cognitive functioning

Millennial adult friends celebrating Thanksgiving together at home - stock photo
Once you have enjoyed a koselig-friendly activity outdoors, it’s time to come home and get cosy.

Once you’ve gotten that essential dose of vitamin D (we should all aim for at least 20 minutes outdoors each day), then it’s time to get warm, eat, drink and have fun. This could look like inviting your friends over for board games, going out for a pub quiz, tucking into a roast dinner, or finding somewhere that serves buckwheat waffles, if you want to get really Nordic about it.

A koselig encounter could even be something as simple as a communal viewing experience; perhaps a cinema date, or a movie marathon with lots of snacks, or weekly meetups to watch one of the excellent TV shows due to drop over the next few months from start to finish.

Is there a koselig aesthetic?

Hygge, as we all know, had a very distinctive Scandinavian look to it, thanks to its minimalist colour palette of creams and beiges, as well as its dismissal of ‘clutter’ in favour of fairylights, candles, and knitted blankets. 

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Koselig, on the other hand, is more… well, some have described it as being a lot like a ski lodge. You still want pools of warmth and light (so, yes, look to candles and fireplaces wherever possible), but it’s far less about the trappings and more about the mood; simple wholesome food, relaxing music, smartphones banished from sight, and lots of hot drinks – or boozy ones, if you prefer – to warm your cockles.

Hot toddy recipes: mulled gin recipe
Why not try serving up a hot gin toddy, for a true koselig experience?

Essentially, koselig is about being present in the moment with loved ones, with a heavy focus on eating, drinking, chatting, and playing after spending some time together in the great outdoors. So whatever you need to make this happen – be it communal snack bowls dotted around the place, a box for everyone to stash their phones in, or even a deck of cards or two – is key.

As someone who regularly hosts board game nights and drags people along with her for dog walks round the lake, come rain or shine, this writer will 100% be embracing koselig for a seasonally sanctioned rush of happiness this year.

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