Stockholm in winter

Beating the winter blues: tips to survive through the winter

Winter has officially enveloped Sweden, painting the days with dramatic shortening, streets blanketed in thick snow, and winter blizzards swirling through the air. But hold on tight because, alongside these breathtaking snowy landscapes, lurks the notorious winter depression, affecting more than half of Sweden’s population. As an international student stepping into the world of Scandinavian winters for the first time, conquering this seasonal challenge became my paramount concern. I’m excited to share my survival guide for triumphing over the winter blues in this blog post.

Be active and have a healthy lifestyle!

Let’s kick things off with embracing an active and healthy lifestyle! I’ll be the first to confess the allure of becoming a winter couch potato. The cozy comfort of staying home, wrapped in a blanket, sipping on a hot beverage, and indulging in movie marathons can be irresistible, especially when icy streets, freezing air, and limited daylight beckon. However, the importance of staying active cannot be overstated – it’s not just for physical well-being but also a potent defense against winter depression.

Now, if the idea of hitting the gym doesn’t quite appeal to you, fear not! Studies suggest that a daily one-hour walk in the middle of the day can be a game-changer in combating the winter blues. Plus, you’ll bask in that precious sunlight, a natural mood booster. Speaking of sunlight, did you know it aids in producing Vitamin D in our bodies? Given the limited daylight hours in Sweden, consider incorporating Vitamin D-rich foods into your diet or seeking advice from healthcare professionals about supplements.

Gym equipment (Photo credits: Victor Freitas)

Enjoy the season!

Moving on to enjoying the season! Stockholm unfolds a myriad of winter activities to elevate your spirits. A personal favorite of mine is the skating rink in Kungsträdgården. Imagine gliding around like an ice princess or prince amidst Christmas lights and decorations. And the best part? It’s free if you bring your own skates! For an extra dose of holiday cheer, venture to Gamla stan. It’s like stepping into a cheesy Christmas movie, complete with snow-covered streets, festive tunes, and a Christmas market offering delectable treats like hot wine, gingerbread, and hot chocolate.

Christmas market at Gamla Stan (Photo credits: Martin So)

Socialising with friends!

Now, let’s not underestimate the significance of hanging out with friends! Winter’s chill can make it easy to feel isolated, intensifying the winter blues. Socializing is the antidote. Make it a point to meet up with friends regularly, face-to-face. Social media might offer convenience, but nothing beats the warmth of in-person interaction. Go for a cozy fika at a local café, explore the malls, hit the gym together, or plan engaging activities like a dinner at a local restaurant or a home-cooked feast.

I understand that the first winter in Sweden can be challenging for international students. Perhaps you’re finding it hard to make friends or are struggling with the bone-chilling winds. Rest assured, there are countless activities and groups here to help you feel better. Take a step outside your door and immerse yourself in the experiences awaiting you.

Fika with friends (Photo credits: Martin So)

As we conclude this survival guide for navigating the Swedish winter, remember that winter is not just a season to endure but an opportunity to embrace. Yes, the days are shorter, the air is colder, and the streets are covered in snow, but there’s a unique beauty in the tranquility of winter landscapes and the warmth of winter festivities.

In closing, my fellow international students, don’t let the winter blues overpower you. Stay active, relish the season, and, most importantly, surround yourself with good company. Whether you’re gracefully gliding on an ice rink, savoring hot chocolate at a Christmas market, or sharing laughter with friends, the Swedish winter holds a wealth of joy. So, bundle up, step out, and make this winter a season of unforgettable experiences and newfound resilience. Happy wintering! ❄️🌟

Martin - Health Informatics

Martin - Health Informatics

I am Martin, 27, currently studying Health Informatics at Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm University. I’m passionate about using data science to improve human well-being. Discovering this programme was a pivotal moment, and I've found it to be one of my best decisions. The programme is enriching my network and perspectives by hosting talks with alumni, government representatives, and startups. An interesting fact about me is that I once aspired to be a curator and artist specializing in Chinese art.


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