Take a Tip from Our Scandinavian Friends to the North, and Live This Winter Outdoors

November 2020

As the weather turns colder and many of us turn indoors, and turn up the heat, pause for a moment before grabbing that fuzzy blanket and heading for the couch with your phone and mug in hand. Though 2020 has been a less than banner year, it has had some silver-linings. One of which being the amount of time Americans are now spending outdoors. The popularity of most outdoor recreation has been on the rise since the beginning of COVID-19, with people looking for ways to safely keep busy and stay active. And it’s not just our country with a newfound affinity for outdoor leisure time; many others around the globe have been enjoying the great outdoors in order to stay safe. In fact, in Norway, spending time outside throughout the year is a way of life. They even have a term for this “open-air living,” friluftsliv.

Friluftsliv, or the celebrating of every season in fresh air, is essential now more than ever with the possible resurgence of the pandemic, and the approaching winter months converging, to create a need to move more of our everyday activities outside. The winter months alone can be mentally debilitating for some, and coupled with the possible need to quarantine, at least for short periods, our mental health deserves extra attention. Research shows that spending time outdoors can increase mental health and reduce stress. There is a reason the Scandinavian countries always top the list of the world’s “happiest places to live.” So now is the time to bundle up and explore this Nordic concept, and with a plethora of outdoor activities at our fingertips, your next endorphin high is within reach.

From walking your pup in the rain, to sitting around the fire pit and sharing a cup full of cheer with friends, living more of your life outdoors can be simple yet impactful. And for the more adventurous types, our area hosts numerous outdoor adventures to consider. So, when faced with the dilemma of socializing indoors and increasing the risk of infection, or heading out into the brisk winter air, take a tip from some of the happiest people on the planet. It will make that snuggle on your comfy couch, wrapped in a fuzzy blanket with a warm mug of cocoa, that much more enjoyable!

Our very own Monmouth County Parks system also offers an array of programs and activities to keep you and your family enjoying friluftsliving all season long. Their offerings appeal to all age groups, and skill levels, from novice to accomplished outdoorsman. To explore the parks’ activities further or to register for a program, visit the Monmouth County Parks System website.

Some of the outdoor programs offered this winter include:

  • Hikes
  • Walks
  • Birding
  • Winter beach campfires
  • Winter picnics
  • Cross country skiing

The parks also offer numerous exciting activities, when conditions are favorable, that do not require pre-registration:

  • Sledding at Holmdel Park
  • Ice skating at Holmdel Park, Shark River Park, and Turkey Swamp Park
  • Ice fishing at the Manasquan Reservoir, Thompson Park, and Turkey Swamp park.
  • Cross country skiing and snowshoeing (equipment rentals available at Thompson Park)