How to survive Polar Night in the Arctic

Simon was so kind to explain all and everything about polar night not long ago and while he described a few of the many things you can do here during the dark months as a tourist, I'd like to write about how we who actually live here cope with polar night.

Now first things first, those who have grown up with polar night, like Simon, don't really have any issues with this time. Of course, the darkness makes everyone a little slower and more tired but generally, Norwegians quite enjoy the dark winter. 

It's the time to finally lit candles again, eat good food and get comfortable in front of the fireplace - hygge or how Norwegians call it, kos, at its best!

For us expats who've moved to the High North though, polar night can be extremely tough. I personally don't cope so well with it to be honest. I've already suffered from seasonal affective disorder back in Germany so you can imagine how much I love polar night... not. 

I unfortunately also always get vitamin D deficiency during polar night so I have to take supplements to get my body to function as it should. 

All in all, not very pretty BUT the darkness doesn't necessarily have to be depressing. There's quite a few things you can do to lift your spirits during polar night and I thought I'd share my coping strategies with you today, in case you plan on moving north as well or are just interested in what it's like!

 

1. Fooooooood

Nothing more comforting than good food, right?! And polar night is the perfect time to indulge yourself in it. I mean, for once there's Christmas so you can bake lussekatter or other Scandinavian Christmas goodies.

how to survive polar night

Then in January, it'll still be dark and cold so you can easily hide your belly. Now you get why polar night is the perfect time not to diet, right?!

 

2. GETTING COSY AT HOME

Gloomy winter days are perfect to snuggle up at home with candles, a blanket and a good book or movie. The Danish hygge has its Norwegian equivalent in kos and I live up to it every weekend!

 

3. Spa Day

Something that I like to do in winter beside eating tons of food is going swimming and visit the solarium. 

Now I'm not sure whether solariums actually help you to get vitamin D or not but just the warmth and light of it makes me feel like I'm on a mini-vacation and at the beach. It's just really good for your soul (in doses - we don't want to get sunburned or worse, look like a porn star).

Swimming, or any other exercise, is also great to fight the polar night blues. I get that it's a bit tricky to combine eating tons of food with having to show yourself in a bathing suit (and shower naked, thank you Norway) but that's just something you should ignore.

In fact, I actually think that the "being forced to shower naked in Norway thing" makes you feel way less conscious of how your body looks like cause everyone is doing it, regardless of age and shape. 

 

4. Cruising the Fjords

I think the most important thing to do during polar night when you're feeling a bit down is to soak up as much light as possible. If you're like me sitting in an office without windows to the outside world all day, that's pretty difficult.

But if you have time on the weekend, get out! Now hiking does get a bit difficult with the snow and going for a walk equally so with the ice, so getting away from land and on to a boat is just perfect!

You can go on a fjord cruise in Tromso and they ususally start really early giving you the chance to soak up all the daylight! And did you know that you could even go on a spa cruise in Tromso?

That's definitely something for my polar night bucket list!

 

5. Whale-Watching

Did you know that you can only see whales in the fjords around Tromso during polar night? 

how to survive polar night

The whales follow herring to feed on and it so happens that the herring began to spend the winter in Tromso a couple of years ago, which soon made the whales follow along. You can now go on whale safari between late October to early February but make sure to pick a company who respects the whales!

 

6. Skiing

Norwegians' favourite activity and I still haven't quite figured it out yet: skiing! You can go skiing in Tromso anytime during winter as many slopes are lit - how great is that?! There are even people who use these slopes to ski to work! 

how to survive polar night

I myself have tried and failed miserably but I'm determined to give snow-shoe walking a try this winter! Exercise is said to really help with depression and that goes for polar night blues as well!

 

7. ICE-SKATING

During our weekend stay at Tromso Camping last winter, we discovered an ice-skating rink on the mainland which neither of us knew about before. Of course we had to give it a try!

I hadn't been on skates for 10 years at that point so I had to use those little helping-aids to get me started. I looked like an old lady but when I finally figured it out after 2 hours, I had so much fun! Definitely will be trying it again this year!

 

8. Coffee Dates

People like to get cosy inside when it's cold and snowing outside and what's better than a lunch date at a cafe to drink some coffee, eat some cake and catch up on what's been going in your friends' lives lately.

#coffee#cortado#monday#enjoyment

Ein von Risø Mat og Kaffebar (@risomatogkaffebar) gepostetes Foto am

One of the favourite cafes of many locals in Tromso is Risø. They are said to have the best coffee in town and I wouldn't disagree!

 

9. Go to the movies/theatre/concert

Tromso is by no means as boring as its remote location in the Arctic would suggest. There's always lots going on and especially in January, there are tons of events like the International Film Festival or the Polar Night Marathon.

Of course you could also simply go to the movies or get tickets for a theatre play! Last year, Simon and I went to see a musical based on the film "The Full Monty" which the local theatre set to play in Northern Norway - and of course they didn't leave out the naked bits ;)

It was a lot of fun and the theatre in Tromso always offers something special for Christmas. This year you can see "A Christmas Carol" at the theatre.

 

10. Go on a hunt for the best Christmas decorations

Last but not least, all the Christmas decorations surely lift your spirit on those dark days. Tromso doesn't have a proper Christmas market like you'd know them from Germany or the UK but there are Christmas-themed farmer's markets on the market square at weekends and the city centre is decorated everywhere.

how to survive polar night

I'll publish a "follow me around christmassy Tromso" video on Youtube soon so make sure to subscribe to my channel if you wan't to watch it!

 

How do you get through the dark winters? Leave a comment below!

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