Well-Being//

How Embracing the Dutch Idea of “Uitwaaien” Can Help Boost Your Mood and Energy During Winter

Move over, hygge.

Pasichnyk Anna / Shutterstock
Pasichnyk Anna / Shutterstock

There’s no shortage of science on the positive impact nature can have on our lives. Getting a healthy dose of sunlight can boost our mood and help us get more restful sleep. Living near green space can offer some protection from depression and stress. Spending time near the water has been associated with an improved sense of physical and emotional health. Now, thanks to the Dutch concept of “uitwaaien” (OUT-vwy-ehn), we can add taking advantage of windy weather to the list of well-being perks.

The term, which literally translates to “outblowing,” refers to spending time in the windy outdoors, usually by taking a walk or going for a bike ride, Caitlin Meyer, a lecturer at the University of Amsterdam’s department of Dutch linguistics, tells Nautilus. “Uitwaaien is something you do to clear your mind and feel refreshed — out with the bad air, in with the good. It’s seen as a pleasant, easy, and relaxing experience — a way to destress or escape from daily life,” Meyer explained. 

Sure, it may require abandoning the warmth and coziness of your home or even your office, but proponents of uitwaaien swear it’s worth it — as doing so can give you an invigorating boost of energy, sharpened focus, and even help you cope with stress. Here, four tips to channel “windy city” vibes — or at least just get a dose of fresh air — no matter where you live:

Get some fresh air during lunch

A short walk during your lunch break could be just the thing to you need to return to your desk feeling happier and re-energized. And if it’s especially chilly out, picking up the pace will help you stay warm while also getting your heart rate up — which is a great way to bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins.

Build some outside time into your commute

A study from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health found that people who commute through “natural environments” report better mental health. While you might not be able to kayak or jog to work (#wishfulthinking), getting creative about your commute may help you spend a few extra minutes outside before you start your workday. This could simply mean getting off the subway one stop early and walking the rest of the way, or parking your car a bit further from your office.

Consider a walking meeting

If a jam-packed workday makes it impossible to sneak out for a break, pick one meeting a day and make it a walking meeting with your colleague (a practice we love here at Thrive). Not only will this give you a much-needed change of scenery, but it may also help you with out-of-the-box thinking. Research shows that spending time outside can boost our creative reasoning and problem-solving skills. 

Warm up outside of the gym

If you usually hit the treadmill after work, try to do your warm-up before you get there — say, by jogging to the gym, or even doing a lap or two around the block once you arrive. Even five minutes of feeling the wind on your face may boost your energy for a better workout.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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