Research reveals that our surrounding environments can increase or reduce our stress levels, which in turn impacts our bodies. Regardless of age or culture, humans find nature pleasing. Researchers has found that more than two-thirds of people select a natural setting to retreat to when stressed.
Being amongst nature - or even viewing scenes of nature - reduces anger, fear, and stress, while increasing pleasant feelings and emotions. Being exposed to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, but it also it contributes to your physical wellbeing; reducing blood pressure, heartrate, muscle tension, and the production of stress-related hormones.
In addition, nature helps us to cope with pain. Because we are genetically programmed to find trees, plants, water, and other nature elements stimulating, we are captivated by nature scenes and distracted from our pain and discomfort. Studies show that time in nature or within nature settings are associated with a positive mood and psychological wellbeing, meaningfulness, and vitality. It is because humans find nature inherently interesting, that we can naturally focus on what we are experiencing out in nature. This also provides a reprieve for our over-active minds; refreshing us for new tasks.
Time spent in nature connects us to each other and the larger world. One could say that nature inspires feelings that connect us to each other and our environment.
Nature in the north changes constantly. The amount of sunlight increases and decreases, temperatures rise and fall, summer comes and autumn turns into winter. The rhythm of both the personal and working lives of Finnish people is rooted in the yearly cycles that exist in nature.
The light time of the day grows longer with increasing speed and by mid-March the day is already as long in the North as it is in Southern Finland. In the flush of spring, nature transforms as the snow melts, gives way to spring floods, and then welcomes great flocks of migratory birds back to their summer homes.
The nightless night, or the continuous summer day, is a truly unique and special characteristic of the Arctic, as the sun does not set at all at during the nighttime hours. Being very light and short, the summer of the north is extremely intense season of the year; traditionally beginning on or around Midsummer’s Day. Midsummer also marks the beginning of the insect season; the period when the populations of blood-sucking insects are at their highest.
During the berry season, Finns flock to the forest to pick cloudberries, blueberries, crowberries, bilberries and lingon berries for the winter. As the hours of daylight begin to wane, plants and animals begin to realize that it will soon be winter. The autumn foliage of Northern Finland – a wonderful spectacle of autumnal colors – is one of the greatest shows nature provides throughout the year.
For nature, winter is a peaceful and quiet time. During the month-long period of the polar night, the sun never rises above the horizon. The brightest part of the polar night period lasts about four hours each day, and is commonly known as the Blue Moment. Landscapes are lit by the aurora borealis and the moon, providing a mystical contrast between the winter scenery and the shadows that are thrown upon the snow. The polar night is followed by the cold spells of the winter, during which temperatures can stay around –30° Celsius for weeks at a time.
The weather in Lapland varies greatly from month to month. Don't be afraid of the weather, though, as properly dressing is the most important way to ensure that your nature experience will be the most enjoyable and fun as possible.
IN THE SUMMER
In Lapland, there could be cold days when temperatures are closer to 0° C, even in June. In this instance, the warm layer under your water and wind resistant clothing will not be too much for conditions. Summer is also the season of insects so clothing with long sleeves and long leg pants are the best choices. In addition, insect repellents and net-covered hats can be used to provide additional protection from insects. Your shoes or boots should be sturdy and water-resistant. Rubber boots are a fine option, especially during springtime or in the autumn.
IN THE WINTER
The trick to being comfortable during northern winters is to dress using a system of layers. Each layer has its own function and purpose, so for different layers we will have different kinds of clothes and fabrics.
Base layer keeps you warm and dry
This is the layer that is in direct contact with your skin. Its primary function is to keep you dry no matter what you are doing, be it just standing or moving. Normally, it is tight-fitting and can be made of different materials such as merino wool or synthetic fibres. Base layers are also made in a variety of different thicknesses. Thicker is normally the warmer.
Mid Layer keeps you nice and warm
The mid layer should keep you dry and serves to move moisture away from your body, while also providing insulation, as well. The best fabrics for mid layers would be wool and fleece. If you are planning to be a bit more active, it would be best to choose fleece over wool as the possibility of sweating and becoming cold becomes higher.
Outer layer protects you against the elements
Outer layers are all about protecting yourself from the elements and windproof fabrics and materials are excellent at providing this necessary protection during the winter months. Down jackets and jackets filled with synthetic fibres are good options too. For trousers, ski pants work well.
To properly protect your hands, you can use silk gloves as base layer and winter mittens on the top. Remember, mittens are warmer than the gloves.
Cold feet can ruin your outdoor experience, so proper foot care is essential. You can again use a double layer system to help keep your tootsies warm. Cotton socks stay wet and can make your feet cold, so synthetic fibres are a great base layer, while wool socks are good as a second layer. Your footwear should be at least one size too big. If your feet feel tight inside of the shoes, you will feel cold soon.
Do not forget to cover your head! You will be losing heat through your head if you don’t keep it warm, so always wear a hat when you are outdoors.