What is gluggavedur?

Mental Health

Pull up a blanket, head to your nearest window, and enjoy the peace gluggavedur can bring

How’s the weather looking where you are? If, like me, you’re in the depths of winter in the UK, chances are it’s grey, chilly, and perhaps a little rainy. This kind of weather has been affectionately named ‘gluggavedur’ in Iceland, which translates to ‘window-weather’ – the kind that isn’t particularly nice to be out in, but is wonderful to appreciate from the inside.

While many of us are familiar with this weather, can you remember the last time you sat by a window to really appreciate the scene outside? Modern life is fast-paced, there’s no denying that. Allowing ourselves to slow down takes intention, but by giving ourselves the space to do so, incredible things can happen.

When we slow down, we can be more mindful in our day-to-day life. We can refocus on what’s important to us and prioritise self-care. We give ourselves a sense of whitespace, where we don’t have to ‘do’ anything; we can just be. In these moments creativity thrives, inspiration and ‘ah-ha’ moments spring from the stillness – like buds on a tree that’s been dormant a while.

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So, how does gluggavedur fit into this? Well, it can serve as a perfect prompt to take a breather. When window-weather arrives, ask yourself, can I carve out some time to curl up by the window? It doesn’t have to be a whole day (although if you can, go right ahead!), even 10 minutes to pause and watch droplets dance on the glass can have a powerful effect.

We know that spending time in nature has a positive impact on our mental health, but can we actually reap some of these benefits from a window? Watching the world go by can help us feel more connected, as we see how we form a part of this complex ecosystem on earth.

Looking up at the vast sky can also instil a sense of awe – and this, according to a study published by the Association for Psychological Science, can actually change our perception of time. The study found that when we feel awe, we tend to believe time is more plentiful.

“In these moments creativity thrives, inspiration and ah-ha moments spring from the stillness – like buds on a tree that’s been dormant a while”

As well as the above, gluggavedur can shift us into a contemplative state of mind. When we allow ourselves to rest and observe, our thinking slows down. Worries can fade into the background and you might find yourself letting deeper questions arise. This might be the perfect time for some journaling. You may finally feel able to untangle that problem, or even unearth an epiphany. Start by writing about the weather you’re watching and how it makes you feel, and see where you go from there.

If writing isn’t your thing, you might want to explore something else creative. This could be sketching or painting what you see, embroidery or knitting – anything that helps you switch off, relax, and have a little fun.

Alternatively, you might be craving a sense of escapism. In this case, a good book can make an ideal gluggavedur companion. Reading helps to reduce stress, so let yourself get lost in a story while rain tapping at the window provides the perfect soundtrack.

Of course, gluggavedur also offers an excellent chance to practise mindfulness. Paying attention to the here and now helps us to feel calmer and cope better with difficult emotions. You can practise mindfulness by simply homing-in on what you can see, hear, smell, and feel – a great exercise to try while cosying up by a window. There’s also mindfulness meditation; try an app like Headspace or Calm to guide you.

So, the next time you look outside and see dark and dreary weather, don’t let it put a dampener on your day. Instead, see it as an opportunity to slow down, relax and embrace gluggavedur, because nothing can rain on that parade.


Finding it difficult to make space for yourself? Working with a wellness coach could help you manage stress and prioritise self-care. Learn more at lifecoach-directory.org.uk

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