Spring has sprung, which means it’s time to clean up. It’s not only about de-cluttering your home, and/or going through your old belongings, but also un-junking your body and your way of life. With each new season, it’s always good to toss out old lifestyle habits and embrace new routines geared to improve your overall health.
The Scandinavian countries consistently rank among the most healthful in the world. If we look at how their citizens live, we observe that they make a daily effort to incorporate healthier choices in their day-to-day routines.
Exercise the body and mind
Exercise is a central part of the Scandinavian people’s way of life. If you take a trip to Denmark, Sweden or Norway, you will notice bicycles everywhere. In these countries, people of all ages use them to commute around town. It has become their main way of transport, as a large portion of citizens have stopped using cars to travel in their own city. Did you know that in Denmark and Sweden, close to 30% of citizens bike to and from work? This is a true testament to their healthier way of living.
A work-life balance
“Work hard but make time to play hard” is a mindset that most Scandinavians try to implement to ensure a more balanced quality of life. People have made sure to include several short breaks in their workday in order to reset their minds and focus for longer periods of time. In Sweden, these coffee breaks are called “Fika” and they ensure a less stressed way of life and a healthier outlook on things. The Nordic countries also believe in taking time off to recharge and be more alert. As important as their careers and professional lives are to them, they do see the need for holidays to reduce stress and get mental clarity and health.
Hygge, the Danish approach
A notion that has become quite popular recently is Danish “hygge”. It’s slightly hard to translate into one word as it’s more of a concept. It embraces a cozy lifestyle and way of life, where the little things are appreciated. This has become a central part to Scandinavian living. Author Meik Wiking once said: “What freedom is to Americans, hygge is to Danes.” So, things like candles, fireplaces, or sweatpants, are “hyggelig “(hygge-like). This cozy living has been shown to create such content and happiness that Denmark has been dubbed the world’s happiest place on earth. Therefore, take time to enjoy the small things that bring you joy and help you destress.
In countries like Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, people are very connected to nature and all it has to offer. They incorporate all the elements Mother Nature contains into their diet. Scandinavians are eating organic foods every day and have recognized that a natural approach is the healthiest one. This is what we should ideally embrace here in the western part of the globe. Nature is truly magical, and we would benefit by incorporating the berries and potent herbs it offers to improve our health.
Therefore, by trying to incorporate these aspects into our daily routine, we can achieve a healthier outlook on life, and begin a new season, as fresh as the Nordic air.
By Jennifer Soueida, B.Sc.