How to beat stress the Scandinavian way

How to beat stress the Scandinavian way

The Nordic countries, as well as Finland and Iceland, remain consistently high in the annual World Happiness Report. Finland and Denmark now rank first and second, Iceland and Norway fourth and fifth, and Sweden seventh. What is their secret? The right way to deal with stress.

A positive attitude, a feeling of happiness and satisfaction with life greatly increases stress tolerance. reveals the “recipe” for how Scandinavians enjoy life where there are few warm and bright days in the year.

1. Be moderate

Scandinavians can succinctly describe a feature of their culture. Among such terms is the Swedish word “lagom”.

Lagom is a philosophy of moderation in all things, the desire to provide for oneself only the essentials and not to burden one’s life with unnecessary junk and luxuries.

It can refer to anything: work, conversation, clothes. Swedes don’t make every effort to fill pauses in conversation, they tell the truth even if it’s unpleasant, they respect other people’s time and therefore they are punctual. Parents in Sweden do not measure themselves by their children’s achievements and teach them to love the nature from the early age.

So lagom is the quintessence of the Scandinavian outlook, combining modesty, goodwill, honesty and lack of selfishness.

2. Create comfort in your home and relationships

This principle is embodied in another concept, now Danish – “hygge”.

Traditionally under this word is understood the concept of home decor, which is characterized by things that create a sense of comfort: warm plaids, wooden furniture, a favorite mug. Interior in the style of Hugge is characterized by neutral colors and a maximum of natural light.

But for Danes, hygge is more than just a style of decor or an atmosphere of home warmth. It is also about being happy to be in a place where people are waiting for you and about being with nice people. Generally speaking, relationships are an important part of Scandinavian culture. This is how the official Danish travel website describes hygge:

Hygge is about creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying good things and living with good people. Warm candlelight is hygge. Watching a movie in a cozy atmosphere with a loved one is also hygge.

And as the authors of one of the longest-running studies from Harvard argue, a close harmonious relationship is the key to a long and happy life.

3. Spend more time outdoors

Spending just two hours a week for a walk in the park or spending a weekend in nature will make you feel healthier and happier.

Norwegians strongly agree that the more time you spend outdoors, the better for you. And it doesn’t matter what the weather is like outside – if you dress warmly, there will be no frosts. This Norwegian philosophy is called “friluftsliv”, which means “life outdoors”.

Norwegians take this concept literally. Nature is first and foremost their home, so children are taught to protect it from an early age, and the state and the inhabitants themselves support domestic tourism and seek to build the urban environment in such a way as to be closer to nature.

4. Don’t work too much

It’s well known that working more doesn’t make you happier or more efficient. Moreover, overworking is bad for mental abilities and health in general.

There is such a thing as Parkinson’s Law. It means that work takes up all the time you dedicate to it. Scandinavians, apparently, understand this and allocate time efficiently.

Norwegians, for example, work an average of a quarter less than Americans, yet have a higher GDP per capita. And Swedish nursing home workers recently experimented with a six-hour workday, and the results were positive.

Here we should also mention the common Swedish ritual of “fika”. Once or twice a day they leave work and go for a coffee, a cake, and a chat with colleagues.

Studies have repeatedly confirmed that the breaks at work are not harmful, but rather contribute to productivity.

The efficiency of the Scandinavian approach to work is confirmed by high productivity. Norway, Denmark and Sweden are among the world’s top six countries in this regard.

5. Understand that being super-successful is not the main thing

One of the most important but hard-to-reproduce elements of Scandinavian happiness is described by the Danish-Norwegian word “janteloven”.

What is janteloven? For example, that overall success is more important than personal success, and that it is okay to be ordinary (average). But it’s also honesty: in Scandinavian countries, you’re more likely to get your lost wallet back. It’s also the extreme modesty of Scandinavians, which has already been mentioned above.

In general, Janteloven is a way of living in harmony with yourself and others, and in this it overlaps with hygge and lagom in many ways.

The answer to the question of why Scandinavians feel happier than many other nations is not limited to these points. A number of state and cultural peculiarities of these countries allow for comfortable living conditions for all citizens. For example, Norway and Sweden (as well as Iceland and Finland), according to the World Economic Forum, consistently top the list of countries with the least gender inequality. And as difficult as it is, their experience can and should be adopted.

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