Despite the best of intentions, New Year’s resolutions can sometimes end up making us feel guilty or overwhelmed, especially if they’re just too unrealistic and difficult to stick to. There’s no denying that 2020 was a tumultuous year, with many of us worrying about finances, work, family, future, relationships and wellbeing more than ever before.
However, there are some positives we can take from the pandemic: slowing down and enjoying the little things, more quality time with children and partners, doing up our homes and gardens, and recognising and appreciating the important things in life.
Here, I share my top tips on how to be more ‘Scandinavian’ (me being a Scandinavian myself) in 2021 to improve health and happiness. From getting out into nature, to spending more quality time with loved ones, this guide has been designed to help us start on the right footing and look forward to the year ahead.
Living well is about taking a holistic approach to our happiness and wellbeing, In Sweden, we adhere to the principles of lagom (balance) for all areas of life, and this guide will explore the benefits of lagom and provide practical tips for a more balanced, fulfilled, and happier lifestyle.
2020 was challenging to say the least, but there is no denying it was also a wake-up call. It’s helped us to prioritise better. We may no longer be commuting and have freed up more time for a better work-life balance, we’re more in tune with what makes us happy and this is often small joys, and it has reminded us that social interaction and family connection is a key component to happiness – in an age that we’re all guilty of spending a lot of time online.
The following tips are designed to slot seamlessly into your daily routine; there are no big shocks or daunting tasks. To be ‘more Scandi’ is simply to appreciate that there is joy in every day – sometimes we just need a little help to recognise it.
Body, mind & spirit
In order to take care of loved ones well, we first need to take care of ourselves. This means being in tune with our body, mind and spirit. Regular exercise for the body, adequate rest and enough sleep for the mind, quality time alone and with loved ones for the soul… all these factors will lead to better health and wellness.
Ensure you’re getting enough vitamins and health-boosting nutrients from your food. Consume plenty of leafy greens and fibrous foods, while eating less processed foods and limiting anything too high in fat or sugar. Hydration is also key, and you should aim to drink 6-8 cups of water a day. Give your body a rest from alcohol after special occasions or periods of indulgence and ensure you’re getting enough “me time” – take a long walk in the fresh air, run a bath, wind down in the evenings with a boxset or book. And importantly, aim for quality sleep to recover and refresh ahead of a new day.
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Nature close to home
Is there anything better than a rambling walk through nature? Taking in deep breaths of fresh air, spotting birds and animals in their habitats, and being at one with the natural world are key components of happiness, and a daily walk will do wonders for your mood. Once in nature, take in your surroundings and pause to acknowledge your thoughts and emotions of the day. You will feel more connected to the natural world and more at peace.
Embrace this notion by exploring nature close to home; whether it’s a local park, woodland, nature reserve, river, beach or mountains. Get a dose of exercise too by walking, cycling or jogging.
Home is your haven
We create homes that reflect us as people, the home is about creating a nest of familiarity we can call our own. It’s instinctive to seek comfort within our dwellings where we can retreat from the outside world and feel safe and secure.
Lagom in the home means ensuring everything in it fulfils the roles of both practicality and sentiment. This means only keeping hold of items that serve a purpose or truly mean something to you and taking a “less is more” approach to decoration. Resist the tendency to clutter up surfaces and instead curate your possessions and style in a way that is beautiful but also functional.
We are social creatures and crave acceptance and belonging, but isolation and loneliness are problems that all countries face. Making friends as an adult can feel harder too, but wellbeing and happiness is closely interwoven with personal relationships, so it is worth investing your time in fostering connections.
Investing care and attention in existing friendships are important too. Check-in on friends and family and really listen to their problems and share in their celebrations. If friends or loved ones are struggling, try to remember it’s not always about providing solutions; sometimes we all simply need someone to talk, vent or cry to, without judgement or reasoning.
If you’re new to an area and feel inclined, introduce yourself to your neighbours. There are also apps that connect local neighbourhoods, which are great for local recommendations, advice and support.
Long-term goals to happiness
Embracing a more Scandi way of life is not a daunting prospect, but more about small lifestyle changes that are best implemented over a long time. It’s unrealistic to believe happiness is a switch that can be turned on or off, so think of happiness as a long-term goal and find ongoing ways to build towards it. You will soon get to know what makes you feel happier, healthier and more positive – so try out these tips to see how being more Scandi can help you in 2021.