This post was originally written for Fashion Journal.
We look to the French for covetable style cues and North Americans for guilty TV pleasures. And the Scandinavians? They are, or very well should be, our lifestyle gurus.
Hygge was one of the first Scandi concepts to take the world by storm. We embraced oversized knits, warm mugs of tea and staring longingly into the fireplace. Comfort became less lazy and more trendy.
If the World Happiness Report results are anything to go by, we should be paying attention to other life tips coming out of the region. According to the 2018 report, Finland is the happiest country, followed by Norway, Denmark and Iceland. Australia may have come close at #10, but there’s always room for improvement.
Here are three more Scandi lifestyle changes I’m spruiking to raise that national happiness factor.
If there are two things the Swedes are well-known for, it’s their obsessions with the outdoors and cleaning up the planet. So, why not mash it up and have both? (Cue the very out of place Mexican tunes).
Plogging is the planet-friendly fitness trend combining jogging (or walking) with de-littering footpaths. It’s simple: take a leisurely stroll with a bag in tow, and pick up the rubbish you spot along the way (gloves come highly recommended).
It’s a sport we can all win at. The perfect workout gets the legs pumping and core bracing in each bend-and-snap movement.
And there’s some good news for Sydneysiders: take this to the beach at Manly and reap the reward of a free dose of caffeine. Pop into a participating café in April to collect a bucket, then fill it up and walk away with a steaming cup of goodness.
The Norwegian term translates to ‘free air life’, which is a rather refreshing concept in the age of technology and Netflix. You know that feeling, when you’re in the middle of nature, with only the noise of the birds and a gentle wind? When your mind is free, and the sun is beating on your back? That’s how I picture friluftsliv.
Friluftsliv involves spending time outdoors, getting back to basics and appreciating nature. It’s about interactions of the physical kind; not watching David Attenborough repeats via a screen. Connect with the world on foot, or view the landscape by bicycle
Norwegian families typically spend their weekends getting outdoors – hiking, skiing, mountain biking. And embracing the great outdoors has also been proven to reduce stress levels, boost creativity and happiness, all the while giving our bodies a workout.
Sounds like as good an excuse as any to make every weekend a weekend away.
After all that exercise and nature-embracing, fika seems an appropriate place to end. The Swedish fika translates to ‘taking a break for coffee and a bite to eat’ – it’s a time to relax and catch up with loved ones. As a daily ritual, fika offers a chance to break away from the slog, interact socially and press pause on the rest of life.
If you’re a solitary being, try taking fika by yourself. Carry a cup of coffee to the nearest park or cosy up in a local cafe. Teach yourself to take a break, to slow down and live in the now.
Count me in for a plogging expedition in the great outdoors this weekend (fika necessities in tow). Ask me how happy I am come Monday, and I assure you I’ll answer with 10/10.