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Scandi Lagom Routines to Live By

Scandi Lagom Routines to Live By
24 March 2021 James Brooke

With Scandinavian countries topping the World Happiness Report rankings yet again this year, Scandi lifestyle expert at Contura provides tips on implementing lagom-inspired routines for a healthy, happy life.

Scandinavian countries consistently top the World Happiness Report rankings, and this year is no different. For the fourth year running, Finland has come out on top, with Iceland and Denmark occupying second and third place respectively(1).

The Nordic nations seem to have perfected the art of living a balanced, happy life. Living a Lagom lifestyle is key to why people living in Scandinavian countries report feeling happier, more fulfilled, and less stressed than other nations. Lagom can be translated as “balance” and is a principle that can be applied to all aspects of life, particularly our daily routines. It’s ensuring the right balance between work and home life, rest, and exercise, social and downtime, indulgence, and necessity, and even spend and frugality.

Learning to understand and balance different social, emotional, physical, and financial needs allows us to feel more centred and grounded, increases our resilience and ability to overcome everyday challenges and, crucially, gives us that all important sense of fulfilment and wellbeing.

Catharina Björkman, Scandi lifestyle expert at Contura, says: “Scandinavians actively seek out a slower, fuss-free way of living. We relish simplicity and strive to keep things uncomplicated. We understand that our happiest times are often found in the everyday – clocking off work on time, a lunchtime walk in the park, eating dinner as a family, – factoring in downtime and making sure to enjoy the small moments of joy throughout the day.

“In other countries, the same relaxed approach to life is something people may only experience when on holiday, but we know it’s possible to enjoy this mindset every day. This guide aims to address any imbalances and provide practical solutions to common issues around sleep, stress, managing workloads, eating well, and accepting that there are aspects in life that we cannot control. With lagom leading the way, we can all adapt our routines for the better, find the balance we need and enjoy a more fulfilling sense of well-being.”

Read of for Catharina’s full lagom-inspired tips.

Lagom sleep routines

Sleep is nature’s way of helping us to reset;. Without it we don’t function properly, and poor-quality sleep can damage our health and wellbeing in the long run. When you wake up refreshed and raring to go, then you know you’ve had a good night’s rest. But what about when you’re tossing and turning unable to drop off at night, or lying awake unable to calm an anxious mind?

A calming bedtime routine draws on lagom to get both mind and body ready for sleep. It’s worth adopting a back-to-basics approach: blue light affects your slumber, so avoid using gadgets and screens before bed and instead of watching TV, read a book, try some crafting (knitting is having a moment right now), listen to calming music or a podcast, or take a warm bath or shower to ready the body and mind for sleep.

Journaling before bed is a good way to reflect on the day and offload any niggling worries before sleep by getting your thoughts down on paper. An evening stroll or amble can also naturally help prepare you for sleep; somewhere in nature or close to water is ideal to soothe your mind.

Exercise the lagom way

Exercise is crucial for your mental and physical health and should be factored into your daily routine. Try to think of it as a component of a life well lived, rather thana means to lose weight for example. It’s easy to lose motivation with exercise when focusing on it as quick-fix solution, so finding a form of exercise you truly enjoy and find fun will make it much easier to incorporate into your everyday.

Remember that lagom (balance) is key, so mix up the type of exercise you do to maintain interest. Alternate a jog through the park with dance, yoga, tai-chi or boxing – whatever gets you moving, your heart pumping and crucially, you enjoy.

Exercise doesn’t have to mean doing a workout

There are multiple ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. Opt to cycle or walk to work or to the shops rather than taking public transport or driving; stand for a while rather than sitting at your desk all day; try a ‘walking and talking’ meeting as opposed to leaning into your laptop for the nth zoom call of the day… If you’re still working from home, try and get outside every day for some fresh air – whether that be a gentle-on-the-joints morning walk to buy a coffee or a cycle through the park.

Small adjustments to your routine will add up over time and can make a real difference to both your mental and physical health.

Wellness in nature

The benefits of exposure to nature are well documented; it can help soothe, heal, and restore our minds, help us feel more creative, and reset our equilibrium. Keeping lagom in mind, Swedes know that a stressful week at work means a nourishing weekend in nature is in order. Getting out into nature can be as simple as taking a long walk, exploring a new area, and just taking in your surroundings as you go. Let the fresh air wash over you and focus on the sights, sounds, and smells, allowing them to distract you from any worries. If you can leave your phone behind, even better. Or perhaps put it on silent mode.

Water is particularly meditative; watching the tides or water flow along a river reminds us that nature keeps moving forwards, and so can we. If you’re lucky enough to live by the coast or near a body of water, you could try paddleboarding or kayaking, or, if you’d prefer to stay on dry land, simply stroll along the beach or coastline.

As we head into spring, longer days and warmer weather provide a great opportunity to soak up some sunshine and all-important vitamin D, which as well as affecting our mood, helps keep our bones, teeth, and muscles healthy.

A balanced diet

We can learn a thing or two from the Swedes when it comes to looking after the body. True to form, they take a no-nonsense approach to their diet, neither overdoing the healthy eating, nor denying themselves a cinnamon bun on occasion. As always, the trick is balance. The Nordic diet focuses on healthy, seasonal, fresh produce; something that can easily be adopted in the UK.

Up your intake of oily fish, vegetables – particularly leafy greens such as kale and spinach – nuts and seeds, wholegrains (brown rice, rye, or wholemeal bread), and try to avoid too many sugary, salty, or processed foods. Don’t completely restrict your diet, however; it’s important to allow yourself the occasional treat.

And remember to eat mindfully – so no ‘sandwiches al desko’. Meals are a serious affair, even if it is just last night’s leftovers in Tupperware. Enjoying a proper lunch break away from your desk will leave you feeling happier, more productive and benefitting from better concentration as a result.

Finance & sustainability

Lagom can extend to finances in terms of not living beyond your means or getting into financial difficulties, but also, not denying yourself necessary indulgences. It can be interpreted as being frugal whilst simultaneously being prudent, but also translates as money being well spent.

One way of achieving Lagom in relation to finance and sustainable living would be to look for second-hand or pre-loved items. Reuse, recycle and upcycle furniture, soft furnishings, or clothing where possible and choose items with longevity so you don’t need to replace them often. Choose natural materials rather than man-made or plastics, as these tend to last longer.

Managing your spending is key. Try to put a set amount into your savings each month, focus spending on items you really want or need, and avoid impulse buying and online shopping unless you have a specific occasion in mind or need to buy out of necessity. Switching your mindset to be more lagom with money is about making sure you have some put aside for a rainy day and being considerate and mindful when it is necessary to spend.

Go with the flow

A key component of lagom is accepting that we can’t control everything, but what we can do is manage our response and reaction. If there’s an issue at work, for example, it’s far better to take a quick walk to think everything through and then speak to a colleague, than remain at your laptop allowing anxiety or anger to overwhelm you.

Above all, lagom is a mindset; an acceptance that what you have and where you are in life is ‘enough.’ It’s an incredibly liberating lesson and undoubtedly one of the reasons Swedes feel happier. By building a life based enjoying the little things, the everyday moments, and focusing on emotional wellbeing, we reduce stress and can feel joy from the truly important things in life.

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Notes to editors:

  • (1)
  • Rooster PR will coordinate comment, interview and profile opportunities for Contura UK Country Manager, Phil Wood.
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