With its emphasis on coziness, embracing the Danish-approved hygge lifestyle is perfect for the colder months. However, the Swedish philosophy of lagom can be practiced all year round, and could be one way to help make 2018 your healthiest and most balanced yet.
Like hygge-loving Denmark, Sweden is also known as one of the most contented nations in the world, sitting in the World Happiness Report’s top 10 happiest countries for the past few years. In her book “Lagom: Not Too Little, Not Too Much: The Swedish Art of Living a Balanced, Happy Life”, British native and Swedish resident Niki Brantmark proposes that it is the philosophy of lagom which could be the reason why.
Although it doesn’t have a direct translation into English, lagom can best be described as “not too much and not too little – just right” and is the Swedish approach to “everything in moderation.”
Brantmark uses her book to explain how in our fast-paced, and often stressful, modern world following a lagom lifestyle could be key to reducing pressure, as it encourages finding balance in every area of life, whether it’s work and free time, family and friends, or food and drink.
For example finding a work-life balance is important in Sweden, and people don’t spend all their time working late and burning themselves out. They rarely work overtime, enjoy five weeks of holiday a year, and even make time for a fika with colleagues, a short break for a coffee and a small pastry or treat. This enables them to spend more time with friends and family, make the most of the daylight in the darker months, particularly important for mental well-being, and take a break to recharge themselves.
And even though lagom is a way of life that comes naturally to Swedes, science also backs it up. Swedes exercise to stay in good health as part of a long-term lifestyle; exercise is not for a quick fix and they are not obsessive about it. Many studies have shown that a moderate amount of exercise can bring a range of health benefits including a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, making it more attainable for us all to reach guidelines on how much exercise we should be getting, but without the need to pound the pavements or spend hours in the gym. And for anyone who struggled with Dry January there is more good news, with many studies finding that although too much alcohol has a negative effect on health, a tipple every now and again may be beneficial.
Living with less is also a way to live more lagom. Think of minimalist Swedish design and declutter your house to also declutter your mind, and invest your money in less pieces but which last longer. Spending money on other things that bring you happiness, such as experiences rather than objects, has also been shown to have a positive effect on health.
But if you’re still attached to hygge, don’t worry; the Swedes also place a lot of emphasis on making the bedroom a sanctuary and even encourage the use of two duvets, one each if you share a bed, so you can still spend the rest of the winter cozied up. JB