Global Wellness Traditions You MUST TRY
Life as we know it has been turned upside down this year. Finding peace within our busy lives, while living in a storm of stress, can sometimes be difficult to accomplish. As we adjust to our new reality, managing stress and staying on top of self-care is definitely a priority.
The concept of wellness and self-care is not anything new. It has been around for centuries. Every country has its own distinctive approach to health, wellness and well-being, developed over centuries, and built on a foundation of tradition and culture. Many of these traditions are easy to incorporate into our own wellness practices. From forest-bathing in Japan, to the coziness of Hygge in Denmark, each country has found a solution (or two) which works for them.
Give yourself a little self-love today and get inspired by these unique self-care practices from around the globe, which not only include afternoon naps, taking a break to have coffee with friends, embracing laziness, but even support drinking in your underwear.
In Germany, the practice of spending time alone in the forest to cure stress is known as Waldeinsamkeit or “forest loneliness” (From the words Wald (“forest”) + Einsamkeit (“loneliness”) When you’re alone in the woods, among trees, Waldeinsmkeit can help calm your nerves, while embracing solitude in nature.
At the core of hygge is comfort and coziness mixed with the pleasure we find in everyday moments and time spent with loved ones. Denmark is consistently ranked as one of the happiest countries on Earth (in 2021 in took the #2 spot after Finland). Perhaps Hygge is Denmark’s cultural secret to happiness. It’s worth a try.
China: Wu Wei
The common translation of ‘Wu Wei’ is ‘non-action’. Therefore, it literally translates to “doing nothing.” We’ve all had those days where we needed to completely disconnect from everything and recharge our batteries. These days, stress and anxiety are commonplace occurrences in our daily lives. Sometimes, we just need to unplug from the day-to-day grind in order to renew our energy and be ready to take on the world. If you’re mentaly and physically exhausted every day, perhaps practicing Wu Wei and embracing laziness can help.
Spain: Siesta and Sobremesa
Taking an afternoon nap is the perfect way to recharge your batteries. Originally, taking a siesta was intended for agricultural workers to take a break during the hottest hours of the day, to avoid the scorching mid-day sun. Although most of us don’t work in farming, let’s not underestimate the power of the power nap. According to NASA, if 26-minute power naps improve the performance of astronauts, imagine what an afternoon snooze can do for you.
Another great Spanish wellness concept is the idea of sobremesa. It describes the time spent after a meal, hanging out with family or friends, chatting and enjoying each other's company. Specifically, it refers to time spent in talking, digesting the meal, relaxing, enjoying an after-dinner drink or coffee. We all know that spending time with friends and family is great for our overall health and well-being. This wellness tradition can easily be incorporated into our lives.
If you’re looking to take a quick pause in your busy day to relax, recharge, reflect, and deepen your connections with your friends or work colleagues, then fika is something you should try. A warm cup of coffee and a tasty pastry can brighten anyone's day. That’s why Fika refers to the culture of taking coffee breaks and is universally beloved among the people of Sweden.
Sweden: Gökott & Friluftsliv
Swedes are among the happiest people in the world, perhaps it’s because of their wellness traditions. The concepts of Gökott & Friluftsliv both refer to spending time outside. It’s no surprise because spending time in nature makes us feel great. Gökott is a tradition which essentially means “to rise at dawn in order to go out and listen to the birds sing.” While Friluftsliv is a Scandinavian concept which translates to “open-air living” or "life in the open air". If you start your day by practicing gökotta and take part in friluftsliv throughout the day, you're bound to be happy.
Since there's nothing quite like being deeply immersed in the natural world, it’s not a surprise that nature is again front and center on our list of wellness traditions. The Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, is the simple and therapeutic act of spending time in a forest. The practice first appeared in public health in the 1980s. Since then, it has become a cornerstone of preventive healthcare and healing in Japanese medicine. You can read more about nature therapy in our article. “Immersion in Nature.”
Finally, on a lighter note, if you’re not keen on spending time in nature, or connecting with your friends or loved ones, perhaps this Finnish tradition will be right for you. Kalsarikännit celebrates the times when we just want to be alone, drunk in our underwear with no intention of venturing out. Yes, this is a real practice described by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Department for Communications
Let us know which wellness practice you’re most excited about trying during the National Day of Unplugging?
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