Cultures all over the world have their own set of rituals, some religious, some celebratory, and some connected to wellness. To achieve long-term health and fitness goals, consistency is essential, which is why creating our own set of daily rituals can be so powerful. This can be as simple as lighting a candle when you wake up and prepare for your morning yoga or having a cup of herbal tea before bed to help you wind down. In this series, sponsored by Rancho La Puerta wellness resort, we explore ancient traditions from around the world that can enhance you modern wellness practice.
Wellness in Northern Europe
Nordic region of Europe refers to both an area that includes Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland. The area shares historic and cultural commonalities, and are known to be some of the most progressive cultures in the world with some of the healthiest, happiest citizens.
There is no magic behind the smiles and longevity of nordic people, but rather a culture of creating happiness, peacefulness, and health through conscious choices rooted in simplicity.
The Tradition: A Seasonal Nordic Diet
Nordic food gained a great deal of attention when Noma in Copenhagen was named the best restaurant in the world for its innovative “new Nordic cuisine”. Traditional nordic cooking is simple farm fare, which is highly seasonal with an emphasis on seafood, berries, root vegetables, hearty rye, and high protein yoghurt. The resulting diet is one that celebrates in-season produce, complex carbohydrates from whole grains and root vegetables, and moderate amounts of lean, protein-rich seafood and dairy. The dishes are simple and let each ingredient shine.
You might not be ready to add pickled fish to your breakfast plate, but try swapping in Skyr (pronounced skeer) a Nordic yoghurt that’s packed full of probiotics and protein with an even thicker, creamier texture than Greek yoghurt. To eat Nordic-style the rest of the day, choose seasonal vegetables and make them the star of your plate. Supplement with lean seafood a few times a week and small servings of hearty whole-grains.
The Tradition: Fika (Connections over Coffee)
In Sweden, a coffee break is something that happens frequently throughout the day, with some office workers taking a short, ten to fifteen minute break every couple hours.
Studies have shown that this practice actually helps to boost productivity at work, keeping minds fresh and motivation high. It also is seen as one of the reasons people in Sweden feel more socially connected and satisfied with their personal lives.
At the heart of the tradition is the idea of work-life balance and prioritizing relationships.
Our office culture might not be quite so conducive to this many coffee breaks, but try setting an alarm to remind yourself to take a break ever one to two hours.
During your re-charge time, simply get up and stretch, refill your water bottle, or send a text to a friend you’ve been meaning to reach out to, scheduling a time to chat later in the day. Make it a habit to meet a friend or colleague for coffee at least once a week.
The Tradition: Minimalism at Home
Scandinavian design is known for its simple, streamlined look, and great functionality. Ikea built an empire on these principles. The designs are about more than aesthetics and are based on the cultural belief that a simple life is a happy life and a clutter-free space is key to relaxation and a clear mind.
Even if the modern or minimalist aesthetic isn’t your style, you can incorporate these Scandinavian principles by reducing clutter and removing unwanted or unnecessary items from your home until you are surrounded only by things you love or that serve a purpose.
The Tradition: Daily Movement
Biking to work and talking long walks as a way to relax are essential to the Nordic lifestyle. Walking is something almost anyone of any age or fitness level can participate in, so you’ll see families, friends, and individuals of all ages out strolling the city and countryside.
“Nordic walking” was developed in Finland to amp-up the cardiovascular and upper-body toning with the addition of ski-pole-like walking sticks that promote upper-body movement.
Add a walk to your daily routine. After dinner, instead of dropping anchor in front of the TV, take a walk around the block. Use the time to call a friend or family member or bring along your spouse or roommate and catch-up on the events of your day.
Start with a short, five to ten-minute stroll every day for a week and you might find yourself looking forward to your new ritual and spending more time moving each day.
The Tradition: Hygge
In the Nordic region, the winter months are cold and long with limited hours of daylight. Danish people combat seasonal depression with something they call “hygge”.
There is no direct translation, but the concept is essentially to creating comfort and calm for yourself and those around you through simple pleasures. This can be anything from lighting a fire and curling up under a warm blanket on a cold night to lighting your favorite incense or candle upon arriving home to enjoying the process of cooking a meal.
Hygge could be thought of as conscious self-care that extends to those around you to create a feeling of comfort and peace.
When you arrive home at the end of the day, don’t rush into your at-home to-do list. Instead, take a few minutes to create your own hygge so your home can be your sanctuary, and you can enjoy everything that takes place in it.
Put down your keys and change into something comfortable. Turn on some music. Make yourself something to drink. Enjoy the sensation of being home and the accomplishment of a day’s work done. By spending a few minutes to shift mental gears, you can approach everything that comes after in a positive light. Cooking the evening meal doesn’t have to be a drudgery to rush through, but could be a time to connect with the kids or a quiet moment to reflect as you chop.
Whatever you do, do it intentionally and from a place of self-care.
About Our Sponsor
Rancho La Puerta has been changing lives for over 70 years. Family-owned and operated since June, 1940, the first guests arrived at a beautiful Baja California campsite created by Edmond Szekely and his young wife Deborah. Since then, the Ranch's approach to sustainability has been "Always Better," as the property and its employees offer the best guest experiences possible, while continually striving to reduce their environmental impact.Throughout the property’s history, programs have been developed to initiate and explore forward-thinking activities in the community of Tecate, the trans-border region, and beyond. With a depth of activities at Rancho La Puerta coupled with the organic evolution of Ranch itself, no two experiences are ever the same, but guests can expect the unexpected as they connect with themselves and the natural world around them.