wellness practices from around the world
Throughout this hectic year, we’ve heard countless tips for achieving a happy, healthy mindset and wellbeing at home. The typical suggestions involve reading a book, exercising, getting outside, and other predictable activities that we’ve already tried. In this blog post, we want to try something a little different by sharing wellness techniques from around the world that may be new to some here in North America but have been practiced for years by other cultures. If you’re in search of a new self-care ritual, keep reading!
Sweden: Fika (Coffee break)
Fika is a Swedish coffee break, though it’s different from the version that you’re already familiar with. When we think of a coffee break, it’s just that - pausing our work to pour a coffee that we can bring back and sip while getting back to productivity. Fika, on the other hand, sees the coffee break as a moment to slow down and appreciate things, including the coffee you’ve poured! The Swedes believe that by slowing down and appreciating the moment, you’ll experience more peace and happiness in your day. So how can you practice fika? Rather than pouring your coffee and racing out the door or getting right back into work, try sitting down to enjoy your hot drink with a baked good. You can do this in the morning with breakfast, but we prefer to take a break during the day to enjoy our fika. Since we are working from home, it’s nice to get away from our screens and enjoy a little snack and coffee during our mid-day slump. Try doing this a few times a week and see what a difference it can make!
Russia: Banya (Sauna/steam bath)
Russians and many Nordic countries love to enjoy saunas, and Finland actually has the most saunas per capita in the world! A banya is a place that brings people together and allows openness and communication among friends and it’s a place where people connect on a deeper level due to the intimacy involved. You would think that due to Canada’s northern geographic location that banyas would also be a norm, but unfortunately, saunas are scarcer here. That doesn’t mean you can’t practice this wellness technique, though! There are tons of great saunas available to the public in Toronto like Body Blitz and Novo Spa, which we’ll patiently await the re-opening of after lockdown. In the meantime, try creating your own banya experience at home using your shower! Turn your shower head inwards (or away from you) and crank it onto as hot as possible. Let it run for a couple of minutes with the curtain or door closed. Carefully avoiding the hot water, step inside, take a seat (a shower stool is a great option here) and enjoy the steam. For an extra indulgence, combine some essential oils with water in a spray bottle in advance and spray down the sides of your shower – it’ll create an aromatherapy experience along with your steam!
Japan: Shinrin Yoku (Forest bathing)
The Japanese believe that there are health benefits from living in the forest. Time spent in nature is said to encourage clearer intuition, an increased flow of energy, and overall increased happiness. While you may not want to live in a forest full-time (especially with our Canadian winters) you can practice Shinrin Yoku by getting outside more often. If you live near a forest, bundle up and bring a hot drink to enjoy some forest time in the winter. For the extra adventurous, strap on some cross-country skis or snowshoes! In the summer months, try packing some food and having a picnic in the woods. If you aren’t located near a forest, find a local garden or park you can read a book in. We love going into nature as we find it helps to ground us and we highly encourage planning a camping trip or a cottage trip if you’re not up for camping. Make an effort to avoid screen time while you’re outdoors and really “become one with nature”.
Japan: Inemuri (Power naps)
Have you ever been so tired that closing your eyes, even if just for a few minutes, sounds amazing? In Japan people have embraced this by practicing inemuri or closing your eyes for a moment of rest. This can be done anywhere, anytime, as it’s not a full state of sleep but rather an in-between stage like daydreaming. While it may not be the norm here to close your eyes while sitting at a coffee shop, in Japan it’s respected because it means that person worked as hard as they could. You can begin to practice this by simply closing your eyes for a moment whenever you’re feeling tired. Embrace the sleepy feeling and allow yourself a moment of peace. We don’t suggest crawling into bed for this, as it may be difficult to get up after a few minutes and leave you feeling groggy. Be sure to set an alarm for yourself just in case you do doze off and lose track of time. If you’re looking to commit to this practice, it may be a good idea to invest in an eye mask so you can have a true moment of peace wherever you are. The Slip Sleepmask (Sephora, $70) has been our go-to whenever we travel because silk is super soft and luxurious for the skin!
Argentina: Mate tea
While most people start their mornings with a cup of coffee, in Argentina and most South American countries, people wake up with yerba mate tea. It’s an herbal tea that comes from the llex paraguariensis plant. It is caffeinated like coffee but also rich in antioxidants and is said to promote heart health, boost energy and focus, aid digestion, and be great for your liver! If you’re getting sick of the same old hot drink, try replacing it with a cup of mate tea and see if you notice increased energy throughout the day. You can find Organic Yerba Mate Tea (Amazon, $36.99) on Amazon or at your local health store if you prefer to shop local!
Do you have a global wellness technique that didn’t make the list? Email us and we’ll share it with the Primped community!