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Lagom Living - The Swedish Way Of Balance And Contentment
Of all the cultural wellness trends in the world, lagom is lesser known as opposed to hygge (the Danish concept of making life more cosy and warm to increase wellbeing) which is most likely responsible for an increase in candle and sock sales all across the UK and America.
Lagom is the Swedish lifestyle term, translating loosely as ‘not too much and not too little’. It means to have just the right amount of everything. Sweden consistently ranks top ten in the happiest countries in the world and this may be partly because of their balanced approach to life. The principles of lagom are a way of life for the Swedes, seeping in to their countries policies and values.
The concept of lagom is about taking what you need, but considers the whole rather than the individual. This might be why lagom seems to be less popular than its cousin hygge. While hygge is all about adding as many cosy and warm things in to your life as possible, lagom is a lot more about moderation.
This can be a strange concept for Brits: we’re much more likely to do things in excess. We’ll start extreme diets in favour of steady, consistent healthy eating, favour wacky over-the-top fashion, and we will push ourselves to over-work at the office.
But what if ditching our love for the rollercoaster of extremes introduces more contentment in our lives? Lagom is all about balance. Not too much. Not too little. Just the right amount. Comparisons between hygge and lagom are only natural. Hygge is often thought of as moments of bliss and pleasure that people can try to work into their day, whereas lagom is thought more of as a way of living you commit to all day every day.
Lagom encourages frugality, fairness, and an easier, sustainable and inexpensive life.
How can lagom improve our lives and wellbeing for 2019? Keep reading to find out how you could use lagom to benefit you.
Caring For Mental Health
We’ve been facing a mental health epidemic in the Western world for the past few years. According to the charity Mind, 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. 1 in 6 people report experiencing a mental health problem like anxiety or depression in any given week. Mental health issues are becoming increasingly common in children and teenagers, which means they’re more likely to continue battling with these problems in adulthood.
Many of us are overwhelmed with work and stress. The Swedes believe in working to reduce stress before it even begins. This means making more time for self-care and working to reduce stress as much as possible. The mind-set of Brits and Americans, on the other hand, is to keep going - keep going until you’re frazzled and on the brink of a breakdown.
You don’t have to wait until you’ve reached this point. The Swedes believe that they can manage and fight stress first before it becomes a problem. They do this by taking regular breaks to recharge, and taking care of themselves with regular exercise. This doesn’t have to be excessive as that’s not Lagom. You could also do something that brings you joy like going to see a film, or going to a concert, for example. Taking time for themselves to really relax, recharge and rejuvenate allows them to be more consistently productive and efficient in their work.
In Sweden, they don’t work beyond their normal working hours - the idea is to be the most efficient in a reasonable amount of time. If you’re working yourself to the ground doing over-time, you’re seen as not being very good at your job! Perhaps if you’re struggling to do everything your workplace asks of you, it might be an idea to discuss a more reasonable workload to help minimise stress.
Lagom Is For The Majority, Not The Individual
It has been said that lagom might not be as popular in countries more tailored to the individual. In an interview with Lifehacker, Brones said, ‘I think the essence of lagom within Swedish culture comes very much from the ideals of community and social wellbeing, the idea that I don’t take too much because then my community doesn’t thrive.’ Lagom is an ideal of Swedish culture that is valued in Swedish healthcare and education.
Lagom is associated with being fair, in life and in business, in order to create balance. The focus is on society as a whole and making sure that everyone has enough.
How Exactly Can You Do And Be More Lagom?
You can start living more lagom at any time in the year, but January is a good time to be more conscious, as it has that psychological fresh start effect that naturally makes us more reflective of the year just gone, and the year ahead. When we start a new year, many of us become more focused on what we want to achieve with the shiny brand new year.
Focusing on intentions such as being more frugal and aware of the spending of your money, working to improve your work/life balance, learning how to better manage stress levels, or reducing your global footprint, helps to cultivate more lagom in your life. Doing more of what sets your soul on fire also helps charge you with lagom, as this creates more bliss and balance by relieving us of the stressors of everyday life.
Making small changes with the lagom mind-set will improve your wellbeing in a sustainable, long-lasting way. Your peace of mind will improve as you’re more socially aware of how your actions as an individual affect the whole. Your mental and physical health will improve as you start thinking with the intention to create more balance in your life every day.
Maybe lagom is a new state of mind and lifestyle you’re curious to try out now. And there’s still no harm in keeping those warm, peaceful hygge moments like drinking your favourite steamy cup of tea by the fire! We can still use the best of both!
Written by Jess Burman
BA (Honours) Writing