From Hygge to Niksen and now Lagom – why it’s the perfect time to embrace a more moderate way of life…
Christmas for me was dominated by Denmark’s Hygge, the delightfully indulgent concept of getting cozy – think candles, blankets, roaring fires and toasting marshmallows.
Then came the next buzzword in this little series, Niksen – a wonderfully relaxing and simplistic concept emerging from the Netherlands, which simply translates as ‘the art of doing nothing’. I did plenty of that over the festive period, too (by “that” I mean nothing, of course!).
And now, with the festivities behind us but a world of uncertainty still with us, I’m waxing lyrical about Sweden’s Lagom, which encourages us to approach life with an ‘everything in moderation’ mindset. There’s never been a better time to embrace it…
Lagom roughly translates as “just the right amount” or “not too much” and at an uncertain time filled with stresses and strains, Lagom is a refreshing insight into how one of the happiest and most satisfied countries achieves pure balance in everyday life.
The concept can be applied to almost all aspects of life to benefit body and mind – finding the right balance in your work life, with the food you eat, the amount of alcohol you drink, and the amount of pressure you put on yourself – though if I’m being brutally honest, no one’s judging if you indulge in an extra glass of wine at the moment…bottom’s up!
Lagom for the mind
In a world of excess stress, pressure and a constant lingering online presence at our fingertips, finding a balance for our brains can be hard. In her book “Live Lagom” (Ebury Press), which I have been devouring recently, author Anna Brones discusses the idea of letting go of negative emotions and frustrations and spending more time in the real world as opposed to the virtual. Some of the best ways to free yourself from negative emotions and stresses include unplugging from the online.
Hands up all of you who, like me, have wasted hours of your life scrolling through the virtual walls of social media? And I bet when you finally tore yourself away you weren’t filled with joy and happiness, am I right? Well, Brones recommends spending less time online and more time with people face-to-face (in a non-Covid world, of course).
She also espouses the importance of taking time for solitude and self-care – just an hour alone in a nice hot bath or reading a book in front of a roaring fire is necessary for striking the perfect balance in your mental health.
Too much time online and not enough physical time and time alone will leave you mentally imbalanced.
Lagom for the body
Weight-loss plans and crash diets have become the norm in a culture of excess. When working long hours, fitting in healthy meal plans can be a bit of a chore – believe me, I know! And in our world of excesses and extremes, we’re willing to take drastic measures to fit into that dream dress by the summer – from crash diets to extreme fitness regimes, we’ll do whatever it takes. But our bodies crave balance and moderation and it’s never been more important to take care of ourselves.
With this in mind, try to weave moderate exercise into your regime rather than cramming in intense and punishing workouts a the end of the day. Remember, exercise doesn’t have to require all the gear – a simple walk during a lunch break, or using a standing desk and moving about more during the day all count towards your exercise quota, so no need for punishing regimes.
And remember to bring the enjoyment back into your fitness – if you don’t enjoy running in the cold and wet, don’t do it! Find something you enjoy, such as a spot of Pilates indoors. You’re more likely to stick to it if you enjoy it.
Take Lagom to work
There are a few differences between us British and American folks and the Swedes. For starters, the Swedes tend to refer to a work-life balance as a life-work balance, putting an emphasis on life outside of the workplace first. Now don’t get me wrong, we all need to work (unless you’re super rich, in which case, well done you and can you lend us a dollar?) to be able to put a roof over our heads and food on the table. Plus, most of us get a great sense of achievement and satisfaction from working, but there’s a lot to be said for keeping your working hours in check and embracing the “everything in moderation” lifestyle.
Brones promotes the idea of “how can I work better?” as opposed “how can I work less?” which really struck a chord with me. Being more efficient in the way you work will allow you to get more done, thus helping you achieve the life-work balance you want to achieve.
A few ways to ensure you work better include… taking more breaks. Us workaholics tend to power through the day, dosed up on coffee with a pretzel-to-go, but this lack of downtime will actually make you less efficient in the long run, so regular screen breaks are key to efficiency. 10-15 minutes at a time is all you need.
Next up, always remember it’s quality over quantity – spend more time focused on completing one task well, rather than starting a hundred others and not getting them finished.
And finally plan and prioritize. Always have a plan for what you need to achieve – this will help eliminate the chance or procrastination and the need to multi-task, thus ensuring you work more effectively and efficiently. Bravo!
In essence, there are so many ways to bring Lagom to your life – it’s all about balance and not taking things to the extreme. Whatever you do, just aim to do it with balance and think of ways you can do it well. No more rushing around like a headless chicken and more time for you. Doesn’t that sound good?