7 Surprisingly Simple Wellness Practices From the Happiest People in the World

nordic family"
nordic family
Source: Canva
Source: Canva

Several weeks ago, thanks to TikTok, I found my latest micro-obsession: Finnish wellness practices. As I was scrolling, I came across a Finnish content creator living in LA and was instantly hooked on hearing her explain the differences between the cultures of Finland and the U.S. (They let their babies sleep outside in the winter—what?!) I began to dig deeper into this fascinating culture and learned that Finland as well as several other Nordic countries are known for being the happiest countries in the world. Knowing that winter is an extremely long, dark season there, I had to know more.

With the help of my new favorite TikTok creator, Aurora of @rorayoga, I learned that the secret to their undeniable happiness may be much more simple than we think and easily incorporated into our everyday lives. Unsurprisingly, many of the practices involve a diet that prioritizes gut health and overall nutritional wellness. Other practices are more physical but are far from extensive workout routines and crash diets.

A common theme in these Nordic wellness practices is the reduction in stress, anxiety, and depression. It’s no wonder the people of Nordic cultures are dubbed the ‘happiest people in the world’ when they lead a lifestyle that reduces common causes of unhappiness. But the best part of these wellness secrets is that many of them are simple practices that can be incorporated into our everyday lives. I figured if we commit to all or even just a few of them, maybe we can experience some of that Nordic bliss. Read on for seven Nordic wellness practices you can try today.

Simple Nordic Wellness Practices

1. Eating More Berries

The first of several nutritional practices Nordic people swear by is eating more berries. Some of the most common are blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. It comes as no surprise that we should be incorporating fruit into what we eat in a day. But why is that exactly? And what makes the Nordic cultures prioritize these superfoods?

The answer may be that these berries are high in antioxidants, which may reduce the risk of diseases like heart disease and cancer. Strawberries are high in Vitamin C, which is great for maintaining healthy skin, bones, and blood vessels and helps to protect cells. Meanwhile, blueberries may reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Blackberries are a great source of fiber—which enhances gut health—and Vitamin C. Who knew such small foods could hold so many nutrients? Apparently, the Nordics!

nordic wellness practices
Source: @ryupure

2. Eating More Fish

Being situated by the Baltic Sea and home to several lakes and rivers means that fish are abundant in the Nordic culture. Eating fish is a common healthy habit in the region and something that benefits the human body more than we may know. Highly available in our neck of the woods, too, it wouldn’t be too difficult to incorporate some salmon or trout into our weekly menus.

Many of us know by now that fish are high in omega 3s, but what do those actually do for us? Omega 3s have great anti-inflammatory properties, meaning they may aid in combating common illnesses that chronic inflammation can cause (heart disease and cancer, for example). They may also aid in lessening depression and anxiety, improving mental disorders, and improving bone and joint health, among other things.

3. Relaxing in a Finnish Sauna

You may have heard about more and more people hopping on the sauna bandwagon in recent years. No surprise there, as saunas have some pretty undeniable health benefits. In fact, people in Nordic cultures have been reaping the benefits for centuries. The traditional Finnish sauna is a combination of dry heat and steam that’s created by throwing water on hot stones. The heat and accompanying humidity allow our bodies to detoxify by activating deep sweating.

This detoxification process is great for things like improving blood circulation, immune function, muscle relaxation, and recovery, as well as stress relief and congestion reduction. Not to mention, as we sweat, our bodies are removing dead skin cells, therefore improving our overall skin health—yes, please!

While Finnish people have saunas in their homes, cabins, and even some office buildings, we don’t need to spend a fortune to have one put in our backyard. In fact, many cities are opening more and more sauna studios to the public, making it an attainable practice that can be added to a wellness routine. The Nordics see sauna use as a time to sit in peace without the distraction of devices and use it as a means to slow down their thoughts. This time, with limited distractions, allows for stress and anxiety reduction. Now that’s something we can all get behind!

finnish wellness sauna
Source: Shutterstock

4. Ice Dipping

On the other end of the spectrum of extreme heat is extreme cold! A common Scandinavian wellness practice, the cold plunge actually works well in tandem with sauna use. When done without preexisting cardiovascular or respiratory problems, a cold plunge, even on its own, is great for things like reducing inflammation, pain, stress, and anxiety. Plus, it aids in increasing circulation, immune function, and cardiovascular health.

Traditionally, Nordic cultures will embrace the forces of nature and take their ice dipping to the extreme by cutting a hole in a frozen lake. But perhaps the best part of ice dipping is that it can be done in a number of ways. If you have access to a lake and can safely do so, do as the Nordics do! Those of us who don’t, though, can experience the same benefits with an ice bath at home or a studio. Some sauna studios even offer the duo experience for optimal benefits.

5. Adding More Mushrooms to Your Diet

When you go out and fill your grocery cart with some delicious berries and fish, be sure to add some mushrooms to your list as well! The Finnish people have seen significant benefits to eating these tasty fungi regularly. Not the least of these is that they stimulate the immune system. They’re also known to lower inflammation, increase cellular health, and provide anti-aging antioxidants.

6. Eating Licorice

While the idea of eating licorice may sound appealing right off the bat, it’s important to point out we’re not talking about Red Vines. Nordic cultures—and plenty of others—have used natural licorice root for several health benefits over the years. Native to Mediterranean and Western Asian regions, the plant has been used for thousands of years and dates back to Chinese medicine.

It’s a staple in Finnish cultures for its effects, like treating liver, kidney, and lung conditions. On top of that, it’s great for digestion, treating circulatory illnesses, and alleviating menopausal and hormonal issues. Plus, it can aid in treating colds and viral and bacterial infections.

Many people incorporate licorice root into their diet by adding it to tea, syrups, and sauces. It doesn’t hurt that it’s naturally sweet, too—thus, where the candy form comes in.

nordic wellness practices
Source: @alliemtaylor

7. Spending Regular Time in Nature

Even in some of the coldest climates, the Nordic people make no excuses when it comes to spending time outdoors. To them, it’s practically a no-brainer. With an abundance of forest space in Nordic countries, people often take advantage of being situated so close to nature. Taking regular walks and spending time outdoors offers an opportunity to spend time in silence, reconnect with the earth, and center ourselves—see a theme here?

This is a practice all of us can incorporate, whether we live near expansive nature or not. It may be as simple as a walk to a local park, spending a sunny day in our backyard, or planning a hiking trip every so often. Getting outside and reconnecting with nature allows a great stress relief opportunity, therefore reducing the effects of depression and anxiety. On top of a mood boost, we may experience better sleep, life longevity, and boosted heart health. All of this simply by regularly spending time in the great outdoors as the Nordics do!

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