With the dark days of winter quickly approaching, the hygge trend of 2017 is top of mind. But maybe on its way out. This year, we’re adding a new Scandinavian concept to our vocabulary: lagom. The everyday Swedish philosophy promotes happiness by seeking balance in all aspects of life. Pronounced "lah-gom," it loosely translates as "everything in moderation" or "not too much and not too little." My Scandinavian Home blogger Niki Brantmark, author of the new book, Lagom (Not Too Little, Not Too Much): The Swedish Art of Living a Balanced, Happy Life, told us how to apply the new-to-us concept to our travel routine.
1. Take All Your Vacation Days
To really switch off, you need time to unwind and give yourself a proper break. In Sweden, most people get five to six weeks off every year, and the majority use a lot of it during the summer months when the weather is at its best. It’s very rare for Swedes to take less than three to four weeks off in the summer. Of course, work regulations don’t allow everyone around the world to take four consecutive weeks, but research has shown that many people aren’t even taking all their allotted days. The Glassdoor-Harris Interactive Survey found that one in four Americans don’t use all their allocated paid vacation days, and, out of those, 61 percent worked while on holiday. This is a crying shame when you look at the benefits of time off, including reduced stress, more energy, improved creativity, more productivity when you return to work — and having time to bond with your family. Not to mention the pure enjoyment of a piña colada at sunset.
2. Don’t Over-Schedule Your Vacation
Swedes typically book their time off and plan only a little of their vacation. This gives them free time to do what they feel in the moment or to spend some of the time at home. Every minute of their holiday isn’t booked in advance. They leave time to be spontaneous. If the mood strikes, they can spend an afternoon gardening or head to the sea with friends.
3. Keep Things Simple
Lagom is about not going over the top and keeping things fairly simple — not too much, not too little, just right. Oftentimes, Swedes will go to a summer cottage to visit friends and families for their vacation. These cottages are normally very basic. They have everything you'd need to be comfortable, but don't go any further. Swedes are all about being outside, so they’ll throw the doors open and enjoy nature. It’s usually not a very expensive excursion. They spend their time baking bread, foraging for berries, and throwing lunches in the garden. There’s no schedule to keep and nothing to worry about.
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4. Consider Camping
People can camp anywhere in Sweden because of the law of allemänsrätten, which means “every man’s right of way.” The countryside is open to everyone: People can pick berries or forage mushrooms as long as they don’t take all of them or disrupt the land. You could literally pitch a tent anywhere. Although this is not the case in the United States, I think there is a lesson to be learned about camping. You really can switch off and get away from it all — especially when you’re forced to be without internet.
5. Dare to Go
The Swedes are a fiercely independent bunch. From an early age, they are taught to be self-sufficient. You may not think about taking a trip or excursion on your own, like a drive out to the country. But it’s in these solitary moments that you appreciate the rustle of the leaves in the wind, the sound of the breaking waves, or the distant melody of a lark. The unbroken spell of nature allows you to slow down, switch off, and be alone with your thoughts — something of a rarity in the noisy world in which we live today.
Lagom (Not Too Little, Not Too Much): The Swedish Art of Living a Balanced, Happy Life, by Niki Brantmark is now available. And it's so pretty, too!