Health Tips from Around the World (Part 2)
In my last article, I told you about health advices from Tibet, China, Japan and Norway. Here are others that will help you lead a healthy and balanced life by just following these few examples. Health is more than food on your plate (secondary food).
Your well-being is closely linked to a fulfilling career, rewarding relationships, rich spiritual practice and regular exercise (primary food).
You know the warm and comfortable feeling when you snuggle up near a fire with a good book and a loved one by your side. The Danes call it hyggelig, and many recognize it as helping to get through the dark winters. Hyggelig is simply about enjoying the good things in life with good people - the best primary food.
There is no direct English translation for Hygge (pronounced /ˈhjuːɡə/). The definition is “A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being". Its roots can be found in the 16th century Norwegian word hugga, which is related to the English word "hug". This lexical link is not surprising: hygge is somehow a hug.
Louisa Thomsen Brits explains in "The book of Hygge" that Hygge is "as simple as a candle, lit and placed on a windowsill to welcome someone home. It is both an inner and outer condition of simplicity; a clarity of presence and intention, and an honest, uncomplicated practice".
This attention to the present moment and sensory experience means that Hygge is like mindfulness. Whether the idea appeals to you or not, it is worth noting that mindfulness techniques have been linked with improving mental health.
Fika is a Swedish coffee break, but it is very different from the one you may be familiar with. Fika is a time to slow down and really appreciate the good things in life. Coffee or tea is served with biscuits or some sort of pastry. It is a good time to connect and relax, without a real goal. Fika are excellent examples of primary and secondary food associations.
Rather than pouring your coffee into a thermos and running out, try to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea with a sweet treat. If you are not a morning person, try taking a break at one point in your day. Try to do it several times a week and see what difference it can make.
Argentina and Uruguay
Although yerba mate has become popular in recent years, it has been the focal point of a bonding ritual in Argentina for centuries. Tomando mate, which simply means "drink mate", represents community and hospitality. Friends and family spend a gourd of this energizing tea.
Mate, consumed in the traditional gourd-shaped container, is made from the dried leaf of yerba. It is the centre of a recognized drinking tradition, comparable to Italians who gather to have an espresso in a café or the Japanese tea ritual.
Originally from Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, yerba mate is an herbal tea made from leaves of the plant llex paraguariensis. It is commonly used as a replacement for coffee due to its long list of health benefits. Yerba Mate is rich in antioxidants, increases energy, can improve physical performance, can protect against infections, can help you lose weight and can strengthen your immune system.
Try to introduce mate into your daily routine. Swap your morning coffee for a cup of mate and see if you notice an increase in energy throughout the day. It is important to note that it contains caffeine. Therefore, if you have a bad reaction to caffeine, it may not be the practice for you.
Siestas, or afternoon naps, are a great way to restart your body, reduce stress, improve alertness and help cardiovascular function. Even 15 minutes will be very useful. Sleep is one of my favourite forms of primary foods - count on me!
Originally designed to allow farm workers to escape from the hottest part of the day, the siesta or afternoon nap is no longer universally observed, but we could all learn something from the concept.
NASA found that 26-minute naps improved astronaut performance. Google and The Huffington Post are among the companies that provide rest rooms for staff. Closing your eyes and disconnecting from the world can give you a boost. If you have trouble sleeping during the day or if your employer has not yet adopted the trend of rest rooms, taking mini breaks could be very helpful.
Egypt, Morocco and Turkey
The Islamic hammams, which we also know as Turkish baths, have their origin in the rituals of religious purification. A traditional hammam is constructed of three interconnecting rooms, a large dome-shaped room with glass windows and a central marble slab with running water, a warm room and a cool room. Separated into quarters for men and women, you start with a full body exfoliation, wash your hair and body in the second room, and finish the treatment in the cold room with tea and relax. Today they are used for relaxation and deep cleansing of internal organs through perspiration. Spending time in hot baths and / or steam baths improves detoxification, circulation, digestion, skin health and more.
Iceland is known as "the land of fire and ice" because of its unique blend of glaciers and volcanic activity. This geothermal energy warms some of the water bodies, creating natural hot springs. Therefore, when life gives you a land of fire and ice, you take advantage of this geothermal benefit and soak in hot springs. Iceland has more geothermal areas than any other country, which was not forgotten by early settlers, who referred to these geothermal phenomena in their place names, such as varm (warm), reyk (smoke/steam) or laug (pool).
Families, teenagers and seniors lounge in the sundlaugs every day, summer and winter. Despite the cruel climate in Iceland, its isolation and winters of 19 hours of darkness per day, its inhabitants are among the most satisfied in the world. The remarkable satisfaction of the Icelanders is inextricably linked to the experience of escaping the icy, freezing air and sinking into hot water. Pools represent more than a humble municipal investment, more than just civics from an accident in Icelandic volcanic geology. In fact, they seem to be the key to Icelandic well-being.
These hot springs would have benefits such as acne control, anti-aging properties, pain relief, increased endorphins and better blood circulation.
Find a natural source in your area. There are many around the world, not only in cold weather. If you are not near a natural hot spring, opt for a warm bath with natural bath salts. Taking the time to give love to your skin will improve your daily activities.
Learn from other cultures and try a new practice that you may never have tried. Show your appreciation to your friends and family by sharing these practices with them.
Which of these traditions are you most enthusiastic to experiment? What are the health and wellness traditions you grew up with?
Let me know in the comments below!