Well-being Rituals from Around the World to Beat the January Blues
When the festive cheer of Christmas has faded, the prospect of a long January can leave even the most positive of us feeling flat.
Planning the next escape can give us something to look forward to, but incorporating wholesome habits into our daily routine can also provide just the pick-me-up we need. Whether experiencing these rituals in situ or adjusting our lifestyle at home, we can take inspiration from countries around the world that have healthy ways of boosting wellbeing.
From “còsagach” in Scotland or “sobremesa” in Spain to “Ubuntu” in South Africa or “Mysig” in Sweden, read on for Flightgiftcard's round-up of destinations that foster fulfillment through positive lifestyle practices.
India: Laughing yoga
As the birthplace of yoga, India is a deeply spiritual country, well-known as a place of reflection and meditation. Although yoga is commonplace in the UK, “laughter yoga” is still a thoroughly Indian practice. Practitioners claim that our bodies benefit from the combination of laughter and yoga, and a good belly laugh followed by stretching and flexing is good for our muscles, posture, core, any aches and pains, and, of course, positively boosts our mental wellbeing by releasing feel-good endorphins.
South Africa: Ubuntu
Translated from Zulu, “ubuntu” is about showing humanity towards others. It encourages being open in heart, soul, and mind, connecting with your surroundings and community, and helping others. As more of us look towards meaningful travel as a way to give back, incorporating a sense of ubuntu into our daily routine is a great way to add meaning to our own - and others' - lives.
The midday meal is the largest and most important meal of the day in Spain. It's also a place to enjoy a “sobremesa”… Once all the food has been consumed, Spaniards like to linger to share stories, drink coffee and play cards before resuming the rest of the day (or heading to the sofa for a siesta!). Forget the 'food-is-fuel' mantra, this custom is about indulging in long, lazy lunches and spending quality time with friends or family over many courses and lots of options – Spain is the home of the sociable food ritual of tapas after all. Why not adopt the Spanish tradition of sobremesa to help you through the cold winter weekends? Or book that trip to Valencia, Madrid or Barcelona to enjoy it in situ!
A Scottish Gaelic word to rival Danish hygge, còsagach (pronounced coze-sag-och) means 'snug, sheltered or cosy'. Scotland's harsh winters provide the perfect excuse to hole up indoors and the perfect opportunity to delve into that neglected book, snuggle in front of the fire, and enjoy a hot chocolate (or toddy), whilst listening to the weather raging outside. Còsagach is all about slowing down, unwinding and recharging. Whether it's in your own home or in a cosy pub or mountain lodge in Scotland, this ritual is sure to get you through the winter feeling warm and fuzzy.
France: Joie de Vivre
“A cheerful enjoyment of life; or an exultation of spirit,” are two definitions of France's joie de vivre. It could be enjoying a great meal or an interesting conversation, sitting at a café and watching the world go by, or simply spending time with loved ones and feeling a sense of happiness and contentment in doing so. We all know the benefits of slowing down, putting our phones away, and just being present to enjoy whatever we're doing. To get some joy into your routine, try a new class (sport or craft), learn a new skill, or challenge yourself to try something you've always wanted to.
Mysig in Swedish is a term that encapsulates being kind to oneself, spending quality time, getting cosy, enjoying indulgences and taking pleasure in simple things. As well as creating a cosy environment, Swedes make sure they find time to do things that make them happy, such as having dinner with family, baking – a standard Swedish winter ritual - relaxing in a hot bath with candles, or snuggling on the sofa with a good book and hot drink. Embrace the downtime Swedish-style and disconnect for a calmer, happier you this January.
Nordic countries score highly on the World Happiness Index, with Norway regularly taking a place in the top five. Norwegians can often be found exploring the countryside on weekends thanks to the spectacular landscapes made up of glaciers, mountains, and forests. An appreciation of the great outdoors is coined as “friluftsliv”, a Norwegian word meaning 'celebration of nature'. Whether it's going for walks, learning to fish, put down the phone and enjoy a day in the wild.