Take a new turn on your health path and live like the Swedes by following the ‘Lagom’ way of life. If it is time for meaningful life choices, and that means making ones which benefit your health, then perhaps Lagom may be just what you’re searching for!
What is lagom?
Lagom, literally translating as “just the right amount” or “not too little, not too much”, is a way of life that is becoming extremely popular in the wellness world. The theory behind it is keeping everything in moderation – something my grandfather used to profess to my mother and then on to me – and keeping anything extreme out of daily life. It means that we strive to maintain a balance in life by not going too far, but not doing nothing at all!
It is something we can apply to everything we do in our lives by discovering our boundaries, to avoid that which is overwhelming but at the same time ensuring we are also satisfied. To avoid excess including stress, extreme diets, over-exertion, is necessary for a lagom lifestyle. It is something we can develop as a sort of inner mantra when making decisions – “shall I have another glass of wine, or will that tip my balance?” or simply opting for the middle ground when it comes to even the most mundane choices – buying the half-fat milk as opposed to full cream or zero fat! It does depend on personal abilities as to the decisions you make, when it comes to exercise for example the lagom way would indicate that a long brisk walk would win over an hour of intense cardio.
Lagom could be described as the middle path, some may consider it limiting as it doesn’t incorporate or suggest much excitement but rather leans towards the sensible and mindful. Yet it continues to gain more and more interest and attention as a more desirable way of life staving away from highly stressful, fast-paced, excessive lifestyles which tend to cause disruption and often illness. Lagom inspires productivity and happiness by steering clear of that which absorbs all our energy.
So how can we achieve a life of lagom within a society which values the extreme so highly?
There are ways to avoid the excess which we have become so used to experiencing to the point we consider them a part of life. To be effective and keep our productivity levels up we need to take breaks. Regular breaks. We also need to move our bodies for about fifteen minutes per hour we are seated. So, if your job entails keeping your legs under a desk for most of the working day, make sure you take time out to stop, stretch, walk about and move your body. This will also allow your mind to clear and give space to begin again a little less overwhelmed. We are not built to mentally work for hours on end, it affects the quality of our performance when we tire and so breaking the rhythm for a few minutes can be a vital part of your working day. Make sure said breaks are not filled with checking your phone or social media but rather checking in with yourself; practice mindfulness or even a quick meditation.
Apply lagom to your daily list of things to do; keep your to-do list realistic and make sure there is an achievable amount of items on it. You don’t want to find stress in the simple action of getting things done, and so it is best to be able to check things off comfortably with satisfaction rather than feeling like you’re tackling unreachable hurdles. Promote self-care by checking in with yourself and what your priorities really are and let the things go that you can’t fit in, making your schedule one which you can follow without stress. And don’t neglect to ensure that your wellbeing features on that list!
Make sure your diet is varied and balanced. Eat a wide range of plant-based foods and don’t opt for excess in anything you ingest.
Keep fit, but, in true lagom fashion, don’t overexert yourself. Take those long walks or a gentle run, practice yoga, tai chi, stretch and move, yet don’t leave yourself exhausted.
Make time for yourself. Make sure that amidst a busy life you take time out to do things which you enjoy, those little things that make you smile. A hot bath with aromatic candles, a walk in the park, a phone call with a close friend, a yoga class, read the newspaper, anything which will give you that boost. Fill your free time with that which makes you feel good, say no to that which doesn’t. This may sound obvious but so many of us accept invitations we could do without and sacrifice our spare time for things we would rather not do, so empower yourself and find the value in saying no.
Keep life and your home simple; relieve your surroundings of clutter and opt for a minimalist environment. Studies have proven that a messy or stuff-filled work or living space can cause unwanted, and unnecessary, stress. Make a day of decluttering and reducing in and around your home and feel the difference.
For some the idea of consistent moderation seems a little lacking in excitement and so it could be argued that we do need a little adrenaline boost from time to time; one famous attitude, from a man who definitely lived a full life, could be taken on when it comes to lagom – “after all, everything in moderation…including moderation itself”, Oscar Wilde.
I personally agree with Wilde in that from time to time we need to push life’s boundaries a little to feel a vibrancy that may go amiss if lagom were followed religiously. However I definitely see the positive calmness and balance that can be achieved by taking the middle path as a general rule of thumb for a peaceful, healthy life.
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