How People Relax Around The World Will Inspire Your Next Self Care Day
What does a little R&R look like for you? It’s fascinating when you find out how people relax around the world compared to how you’ve grown accustomed to decompressing, because when it comes to the activities or foods that someone considers “soothing,” it really is so subjective. For me, an integral part of self-care is a large mug full of something warm to sip on, but maybe your ideal moment to unwind features a tall glass of wine. If I were to go that route, I’d personally prefer a bottle of white or pink, but for those who fancy red wine, there’s a salon in London that now offers wine bath therapy where, instead of bubbles, you can soak your troubles and ease your mind in a tub of merlot. Sounds super fancy, right?
Well, that's not the only unique self-care trend sweeping the world outside your time zone. Elite Daily received the results of Currys PC World and Samsung's Time Well Spent campaign, which highlights unique self-care and relaxation rituals from around the world. From casual coffee breaks to yoga classes meant to make you double over with laughter, these are the brilliant activities and clever, subtle behaviors that have people living a little bit easier, day by day. My advice is that we all pick our favorites and follow suit.
Argentinians Grab A (Non-Alcoholic) Drink With Friends
If you work a stressful office gig, it might be a vital part of your Friday night to duck out early with friends or co-workers and lift your spirits with a fruity cocktail or draft beer at a local bar. According to Mark Williamson, co-founder of Action for Happiness, Argentinians enjoy sharing a drink with friends to wind down, too — except you probably won't find alcohol in their cups.
In Argentina, happy hour features pots of mate (pronounced "martay"), which is a caffeinated beverage similar to tea, made from dried, ground-up yerba leaf, soaked in hot water. "The pot is shared between friends," Williamson explains, "while news and gossip are exchanged." The activity is both cathartic and healthy, as yerba leaves boast a ton of health benefits, like reducing stress caused by free radicals in the body.
Brazilians Break It Down With An Aerobic-Inspired Dance
Similar to how you might pop into a Zumba class to dance away daily stressors with the added bonus of working up a sweat in the process, Williamson says a similar kind of performance is huge in Brazil. This endorphins-booster is called capoeira, and it's part break-dancing, part acrobatic moves, so not only does it instill rhythm in you, it's also going to whoop your stressed-out ass into shape.
Unlike Zumba, capoeira is performed to drums and rhythmic clapping, rather than whatever's ranking on Billboard's Top 40, and what starts as a swinging of the arms turns into a series of backflips, cartwheels, and choreographed spins with exaggerated kicks. I'm getting sweaty just thinking about it, but you know what they say about endorphins making you happy, right? In fact, according to Williamson, people tend to "lose themselves" in their body's every move to the music:
Performers lose themselves in the dance. The outside world ceases to matter, allowing capoeiristas to forget about their day-to-day struggles as they move their bodies and exert their muscles for a heady rush of endorphins.
So when's the next flight to Brazil?
In Iceland, They Wind Down In Gorgeous Hot Springs
Because of where it's located geographically, Icelanders take full advantage of the many hot springs their homeland is known for. A hot spring, for those of you who don't know, is a body of ice water that is actively being heated by the earth, resulting in H2O that measures out at 40 degrees Celsius, or 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
So mentally, you're chillin', but physically, you're sweating, and it really is the best of both worlds. Williamson also notes the water is rich in silica, which is a compound of sand that's said to works wonders on physical stressors, such as eczema and acne, so your outer shell can find some relief, too.
In India, They Take Yoga Classes To Make Them Laugh
Sometimes all it takes to feel better about whatever's weighing you down is to let it all out through laughter. Sure, hot yoga's bomb for working up a killer sweat, and who doesn't adore a slow vinyasa to stretch out the kinks? But in India, there exists a type of yoga that's not only soothing, but downright hysterical — literally.
It turns out, Williamson explains, your body can't usually tell the difference between a fake laugh and a real, hearty giggle (kind of like how it doesn't really understand the difference between TV friends and IRL BFFs). "When you choose to belly laugh," Williamson says, "you can keep going and going, prolonging the feel-good vibes," which is exactly what laughter yoga entails.
Laughter yoga classes run for 30-minute sessions, are typically performed in groups, and focus on the science behind endorphin-inducing chuckles to help you laugh away your stress. It sounds funny, but it's also seriously amazing.
North Americans Inhale The Good Vibes And Exhale The Bad Ones
Take a moment to look around your living space. Do you own a diffuser for essential oils? Or perhaps you have a sage stick you used to cleanse your new apartment when you first moved in? The idea of inhaling soothing scents to wind down after a hard day isn't exactly new, friends. In fact, Native American culture coined the trend years ago by burning sage to allow the aroma ease the body and mind.
Sage smudging, Williamson says, is an "ancient practice believed to purify the air and cleanse the spirit." It's not so much a production, as it is a helpful habit you can pick up on days when you feel a little more stressed than usual. Light the sage, close the windows, and reap all the amazing mental health benefits, from improving your mood to nursing annoying headaches.
Norwegians Take A Lot Of Nature Walks
In Norway, Williamson explains, work-life balance isn't much of an issue. The motto "work to live, don't live to work" is one to live by in this part of the world, which means working behind a desk isn't so stressful when you balance it out with a ton of one-on-one time with nature.
According to Williamson, Norwegians make it a point to get out of the house and into the wilderness as often as they can. This time is called "friluftsliv," coined by the poet Henrik Ibsen, and can be roughly translated to mean "outdoor life." Sounds lovely, doesn't it? Rain or shine, Norwegian natives love long walks, hiking, camping, and the like, even when it's super chilly outside (what else are layers for, right?).
Swedes Are All About Indulgent Coffee Breaks
My husband used to work for a Swedish company, and I always assumed he was exaggerating when he'd talk about how his co-workers in Sweden took hour-long coffee breaks on top of the time they were allotted for lunch. When we went to visit the beautiful country ourselves, though, I witnessed firsthand that snack time for Swedes is no joke, and TBH, I'm kind of annoyed that America hasn't caught on to this trend yet.
These hour-long breaks are scattered throughout the day, and our Swedish friends refer to them as "fika." The custom simply calls for a cup of coffee (or tea, or hot chocolate — whatever suits your taste buds) and some sort of baked good. The idea is that leisurely sipping on something hot and biting into doughy goodness with friends can help you unwind at any point throughout the day, so stress levels don't boil over.
C'mon, America! Let's get with the program, please.