Sweden and Healthy Habits

Five healthy habits that everyone in Sweden has.

Overall, Swedes are a healthy bunch. They rank among the best in terms of physical health. And if you take a more holistic view of health, you will find Sweden ranking at the top of happiness levels, health care quality, low stress levels, etc. How do the Swedes achieve this?

Let’s look at five healthy habits you’ll find throughout Sweden!

Walk or Cycle Everywhere

In Sweden, we walk or cycle everywhere. Drivers licenses are expensive and parking is tight, but bike paths are plentiful and safe. I personally love walking and the efficiency-conscious side of myself feels so proud when I get some exercise and run an errand at the same time. The 30-minute walk to the library is a great time to get out in nature. The 20-minute walk home from my yoga studio is a nice cool down. And carrying the cat litter home from the store and up four flights of stairs is a good arm workout. Needless to say, I get my 10,000 steps in each day.

Living in Sweden mandates that you own a bike and a good pair of walking shoes. Want to know what else everyone living in Sweden needs? Read here.

Curious to know more? Read all about biking in Sweden here.

Work-life Balance

Swedes have a notoriously good work-life balance. Walk around any time of day and you will find the cafes, hair salons, and stores full. Seriously. It is like no one is working! But it just goes to show that Swedes have a good work-life balance.

On the whole, Swedes value efficiency, so they get their tasks done quickly, without wasting extra time on it. Unlike in the US, staying late at the office isn’t a good thing. Instead, it may signal to your boss that you are falling behind on your work or have too much on your plate.

Similarly, the parental leave is very generous (read more on that here!) and many employers offer wellness hours during work. And, of course, you get plenty of vacation time.

Curious to know more about work-life balance in Sweden? Read my full post here.

Taking Breaks

Fika is a huge part of Swedish culture. It comes into play with family, friendships, and office culture. Because it is so imbedded in the national culture, at least once a day Swedes sit down for a coffee break with friends, family, or colleagues. This helps foster stronger bonds, provides a technical break, facilitate connections, and boosts energy levels back up.

But Sweden also knows that a fika every day isn’t enough. That’s why everyone here gets five weeks of national vacation time. Minimum. It is typical for all of Sweden to shut down in July and most people take 3-5 weeks off straight. This allows them to truly disconnect from work and reconnect with themselves.

Limit Stress

It is 2021 and we all know that stress is lethal. Any action that helps limit stress will in turn promote health and wellbeing. Sweden keeps stress low for its residents by providing free high-quality health care and education. And you can feel secure in knowing that salaries are regulated and there is a high level of income equality. Plus, the job market is good, it is safe, family-friendly, and the government is stable. By just living here Maslow’s basic needs are met and you are well on your way to self-actualization.

Curious to learn more about Sweden’s stance on mental health? Read here.

Embrace Continuous Learning

Learning, growing, and developing helps boost our sense of purpose and drives curiosity. Swedes really embrace continuous learning! Because education is free, most adults here have a Master degree or two. It is also really common to be part of an association or networking group.

Language learning and exploring other cultures are also popular past times. And you can definitely expect Swedes to be up-to-date on world events!

Fun Facts:

  • Sweden ranked #23 in the world for health care quality by the World Health Organization in 2000.
  • According to Statista, “The ordinary weekly working hours in Sweden are stated to equal 40 hours. However, the actual average reported weekly working hours in Sweden fluctuated between 29.2 and 30.9 hours per week during the period from 2010 to 2020. In 2020, an actual working week amounted to 29.2 hours on average.” I believe it.

Tess’ Tips:

  • Trying to kick a smoking habit? The Swedish go-to for this is snus, or similar to what we know as “snuff” in the US. It definitely limits second-hand smoke, which we can all appreciate.

Hope you learned some new Swedishness today and I’ll see you in the next post!


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