Norway vs UK: the art of chill
This piece was originally published in my weekly Digest in 2017
As the Autumn season is a little further ahead in Norway than the UK, i’ve been getting a taste of what’s to come in the weeks ahead and it really got me in the mood for hunkering down into even more cosier knits (obvs meant new additions to my Pinterest vinter kos aesthetic board...), and revisiting some old rituals from my life living in Scandinavia.
Of course, because i’m literally obsessed with weather and elements, i was most immediately aware of the autumn transitions happening before my eyes, the movement, shifts and changes were startling!
But what i took home with me was a really inspiring reminder:
- Norwegians take their time off very seriously.
They work less hours in general and tend to have a healthy work-life balance. Healthier than the UK at least.
They have longer holidays in general - the country pretty much shuts down for a month in the summer and in December too. Oh and 17 May….
And what happens in Norway on Sundays is pretty special: There are still strict laws on opening hours (kind of like what it was like in the UK in the 80s and when Bejam still existed) pretty much all the stores are closed (bar a few very small establishments) and the streets are noticeably quiet. It’s common for people to take Sundays off. To slow down. To take time. To mooch. To restore.
I was also reminded of this by some of the folks attending the workshops, as well as by my old chum who i got to hang out with right before heading home. I asked them, “what are you up to for the rest of the day?”
They all replied that they were relaxing. Taking it easy. Even using the response “nothing”. Which i haven’t heard from someone in a really long time.
Norwegians value their Sundays (unless freelance or under a deadline of course, however i’ve met very few that don’t indulge this day). And they don’t feel guilty for taking time off. Rather, they embrace it and go in.
And by go in, i mean, they don’t hold back on creating comfortable conditions. In fact, there’s even an adjective they use to describe it - “koselig” (pronounced “koo-seh-lee” in Stavanger dialect) which is a very important word in the Norwegian vocabulary.
Essentially, it translates to “cosy” but i think it really describes a way of being - a kind of nesting. Getting snug. Finding the sweet spots. Feeling nice. It’s all in the details.
It’s appreciating the opportunity for soft edges and having your feet up wrapped in a blanket whilst nibbling some treats as you watch a film.
It’s lighting candles in the room just because it looks pretty and creates a warm intimate atmosphere.
It’s being around people who make you feel good.
Or being alone but happy with it. Perhaps entwined with a great book.
And i appreciate that very much. Especially when arriving back to the UK on a Sunday where things around me felt like any other working day. I even caught myself getting tangled up in it.
⚡️The feeling of being behind.
⚡️The needing to hit the ground running even though i was really tired.
⚡️The faux rest, in bed with laptop between “resting” and “working” but not fully committed to either.
I don’t know.
Perhaps it’s my bad habits, of the people that i happen to be around. But i really feel that in the UK there is a strong and sometimes unhelpful culture of needing to be busy, and a lot of shame that is carried on our backs if we dare to say that we are taking time off. -Or god forbid, choosing to do nothing at all.
Which is really weird when you think about it.
Because we all know, we cannot be “on” all the time and that daydreaming can be transformational for our work yet somehow, i for one forget that stuff pretty quickly.
I get caught up in the guilt for taking time to chill, or worry that i’m letting someone else down, or not doing enough ---- which may i add, is not a great place to inhabit because we really are enough.
So. Moral of the story: Take some inspiration from many (not all but many) Norwegians.
Embrace a koselig break and practice the art of chill. Give yourself time off. Guilt free.
Of course, i’m not saying Norwegians don’t get stressed, or exhausted or don’t have guilt when taking time off or whatever, but i do think there is value in the practice of prioritising time to decompress from the week.
It doesn’t have to be a Sunday, and it might not even be possible to take a whole day, but investing time to slow down and unwind guilt free can only be good for us, and studies show that we will return more refreshed and focussed with even more energy to get more done, better brain power and more positive results!
🔸What say ye? Are you a pro at the art of deep chill? Or do you struggle with it? I’d love to know your thoughts, tips, resistance, all of it!🔸
Oh for those that do struggle, or who need a little inspo for applying some chill to real life, read on for some practical suggestions!
Some practical tips to apply to real life:::::
- Video: calming breathwork practice
- Why i take self care so seriously
- In case you missed it: my AUTUMN course Take Care of You (password is "autumn")
- Protect yourself with a good vibe cocoon
In light of being chill
- Zen dog
- Things to watch! (take your pic depending on your mood). Scary film list // films for self care
- Whilst the horror of the world continues, i’ve been taking inspo from twitter friends - threads of feel good. Here’s one such example: Positive vibes to balance out the awful
- Earnest jamming from Blue reminding me to stay jubilant (slight swear word here
- This Little Richard interview (and outfit!) never fails to inspire
- Solange for the Tate Modern
- Brief but spectacular life wisdom