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The Scandinavian secrets to a stress-free work life


As a nation, it is hard for us to switch off. Thanks to mobile phones that are constantly somewhere on our person, demanding our attention for even the most unimportant notifications for fear it may be an email that needs our immediate attention. The impact of this inability to turn off is beginning to show in a big way; in 2018, the Mental Health Foundation released statistics that stated 74% of adults in the UK had felt so stressed during the last year that they found themselves unable to cope. 32% of adults said they had suicidal feelings as a result of this stress.

So, how to deal with this stress? Perhaps we should turn to our Scandinavian friends, who have some considerably more cheerful statistics to boast, such as their repeatedly high ranking among the happiest places in the world. Understandably, they are often praised for their simple lifestyles, that include a healthy work-life balance, and concepts focused on happiness that are central to their culture.

Yet when considering the terms that are so central to Scandinavian culture, it’s no surprise that they are such cheerful chaps. Perhaps most well-known is ‘hygge’ the concept of taking a break and enjoying your immediate surroundings. Delightful, yes, but perhaps not the most conducive to a motivated work life.

Other concepts, however, could go a long way if we were to apply them to our working lives. For example,’lykke’ in simple terms means ‘happiness’ and is a popular term in lifestyle marketing. However, on a deeper level, ‘lykke’ is the happiness that is achieved by having direction in your life, and a sense of control over it. The Swedish term ‘lagom’ means ‘everything in moderation’, and is key to the Scandinavian’s knack at maintaining the perfect work-life balance; they may be famed for leaving the office at 5pm on the dot every evening so they can enjoy their evenings, but they do work jolly hard too, with the results to prove it.

Finland have a slightly more emboldening concept; ‘sisu’, a sustained perseverance throughout all of the challenges presented in life. In the UK, it is arguable that ‘sisu’ is a concept already integral to our work habits, yet we do not have the balance of other concepts such as ‘lagom’, or ‘lykke’. While determination and perseverance are of course essential to progression in our chosen career paths, perhaps we need to apply some moderation, so as to alleviate stress and maybe even produce better work as a result. The 5 o’clock Friday pint has been proven to do a lot of good!

At ABPM, our team of experts has over 50 years collective experience in finding the right fit for you, whether you are a client or candidate, and are on hand to guide you on your career path, in the most stress-free way possible!

Rej Abraham, Managing Director