Last year, Finland was named the Happiest Country in the World, for the second year in a row. It’s clear that Finland takes the wellbeing of its citizens very seriously.

That said, with a brand-new year ahead of us, perhaps it’s best to adopt a more Finnish approach to life. In fact, the best way to ensure that you have a productive and healthy 2020 is by incorporating some of Finland’s top wellness habits into your life.  After all, happiness has been linked to a number of health benefits.

According to various research, happiness has been linked to reduced stress levels, a stronger immune system, a healthier heart as well as a longer life expectancy.

With that said, here are 4 easy lessons that we can adopt from the Finnish in order to bring some happiness into our lives, and have an incredibly healthy and productive year.

4 Happiness and Wellness Hacks From Finland

1. Sauna time

According to statistics, Finland has a population of about 5 million, as well as an average of 2 million saunas in the country (1). With almost every household coming fully equipped with a sauna, letting off some steam is clearly a national pastime in Finland.

However, just because you don’t have a sauna in your house doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t visit your local spa to indulge in a sauna treatment of your own. In fact, Finnish research published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal found a strong association between sauna use and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

It’s not just heart health that saunas can help to protect. In fact, they can also offer the same protective properties for your brain. According to a Finnish study published in the journal Age and Ageing, individuals who used a sauna 2 to 3 times per week were 22% less likely to develop dementia and 20% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those who did not use a sauna.

2. Super berries

wild blueberry [longevity live]

Finland is home to small, blueberries known as bilberries (or European blueberries), and these small blue super bombs have been linked to a number of health benefits. It’s no wonder the Finnish are so happy all the time, especially with such a powerful superfood being part of their diets.

Bilberries contain large amounts of vitamins C and K, fiber, manganese, as well as the powerful flavonoid antioxidant, anthocyanins. This compound is responsible for giving fruits and vegetables their red, blue and purple hues. Additionally, it’s also been linked to the numerous health benefits that bilberries provide. In fact, bilberries have been linked to improving vision, heart health, as well as brain function (2,3,4).

If you are unable to get your hands on bilberries, there’s no need to worry. Simply purchase blueberries as their nutritional profile closely resembles that of bilberries.

3. Forest therapy

Over 70% of Finland’s land area is covered by forests, and as a result, the country holds a traditional legal concept called everyman’s right. This rule allows for the public to roam freely in natural areas that include forests, lakes as well as rivers, even if said areas fall on private lands (they don’t even have to obtain permission from landowners). So long as no damage or disturbance is caused to the landowners, the public are welcome to camp out overnight in a tent, vehicle, or boat anywhere they see fit.

However, in the case that you don’t happen to live next to Finland’s expansive forest, there’s no reason as to why you can’t spend at least 120 minutes of your day in nature. According to research published in the journal Nature, doing so will serve to improve both your physical and mental health.

4. Reading

According to research, Finland is one of the most literate countries in the world. With such a  strong emphasis on reading, it’s no wonder that so many of Finland’s inhabitants are content with their lives.

reading | Longevity LIVE

Curling up with a good book can provide one with the ultimate health boost. For one, reading provides mental stimulation which is an effective way of warding off both Alzheimer’s and dementia (5).

Additionally, research published in The Journal of Social Science and Medicine found that bookworms lived approximately 2 years longer than those who didn’t read. Perhaps your 2020 new year’s resolution should include adding more books to your reading list?

Want to know more?

Imagine if you could stay in a hotel that not only offers a perfect luxury island experience but also satisfies your need for wellness travel.  A healthier, more humanistic approach to hospitality. Well, this is what SALT of Palmar, a luxury resort in Mauritius, promises its guests. If you’re looking for a healthy getaway, then this would be the place to visit.

References

Bavishi, A., Slade, M. D., & Levy, B. R. (2016). A chapter a day: Association of book reading with longevity. Social science & medicine (1982)164, 44–48. https://doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.07.014

Friedland R.P, Fritsch T,  Smyth K.A, et al. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease have reduced activities in midlife compared with healthy control-group members. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Mar 2001, 98 (6) 3440-3445; https://DOI:10.1073/pnas.061002998

Kim, E. S., Smith, J., & Kubzansky, L. D. (2014). Prospective study of the association between dispositional optimism and incident heart failure. Circulation. Heart failure7(3), 394–400. https://doi:10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.113.000644

Laukkanen T, Khan H, Zaccardi F, Laukkanen JA. Association Between Sauna Bathing and Fatal Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality Events. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(4):542–548. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8187

Laukkanen T, Kunutsor S, Kauhanen J, et al, Sauna bathing is inversely associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in middle-aged Finnish men, Age and Ageing, Volume 46, Issue 2, March 2017, Pages 245–249, https://doi.org/10.1093/ageing/afw212

Lawrence, E. M., Rogers, R. G., & Wadsworth, T. (2015). Happiness and longevity in the United States. Social science & medicine (1982)145, 115–119. https://doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.09.020

Ozawa Y, Kawashima M, Inoue S, et al. Bilberry extract supplementation for preventing eye fatigue in video display terminal workersJ Nutr Health Aging. 2015 May;19(5):548-54. https://doi:10.1007/s12603-014-0573-6

Persson I, Persson K, & Andersson, R. (2009). Effect of Vaccinium myrtillus and Its Polyphenols on Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Activity in Human Endothelial Cells. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry. 57. 4626-9. https://doi:10.1021/jf900128s.

Steptoe, A., Wardle, J., & Marmot, M. (2005). Positive affect and health-related neuroendocrine, cardiovascular, and inflammatory processes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America102(18), 6508–6512. https://doi:10.1073/pnas.0409174102

White, M.P., Alcock, I., Grellier, J. et al. https://doi:10.1038/s41598-019-44097-3

Whyte, A. R., Cheng, N., Fromentin, E., & Williams, C. M. (2018). A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Study to Compare the Safety and Efficacy of Low Dose Enhanced Wild Blueberry Powder and Wild Blueberry Extract (ThinkBlue™) in Maintenance of Episodic and Working Memory in Older Adults. Nutrients10(6), 660. https://doi:10.3390/nu10060660

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba is a beauty and wellness writer, who has a passion for poetry, natural hair, and skin-care. With a journalism degree from Pearson's Institute of Higher Education, and identifiable by either her large afro or colorful locks, Pie aspires to continuously provide the latest information, be it beauty or wellness, on how one can adopt a healthy lifestyle on a day to day basis.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.