"Fika? What's that?" I hear you ask. Well, its a Scandinavian thing - like saunas, cinnamon pastries and IKEA - and it's amazing! I have to confess, as I've done before, I LOVE all things Scandi. And fika is something I believe we should all adopt, along with hygge, lagom and cycling - but I am biased. But honestly, when you understand the purpose of this daily ritual, you will see how it could make all the difference to your work and life.
The definition of fika is (in Swedish custom) a break from activity during which people drink coffee, eat cakes or other light snacks, and relax with others. Now, what's not to love! It's actually a social institution in Sweden, and I love the attitude and purpose behind it. First, there's coffee and cake, but at its heart it is about taking time out from your daily work, relaxing and being with people. So, I've taken this idea one step further and written seven benefits - one for each day of the week - as to why you need to take regular breaks, meet up with friends, have your cake and eat it!
Fika #1 - It feels good
Taking breaks throughout your day, whether at work or home, has been shown to reduce stress and improve your mood. Not only that, having planned breaks gives you something to look forward to, so can actually prevent the build up of stress in the first place.
Fika #2 - You can down tools
By breaking up your day and the tasks you are working on, you become more productive and creative. You are able to stop, regroup and gain focus. Even if you are in a state of flow, where time is irrelevant and you are fully absorbed, stopping to refresh yourself and your mind is beneficial to the task.
Fika #3 - Time out is important
Removing yourself from a situation or activity, even for a few moments, enables you to gather your thoughts and see things from a different perspective. If you share your break with a friend, this can also be a welcome distraction and allow you to reflect.
Fika #4 - Time together is even more important
Sharing your break with someone or in a group is essential to the ritual of fika. It is in gathering with others where we reap the most benefits - the shared experience, the belonging, the giving of ourselves and receiving from others.
Fika #5 - It all adds up
Regular, shorter breaks throughout your day add up - they compound - and the result is far greater than one large break. Smaller breaks may not give you time for a lengthy chat or to savour your coffee, but you can still step outside, stretch, move around and give yourself a mental rest from your tasks.
Fika #6 - Celebrate clocking off
In addition to smaller daily breaks, once a week, treat yourself to a longer break - this could even be after work. Arrange to meet with friends, maybe away from your workplace or out of the house. Take it in turns to decide on a venue and make plans for this change of pace. It's a great way to end the week or celebrate 'hump day' aka Wednesday.
Fika #7 - It's all about balance
Traditionally fika is taken with very strong coffee and sweet cake or pastry. Now this may or may not be good for you - I will let you decide, but, I believe in balance, and if it's part of a weekly treat, then I'll have an iced coffee and cinnamon swirl please!
So, if you're heading back into the office or continuing to work from home, climbing the career ladder or a stay at home parent, starting out or slowing down; taking regular time out with friends is one of the ways to reduce stress, be more productive and lighten the load of your week. Please share this with someone who you know may enjoy it, better still invite them out for a coffee!
I help people to reduce stress and overwhelm by planning their downtime, finding practical ideas on how to manage their days and creating balance in their lives and work. If you need support in these areas, please get in touch, I'd love to chat more with you. You can use the contact page on my website, email me via email@example.com or visit my socials @iamsarahalexcarter