Written by Amy Beecham
Take some time for yourself this autumn and adopt the Swedish practice of ‘fika’. Here’s how.
The days are getting longer, colder, and you have a million-and-one things on your mind. Politics feels like a TV show, the cost of living crisis just keeps getting worse, and that’s without mentioning the ever-creeping burnout and mental stress so many of us are dealing with.
So, what better way to take a break from the stresses and strains of everyday life than by embracing ‘fika’. For the uninitiated, fika is commonly (and loosely) translated to the art of coffee, cake and catching up– but the Swedes stress that it is so much more than that.
More of a social phenomena, it’s a much-needed chance for peopleto meet and hang out with friends, get to know new people, check out potential partners or network with business folks, all while enjoying tasty snacks.
Fika is so important to the Swedish psyche is the custom that some companies add a clause to contracts stating that employees are entitled to fika breaks. IKEA even states on its website: “More than a coffee break, fika is a time to share, connect and relax with colleagues. Some of the best ideas and decisions happen at fika.”
It’s really no surprise that once again, we’re looking to the Scandinavian nations for inspiration on how to step away from the chaos of life and enjoy the simpler things. There is an innate sense of calm and resilience (sisu, anyone?) in that part of the world that we could all learn a thing or two from.
What are the origins of fika?
According to Visit Sweden, fika has a pretty humble beginning in the 18th century. The word itself is believed to be a reversal of the syllables in the word kaffi, the old spelling of coffee. However in later years, around the 19th century, the accompanying baked treats – often called fikabröd (fika bread) – became just as important, along with the social aspect of the custom.
Nowadays, fika is commonly enjoyed casually at work with colleagues or during more elaborate outings with friends at the weekend.As the tourist board itself states: “‘Let’s do fika,’ is one of the most uplifting messages you can receive from a long-lost friend.”
How can I adopt fika in my own life?
Thankfully, very easily. Simply take two 10 – 30 minutes breaks throughout your day away from your desk to reconnect to yourself and others.
As for your fika table, a cup of coffee is deemed essential (but really, any other drink you enjoy is just as fine.)
According to Hej Sweden, most people also combine their break with some pastry, called fikabröd. Among the most popular are kanelbullar (cinnamon buns), chokladbollar (chocolate balls) and biscuits. And then, you’re all set for some much-needed downtime.
Let’s do fika, shall we?
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