03 Mar From siestas to saunas: the 10 European wellbeing traditions everyone should try
Happiness and wellbeing mean different things to different people.
And happiness and wellbeing are practised in different ways by different people in different parts of the world.
Why not spice up your attempts to create more happiness and wellbeing by learning from some of the great European traditions? Read on…
Via the Guardian by Elle Hunt
hink of “wellness” and you may well think of Gwyneth Paltrow’s brand, Goop: modern, exclusive, quite possibly rubbish. But a lot of what would fall under that banner dates back centuries and has its roots in Europe, not California.
“There is a unique wellness culture in Europe,” says Beth McGroarty, the director of research at the Global Wellness Institute, a US nonprofit group. It dates as far back as Roman spas and the ancient Greek focus on preventing sickness, not merely treating it. “Europe has its own ancient medical thinking and wellness traditions and we don’t seem to pay any attention to them.”
The continent is also home to some of the happiest, healthiest countries in the world, although the UK doesn’t trouble the top 10. So, what can we learn from European wellness practices and traditions?
Spain: the siesta
The siesta, a short afternoon nap, is believed to have evolved in Spain to allow farmers time to rest during the hottest hours of the day. The tradition persists in the country, with work hours extending later to accommodate the break.
A large study in 2007 found that heart diseases were less prevalent among people who regularly took a 30-minute nap, while research in 2010 discovered that an afternoon snooze could improve the brain’s ability to learn.
“Even just slowing down for a short period of time allows you to disconnect from the world and subsequently boost energy, focus and creativity,” says Paul Joseph, the founder of the travel company.
Iceland consistently ranks highly in metrics such as life expectancy and blood pressure, placing third in Bloomberg’s 2019 healthiest country index, behind Spain and Italy.
The Nordic diet shares some similarities with the life-extending Mediterranean diet, although it is lower in fruit and vegetables, advocating moderate consumption of fat and protein along with canola oil (a type of rapeseed oil), wild berries and root vegetables.
A diet high in fresh fish, and therefore omega-3 fatty acids, is considered key to a healthy diet in Iceland. Haddock, herring and cod – including the cheeks and tongues, the most prized parts – are all dietary staples. Fermented shark is a national dish.
It is also common for Icelanders to take a daily supplement of cod-liver oil during the winter months, when it is difficult to get enough vitamin D from sunlight alone. The benefits of fish oil and omega-3 are contested, but their proponents say they relieve joint stiffness associated with arthritis and improve the condition of teeth, nails, hair and skin.
Although the use of mud as a beauty treatment was documented in ancient Egypt, with clay from the banks of the Nile being applied to the face and skin to improve appearance and texture, it was popularised in Italy during Roman times – “fango” is Italian for “mud”.
From there, fangotherapy spread with the Roman empire; mud treatments and wraps remain a common spa treatment across Europe and further afield.
While different types of mud (mixed with mineral or thermal water) are said to have different properties, fangotherapy is most effective as a gentle cleansing treatment and has relaxing, anti-stress effects. These should not be sniffed at: chronic stress affects the immune system and causes high blood pressure, fatigue, poor mental health and even heart disease…
… keep reading the full & original article HERE