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Embrace some Danish wellbeing to see you through the Christmas chaos

As the festive season ramps up to fever pitch and we’re all frantically trying to organise our family, holiday, work and home, there doesn’t seem to be much time left to do anything much else apart from sleep.

But it’s exactly at this point when the stresses and pressures of life are at their highest, that the Danes focus on finding moments of ‘hygge’ (pronounced hoo-gah) to ensure that they enjoy some calm comfort amidst the tumult.

A sense of wellbeing

Hygge: wellbeing, comfort, cosiness and enjoying the simple pleasures in life.

The exact meaning of hygge is almost impossible to determine, but is generally described as wellbeing, comfort, cosiness and enjoying the simple pleasures in life. Enjoying a hygge moment could be indulging in a quiet night in with hot chocolate and a good book, but it could equally be enjoying a cycle ride outside in the fresh air. Although the activities are seemingly unconnected, they both feed into a holistic sense of wellbeing – nourishing the mind and body with goodness.

Work life balance

This idea of general wellness also has a solid focus on maintaining a strong work life balance which sees the majority of Danes starting work at 8am and finishing at 4pm, Monday to Friday. The Danes begin and end their working day early to make the most of the daylight hours, especially in winter, and simply don’t stay late after work, placing great value on time spent at home with their family at the end of the day. The OECD Better Life Index states that ‘only 2% of employees work very long hours’ which is significantly less than the OECD average of 13%.

Work related stress

This work ethic is the accepted norm in Denmark and goes some way to avoiding underlying expectations to work longer than contracted hours to ‘get the job done’ which are more prevalent in the UK. It’s clear to see the correlation between a poor work life balance and increased stress levels, and this is highlighted in our recent Why BWell survey with 25% of UK respondents saying that they struggle to manage workplace pressure. Alongside this a third of people surveyed said that they believe their job has a negative impact on their mental health, and 20% admit they don’t get regular exercise.

Clock off and check out

There’s definitely something to be said for making some time for a hygge moment or two in the face of such statistics, and to help with navigating the most overwrought time of the year. Perhaps adopting a strict rule of clocking off on time most evenings to ensure you make it home to eat dinner with your family, or being mindful about creating joy in life’s everyday moments will be just enough to help you keep your ‘balance’ right through to the New Year.

Why BWell? If you’re interested in reading more about the current state of workplace wellbeing in the UK, you can download a copy HERE. 

Work-life balance: achieving the happy medium

If you frequently surface from looking deep into the eyes of your work laptop to find that 6pm silently slid past more than an hour ago, or if the first thing you think about when you wake up is the email you sent late the night before, it is likely that your work-life balance is looking rather unhealthy.

Research by the Mental Health Foundation has found that more than 40% of employees neglect other aspects of their life because of work, and nearly two thirds have experienced a negative effect on their personal life including mental health problems, physical health issues, relationship and home life problems as well as a general lack of personal development.

There are measures that we can all put in place to try and refocus on working to live, rather than living to work, but with self-discipline and taking a firm stance top of the agenda, be prepared to toughen up!

40% of employees neglect other aspects of their life because of work.

Speak up

If your workload is unreasonable, and increasing demands are resulting in more overtime than home-time then you will need to find a way to tell your employer. If they aren’t aware that work expectations are too much, then they can’t help you.

Protect yourself

Work-related stress can result in mental health issues, so make sure you have measures in place to combat it. Make time for your hobby, exercise and social life to help ease the pressures of the working day and don’t cancel because you ‘need’ to stay late at work!

Shut off

Easy to say but often difficult to do. As you leave the office (on time!) make sure you mentally acknowledge that you have ‘left the building’ so you have effective closure at the end of the working day. Don’t look at your work emails after your official ‘home time’ and if you absolutely MUST take work home, then confine working to only one area of the house so that you can close the door on it when you’re done.

Time out

Eating at your desk might seem like the ideal way to be more productive, but it’s actually better for you to take a proper break away from your desk. Taking a walk will also raise those endorphins and help raise your productivity for the afternoon.

Work smart

Not hard. You’ll need to be very self-disciplined with your workload and prioritise effectively, but efficiency means you should be able to finish on time . . .