The quest to be happy and healthy may be a universal concept, but the path to getting there can be quite different depending on where you hang your hat. Whether it’s laughing your way to health in India or power napping in Japan, people from different cultures have very different ideas about how to find wellness. Try one of these for yourself next time you need a pick-me-up!
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Happiness And Wellness Practices Around The World
Take a quick peek at the infographic by Shari’s Berries on 12 happiness and wellness practices around the world, or dive a little deeper into the practices by reading below.
1. India: Laughter Yoga
Started in 1995 by a medical doctor in Mumbai, Laughter Yoga has now spread to thousands of “Laughter Clubs” all around the world, where adults gather to do breathing exercises and force themselves to chuckle - and they are happier and healthier because of it. Why? Well, laughing releases endorphins to improve your mood. It lowers your blood pressure, helps reduce stress, and, if you’ve ever had sore abs after something really funny happened, then you know a good belly-laugh can also be aerobic exercise.
How to practice: Make laughter a part of your day, every day. Look for Laughter Yoga clubs in your area. Stand in front of a mirror each morning and just make yourself laugh! Watch funny movies, go to a comedy club, and incorporate humor into your life.
2. Japan: Shinrin Yoku
Developed in Japan during the 1980s, Shinrin Yoku, otherwise known as “forest bathing,” is a method of basking in the sights and sounds of the great outdoors to promote well-being. The premise is simple - just take a leisurely walk in nature and enjoy its calming, rejuvenating and restorative benefits.
How to practice: Make it a point to get yourself outdoors every week. Leave your electronics behind and go wander in the woods, taking time to really notice the nature - it’s sights, sounds, and smells.
3. Egypt: Cupping Therapy
Cupping is an ancient therapy that uses suction on the skin to increase blood flow and promote healing. Originally, practitioners used hollowed-out animal horns for cupping but, fortunately, in modern practice the horns have been replaced by glass cups. Cupping is said to relieve muscle tension, improve circulation, and reduce inflammation. Be warned, though, it leaves behind tell-tale bruises. Remember when Michael Phelps’ purple circles made headlines during the 2016 Olympics? Yep, those were from cupping.
How to practice: Locate a cupping facility in your area and book an appointment. The best cupping practitioners are also acupuncturists, so start your search there.
4. China: Acupuncture
Acupuncture has been practiced in China for at least 2,500 years. It involves inserting very thin needles into the skin in strategic areas of your body. Traditional Chinese medicine describes acupuncture as a way to balance the flow of energy in your body. Western medicine, though, views it as a way to stimulate nerves and reduce pain.
How to practice: Acupuncture should only be done by a trained specialist. Search for a certified acupuncturist in your area. The treatment might even be covered by your insurance!
5. Russia: Banya or Sauna
Banya, a Russian type of sauna or steam bath, is a centuries-old tradition that’s still widely practiced today. The banya is said to eliminate toxins in the body, boost metabolism, improve circulation, and promote relaxation. It’s also a place for bringing friends together.
How to practice: Plan a spa day with friends. Visit your local sauna and leave feeling refreshed and relaxed.
6. Norway: Friluftsliv
Friluftsliv loosely translates to “free air life” and it’s a Norwegian philosophy that suggests we should explore and appreciate nature as a way to promote health and well-being.
How to practice: Get up and get outside. Take a rugged hike in the mountains or a lazy stroll around the park - and bring some buddies with you!
7. Japan: Inemuri or Power Naps
In most places, sleeping on the job will get you in trouble. In Japan, however, it’s considered the sign of a hard worker - and some bosses encourage it! Inemuri literally means “sleeping while present” and is a widely accepted practice in Japanese culture. People do it anywhere - at work, at dinner, and on the subway - and they are respected for working so hard that they had to stop and rest.
How to practice: Take a few moments out of your day to rest your eyes and recharge your body’s batteries. If you choose to do this in public, be courteous of the people around you.
8. Iceland: Hot Springs
Iceland is a hotbed of geothermal activity, with hot springs at the top of everybody’s must-do list. But what’s so hot about hot springs, anyway? They have an especially high mineral content that, when combined with the warm temperature of the water, are great for skin, inflammation, circulation, and relaxation.
How to practice: Visit a natural spring in your neck of the woods. If you don’t have one nearby, opt for a soak in the tub, taking time to relax and soothe your skin.
9. South America: Mate Tea
Millions of people start their days with a hot cup of coffee. But in many parts of South America, people wake up with yerba mate tea. It’s a lot like coffee in that it’s caffeinated, but it has a long list of health benefits. It promotes heart health, boosts energy and focus, encourages weight loss, protects against diabetes, and is really good for your liver!
How to practice: Try replacing your morning cup o’ joe with a cup of yerba mate tea instead.
10. Tibet: Tibetan Singing Bowls
Tibetan singing bowls have been used for centuries for healing and meditation through sound. The tones created with singing bowls are said to promote healing from pain and depression and reduce stress and disease. They work by training your brain waves to synchronize with the sounds of the bowl, bringing you harmony.
How to practice: Tibetan singing bowls are just one of many types of sound therapy. Check out binaural beats and entrainment, for more modern examples. Or, just listen to music that makes you feel good.
11. Sweden: Fika
Fika is literally a coffee break in Sweden, but it’s so much more than that. It’s taking moment to slow down. It’s all about taking the time to take a break, have some coffee and a pastry, and appreciate life.
How to practice: Commit to taking a few minutes out of your day to sit and sip a cup of coffee and enjoy a sweet treat. Whether you choose to be alone or with friends, it’s most important that you stop and savor the moment.
12. Nigeria: Ubuntu
Ubuntu is a philosophy that embodies the idea that we are all connected, that we are the way we are because of each other, and what makes us human is the humanity we show each other. It highlights sharing, kindness, respect, and compassion, and values community over individuals.
How to practice: Think about how you interact with the people around you. Embrace togetherness and community. Practice compassion every day.
Infographic source: Shari's Berries
While some of these methods may be a bit unorthodox, people around the world have no shortage of methods to get happy and feel great. Next time you need a little change in your routine, consider trying one of these 12 wellness practices from cultures around the world.