Swedish Fika: It’s More Than Just A Coffee Break
A few weeks ago, I came across the Swedish word “Fika”. It sounded silly but when I read about it some more, I realized that this Swedish tradition is quite brilliant. Fika is more of a concept than a word. The literal meaning of this word means “to slow down”, “take a break”, or “making time for friends”. Fika can be interpreted as many things, concepts, ideas but the overall meaning remains the same.
Sweden is one of the top 100 happiest countries in the world along with Denmark and Finland. If you know about the various self-care practices around the world, then you must be familiar with the Danish self-care practice “Hygge” (pronounced hoo-gah). Hygge is a state of mind, a concept, that means ‘coziness’ or ‘comfort’. Fika, its Swedish counterpart, is a concept that translates to “having an afternoon coffee break”.
While hygge is usually practiced in the comfort of your home, Fika is practiced in a social setting. However, Fika isn’t your typical coffee break where you run to the local Starbucks for a quick go-to cup. The practice of Fika involves joining friends, family, or colleagues for a mindful coffee break. During this break, you are essentially required to “clock out” and engage in social interactions with others.
What Is Fika?
“Fika” is a big part of the Swedish culture and the Swedes take this practice very seriously but Fika is more than just a coffee break. It is a phenomenon, a tradition that allows people to take a pause, slow down, and hang out with friends, family, and colleagues without the distraction of phones or emails.
Fika originated from the 19th-century word kaffi (coffee).
Fika does not mean sitting on a desk by yourself drinking coffee and eating a cake/pastry. It is more or less a ritual that requires you to stop and socialize with others. This practice can help refresh your mind, slow you down, and strengthen your relationship with others. Taking a “Fika” can also help boost productivity and job performance.
How Can ‘Fika’ Help?
Adopting Fika into our daily lives can help us:
1. Create A Social Network
When you step out for a cup of coffee and a pastry, you meet other people. Taking a Fika break every day can help you create a social network whether you are in a professional setting or a social setting. Fika might look like you simply drinking a coffee with your friends or colleagues but it’s more than that.
It is an opportunity to slow down and get to know your colleagues and friends better. It is a chance to nurture and strengthen your social relationships, hence improving your social wellness.
2. Become Physically Active
Like I said before, Fika requires you to step away from your desk and slow down. When you go get a cup of coffee, your engaging in physical activity, right? You’re walking from one corner of the office to another or stepping outside to visit a cafe. When you’re taking a break, pop into your local cafe, or take a walk around the block to help clear your mind.
Taking a few minutes to walk away from your desk can help you calm your nerves, slow down, and revisit your tasks with a clear mindset.
3. Unplug For A While
Fika has a rule; no-distractions while on Fika. When you leave for a coffee break, it is encouraged that you leave your electronic devices behind. Just for a few minutes, focus on the present moment and forget about your emails and texts. Emails can wait but a Fika break can’t.
Fika only works when you’re mindful of the break you’re taking. No distractions, no calls, and no emails during the break. That’s the rule.
4. Increase Productivity
When you take a break that encourages you to leave distractions behind, you are allowing yourself to be present at the moment and just be. A break can be good for you and your soul. Taking a break from work every afternoon can help maintain mental strength and emotional vigor.
When you’re relaxed and in the moment, you’re letting your creativity flow – potentially improving your productivity. A Fika break can help you improve your decision-making skills as well.
How To Have A ‘Fika’?
Here’s how you can have a Fika too:
A. Sip your favorite drink. It doesn’t have to be coffee; many people are sensitive to caffeine, so in that case, any of your favorite, non-alcoholic drinks can work.
B. Eat a snack. Swedes prefer cinnamon buns or cookies but you can eat whatever you like. The point is to have a treat with your drink.
C. Bring company. Fika plays an important role in strengthening your relationship with your colleagues or peers but if you don’t feel comfortable in the company of others, you can sit by yourself and enjoy some ‘me time’
D. Turn your phone off. Fika is about spending distraction-free time with self or others. When you’re taking a Fika break, it is recommended you turn off your phone or notifications for a mindful experience.
Take A Break!
Many people and companies globally have started to incorporate Fika into their daily routines. What’s wonderful about Fika is that it is not just about drinking a cup (or two) of coffee or eating a pastry, it is an experience that leaves you feeling refreshed, calm, and relaxed.
Our lives have become chaotic and it has taken a toll on our self-care routine and mental wellness. When it comes to taking a break, it is important to take some time for yourself and reflect on your health and wellbeing.
Fika is a way of life that inspires self-nurturing and mindfulness. It allows you to slow down and be in the present moment. It is a tradition, a cultural practice, that allows you to take a break and enjoy the little things around you.
“Do something nice for yourself today. Find some quiet, sit in stillness, breathe. Put your problems on pause. You deserve a break.” – Akiroq Brost