By Kristine Cannon
What does a coffee break look like for you? For most of us, it’s rushing out the door, punching in our usual Starbucks order on the app. Then, en route to work, quickly grabbing the drink at the store, and, boom, we’re on our way.
But what if we told you we’ve been doing coffee all wrong? That it isn’t meant as a way to fuel your day and make you work faster, but as a way to stop everything you’re doing and take a break. And what if we told you, by doing this, it can vastly improve your well-being?
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It’s called fika — meaning “coffee” — and we have the Swedes to thank for it.
Originating from Sweden, fika is a daily ritual where one gathers with family, friends or coworkers for a coffee and pastry break. For 15 to 45 minutes a day, it’s a chance to pause, slow down and take a moment to appreciate the best people and things in your life. You don’t have to be a in a group setting, either, or even at a coffee shop. You can enjoy fika completely on your own and anywhere you’d like.
“In Sweden, coffee is something to look forward to, a moment where everything else stops and you savor the moment,” says Anna Brones, author of Fika: The Art of The Swedish Coffee Break. “In today’s modern world, we crave a little bit of that; we want an excuse to slow down.”
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Fika is an important part of Swedish culture, and Swedes will often take two fika breaks a day, even at work. In fact, for many companies, this coffee break is mandatory and take place in the morning (around 10 a.m.) and in the afternoon (around 3 p.m.). Fika in the workplace allows colleagues a chance to relax and destress.
And clearly this works. A study in 2010 found that Swedish workers were the least stressed worldwide.
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In addition to alleviating stress, fika breaks were found to boost productivity. “Studies show that people who take a break from their work do not do less. It’s actually the opposite; efficiency at work can benefit from these kinds of get-togethers,” writes Linkoping University professor Viveka Adelsward, who studied the history of Swedish social rituals.
It’s also believed fika refreshes the brain, strengthens relationships and can boost creativity. A study conducted by United Minds showed employees were more inspired during fika, where the environment is much more relaxed, and they generated more new ideas than in a traditional meeting environment. And, psychological professor Alex Pentland found that staff productivity increased by 10 to 15 percent when workplaces scheduled regular coffee breaks.
So, are you ready to get inspired and take a real break from your day? Then give fika a try. We’re on our way to grab a coffee and pastry as we speak.