Recently Annabel and Hatty presented for the City of Helsinki on Well-Being in summer in Finland (on 15.6.23 at Oodi library) and spoke about how to stay rested, connected and functional during the summer months. Since Midsummer (Juhannus) is just around the corner, it is worth revisiting this list to remember how to take care of ourselves during this time.
Finnish summer can be frustrating because of the extreme amounts of sunlight, although the summers are not always very warm (sometimes a maximum of 23 degrees all year).
Managing your energy levels in summer can be very different to winter due to the light. The amount of light is extremely different in summer and winter. After the long winter nights, the sunshine comes and it seems it never goes away. It never gets properly dark in summer and it can affect your sleep and regular routines.
•Summer can bring feelings of energy due to the bright sunlight. Excessive energy can turn in to manic symptoms (happy mood for no reason, hyperactive, not sleeping). Keeping a regular schedule and sleeping enough is important to avoid this, and the low mood that follows manic symptoms
Manage sleep by following basic sleep hygiene:
•Keep your bedroom as dark and cool as possible (invest in blackout curtains if necessary)
•Go to bed the same time each night and not too early
•Get up if you can’t sleep and try again later
•Don’t watch TV or use computer in bed
Manage energy by following these tips in summer
•Have naps to rest during the holiday if you have had late nights and early mornings (but we aware this will impact your sleeping time later!).
•Allow kids to nap too!
•Make sure you rest and recover during summer. Spend time indoors resting if everyone is tired, or set up hammocks or places to rest outside.
Keeping your social life active is a challenge too – Finns book their summer weekends out before spring has even started, so summer can sometimes be more lonely compared to during normal working months. Schools and many services close down from June until the second week of August.
PERMA: Well-Being Model for Finnish Summer
We also presented on a model of well-being in summer based on the PERMA model of well- being: Positive emotions, Engagement, positive Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment.
POSITIVE EMOTIONS: Enjoy life!
•Do simple things to feel positive: cold drinks, resting in a hammock listening to the birds, swimming in a lake, going for a sauna, food with friends.
ENGAGEMENT: Feelings of flow and engagement in activity
•Summer activities with the community (local bonfire; Seurasaari bonfire)
•Swimming in lakes or the sea
Positive RELATIONSHIPS: Make sure you are connecting with others. Plan ahead in summer – Finns book every weekend 4 months ahead of time in summer, so ask them now about plans later in the season!
Try to get yourself invited to a mökki. Or, hire a mökki with friends to create the experience yourself.
All regular activities are closed until August, including many swimming pools/ libraries. So use the time to travel and explore further afield.
Midsummer and the mökki/ summer cottage culture has meaning for Finns that you might not share or understand.
The more you join in, the more meaning it will create for you, but this could take years.
Remember why you are in Finland and what meaning Finland has for you. Maybe this is just an experience for a couple of years.
What might you take home with you?
Learning new skills and feeling competent
•Setting goals (according to Finnish culture and environment)
•Learn about the different berries, mushrooms that you can pick in the forests.
•Learn Midsummer traditions!