Can short coffee breaks spell the difference between loving and hating work? In Sweden, where workers are among the least stressed worldwide, the secret to happiness is a four letter word: fika.
The word “fika” is used as both a noun and a verb, and is derived from the Swedish word for coffee (kaffe), a national obsession for the world’s third-largest coffee drinking nation. Unlike the American-style caffeine jolt, the Swedish coffee break is a moment to literally leave work behind. Taken first around 10am and then at 3pm, it’s not a strategy for multi-tasking, or for fitting in another mini-meeting; it’s a chance to relax in the company of colleagues. The longstanding Swedish social ritual doesn’t necessarily even have to involve coffee—the key is to pause your day.
“It is the moment that you take a break, often with a cup of coffee, but alternatively with tea, and find a baked good to pair with it.” explains who co-wrote the book Fika: The Art of The Swedish Coffee Break(2015). “In our own [US] culture, where coffee has come to be more about grabbing a 16-ounce-grande-whatever, in a paper cup to go, coffee is more about fueling up and going fast. In Sweden, coffee is something to look forward to, a moment where everything else stops and you savor the moment,” she writes onApartment Therapy. “In today’s modern world we crave a little bit of that; we want an excuse to slow down.”
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