Lola Åkerström, author of LAGOM: The Swedish Secret of Living Well, explores how we can reduce stress in our lives with a lagom mindset.



The newest Scandinavian trend to hit the global waves is the Swedish ethos of “Lagom”. It is often described as “not too much, not too little, just right” but lagom is a lot more complex than that simple definition.

At its core, Lagom aims to reduce stress in our lives.

Some cultures prioritize fighting stress first so they can be productive. Other cultures fight through stress while trying to be productive. Some cultures “accumulate” to camouflage the stress. Other cultures “reduce” to relieve the stress.

The lagom mindset naturally doesn’t like stress and it does its best to reduce stress first. For example, getting rid of things (less is more), work-life (balance), relationships (trust) or situations (harmony in society) that bring unnecessary stress.

Having too much or too little causes stress, so lagom tries to find its balance between both.

So, here are some tips on how to reduce stress the lagom way when it comes to your wellbeing, your choices, and how you socialize with others.

Health and wellbeing

  • Constant connectivity impedes on our ability to live a more balanced life, so maybe it’s time to schedule a digital detox?
  • Learn to say no more often. We often get pulled into unnecessary tasks that waste our valuable time. By constantly taking a step back to assess a request before responding with a resounding ‘yes’, we can begin to weed out irrelevant work.
  • Create measurable goals that you can logically stick to. Why sign up for a marathon if you haven’t been running regularly, when you can start with a 1km jog around your neighbourhood?
  • Be compassionate with yourself. It’s okay to fail but it’s important to get back up and start over again when you’re ready. And only you know when you’re ready.

Beauty and fashion

  • Sounds like it’s time to simplify some of our beauty routines. Maybe institute ‘no makeup’ days to give our skin a break.
  • Take time to clean out your closet. Do you really need five similar looking black lace dresses or white shirts? If you haven’t worn an item in at least twelve months, maybe it’s time to sell or donate it.
  • Indecision and stress often stems from the fact that we have too many choices. Maybe reducing our choices when it comes to clothing and beauty products can assuage some of that indecision.

Social life and play

  • We need to do what we say and mean what we do. This can be accomplished by not over-promising and creating logical parameters around what we can and can’t do. We can let our actions speak for themselves.
  • If we’ve had a problem with people not trusting us, it’s never too late to start picking up the pieces. Not by telling them what we think they want to hear, but rather, by being direct. An honest ‘Sorry, I can’t’ is always better than a failed promise.
  • Keeping bragging to a minimum can infuse the element of surprise into our relationships. Why not pleasantly surprise that new acquaintance by not showing all your cards at once? Admiration is often built up this way – the seductive art of measured revelation.

Lagom: The Swedish Secret of Living Well by Lola A. Åkerström is published by Headline Home, £10 (