It’s no secret that college can be a stressful environment. Students often find schoolwork and our personal lives getting the best of us. This can lead to feeling anxious, stressed or even depressed. As a student, it’s critical to prioritize one’s mental health and overall well-being to thrive both academically and socially in college. But, how can we subdue our stressors?
The World Happiness Report (WHR) shows that Norway, Sweden and Finland have long been known to have the happiest citizens statistically. These countries share a simple philosophy that students and all people can incorporate into their daily lives. If we look at some of the happiest countries on the planet, what are they doing right? And, what can we learn from them?
Firstly, “sisu” a Finnish term that when translated, means “strength,” is a philosophy widely accepted in Finland. Katja Pantzar explores this concept in the book “The Finnish Way,” which guides readers on how to embrace persistence and grit in times of great need. We could all use sisu in our daily lives.
It’s important to note that some, if not most, of the happiest countries in the world have harsh seasons and cold temperatures. The cold temperatures are something that Syracuse residents and Syracuse University students can relate to. Citizens of these countries are no strangers to extreme conditions, seasonal depression or isolation, but regardless the citizens keep moving through hard times.
The idea of sisu is that life doesn’t require a lot to be happy. It is essential to be content with yourself and what you have. Oftentimes, long-lasting happiness doesn’t come from material gain.
The Nordic countries are also known for their cleanliness and natural beauty, a beautiful canvas. Most wouldn’t compare Syracuse to Copenhagen or Helsinki, but I think it’s an important lesson to realize the beauty within our inner circle.
This mentality can be applied to the city of Syracuse, SU’s campus or even your dorm room. It’s important to respect the collective space and its natural beauty because we don’t get another Earth. It might be organizing, picking up trash, drawing, painting, self-care, positive affirmations, etc. — anything to add beauty to your personal life.
Wellness days have also been a needed addition to the SU lifestyle. The human body needs rest from its physical and mental excursions. While it’s important to enact sisu and be persistent, it’s also necessary to take breaks. Don’t forget to take some time off. Places like Norway, Sweden and Finland have easy access to help, both physical and mental. Nordic countries often have more time to spend outside of the workplace. Something I believe SU could improve on is providing better and more readily available care to students and faculty that might need it.
A common Finnish ritual is to spend time in a free standing indoor sauna. Typically the indoor sauna can be used as a place of common ground for some much needed bonding after work, to enjoy a drink or to share stories. Oftentimes, you leave your social status, political beliefs and biases at the door, allowing you to make true connections and be more accepting of yourself and others.
As a community, it’s important to consider these suggestions to improve overall wellness. Whether it’s a Nordic country or SU’s campus, students should practice sisu while remembering to take breaks for mental and physical health. SU also needs to help us in the fight to help make our “canvas,” our campus, a more supportive one.
Aiden Walsh is a freshman finance major. His column appears biweekly. He can be reached at [email protected].
Published on February 8, 2022 at 12:20 am