The Finnish matter


Finland is often cited as one of the world's happiest and healthiest countries, with several factors contributing to its high levels of well-being. I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to have lived in Finland for over 10 years.  This life opportunity has taught me a lot of lessons and widen my perspective on life well-being and Nordic culture. Here are some key aspects of Finland's impact on health and happiness:

Sauna Culture: Sauna is an integral part of Finnish culture, with nearly every household having access to a sauna. Regular sauna bathing is associated with numerous health benefits, including stress reduction, improved cardiovascular health, and enhanced relaxation and well-being.

Coffee Culture: Coffee culture is deeply woven into the fabric of Finnish society, serving as a social lubricant, a source of comfort, and a cherished tradition. Whether enjoyed at home, in the workplace, or in cafes, coffee plays a central role in daily life for many Finns, fostering connections, conversation, and community spirit.

Nature and Outdoor Lifestyle: Finland's abundant natural beauty, including forests, lakes, and coastline, promotes outdoor recreation and physical activity. Engaging in nature-based activities such as hiking, skiing, and berry picking is not only enjoyable but also beneficial for mental and physical health. Access to clean air, clean water, and green spaces contributes to a higher quality of life and lower levels of stress and pollution-related health issues.

Quality of Life: 
Finland consistently ranks high on global happiness and quality of life indexes, such as the World Happiness Report and the Human Development Index. Factors contributing to this high quality of life include a strong social welfare system, high levels of trust in government institutions, and a relatively low level of income inequality.
Education: Finland's education system is widely regarded as one of the best in the world. With a focus on equity, inclusivity, and individualized learning, Finnish schools prioritize student well-being and holistic development. This emphasis on education contributes to higher levels of literacy, critical thinking skills, and overall life satisfaction among the population.
Equitable Society: Finland is known for its commitment to social equality and inclusivity. Progressive social policies, such as gender equality initiatives, LGBTQ+ rights protections, and support for marginalized populations, contribute to a more equitable and fair society where all individuals have the opportunity to thrive.

Perhaps we all know something about the Moomins and I love seeing the simple things that they highlight and emphasise to learn from them: embrace nature, cherish moments with loved ones, create Joy in everyday activities, cultivate a positive and playful mindset, create a cosy space for yourself and reflect on life's meaning. These are very important pillars of a healthy well-being and look how they have already been incorporated into Finnish culture! How lovely.

I talk about the famous Moomins here Lessons learned - the Moomins, who play a crucial role within Finnish culture. 

I often wonder why Finns score as the happiest nation in the world, especially after having lived in Finland for over 10 years. I have so much experience I can share, so let's go step by step. 

Sauna Culture 

Sauna holds a special place in Finnish culture, and it is considered an essential part of daily life. Finns view sauna as a place for relaxation, rejuvenation, and socializing, and it is common for families and friends to gather in the sauna for warmth and conversation. We have even public saunas, usually located by a lake or sea - guess why. In winter, we go to sauna and afterwards we go to the icy lake / sea. It may sound crazy but it feels amazing and it definitely wakes you up in life, resets you and makes you feel strong. I recall this lovely incident I witnessed. After a kids ice-hockey tournament (8:00-19:00) this 10-year old boy started asking his mom if they could go to sauna at the end of the day finally. It was amazing to see how happy he was the tournament was over but also the excitement he felt about going to sauna. 

Let's just sum up the sauna benefits that extend far beyond relaxation and socialization. Here's how sauna contributes to health and well-being:

Stress Reduction:

Sauna induces a state of deep relaxation by promoting the release of endorphins, the body's natural stress relievers. The heat and steam help to soothe tense muscles and calm the mind, reducing stress levels and promoting overall relaxation.

Improved Circulation:

The heat from sauna causes blood vessels to dilate, leading to improved circulation throughout the body. This increased blood flow delivers oxygen and nutrients to tissues, promotes healing, and helps to flush out toxins from the body.

Muscle Relaxation:

Sauna heat relaxes muscles and relieves tension, making it an effective remedy for muscle soreness, stiffness, and fatigue. Regular sauna use can help alleviate muscle pain and improve flexibility and range of motion.


Sweating in the sauna helps the body eliminate toxins through the skin, promoting detoxification and cleansing. This process can support overall health and well-being by removing impurities and promoting a healthy balance within the body.

Immune System Support:

Sauna bathing has been shown to boost the immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells and activating the body's natural defense mechanisms. Regular sauna use may help reduce the risk of infections and support immune function.

Cardiovascular Benefits:

Sauna bathing can have positive effects on cardiovascular health by improving heart function, lowering blood pressure, and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. The heat stress experienced in sauna sessions may also have protective effects on the heart and blood vessels.

Respiratory Health:

The steam and heat in the sauna can help open up airways, promote respiratory health, and alleviate symptoms of respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and allergies. Sauna bathing may help clear congestion, improve breathing, and provide relief from respiratory discomfort.

Skin Health:

Sauna heat opens up pores and stimulates sweat production, which can help cleanse the skin and promote a healthy complexion. Regular sauna bathing may improve skin tone, texture, and overall appearance, as well as reduce the risk of skin conditions such as acne and eczema.

Mental Health Benefits:

Sauna bathing has been linked to improvements in mood, mental clarity, and overall psychological well-being. The relaxation and stress-relief benefits of sauna can help reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and mood disorders, promoting a sense of calm and inner peace.

Finland has one of the highest numbers of saunas per capita in the world. With a population of around 5.5 million people, Finland is estimated to have over 3 million saunas, which includes private saunas in homes, public saunas, and saunas in hotels, gyms, and other establishments. Sauna ownership is widespread in Finland, with the majority of Finnish households having access to a private sauna. It is estimated that over 90% of Finnish homes have a sauna, making it a common feature of residential dwellings. In addition to private saunas, Finland also has a rich tradition of public saunas. Public saunas can be found in cities, towns, and rural areas throughout the country, offering residents and visitors access to communal sauna experiences.

Coffee culture

I have always like coffee but only after having lived in Finland for a while, I fell in love with the Finnish coffee and drinking it the Finnish way. Honestly, coffee makes my day brighter and I take "kahvitauko" coffee break a lot. This is one of my habits to feel grounded, present in the moment and still. I had periods in my life when I didn't drink coffee at all and did I feel any different? Physically not really but mentally I missed my habit, my routine and my moments. 

Finland ranks among the top countries in the world for coffee consumption per capita, and coffee is an integral part of daily life for many Finns. It's not uncommon for Finns to drink multiple cups of coffee throughout the day, with coffee breaks being a cherished tradition. aking coffee breaks, known as "kahvitauko" in Finnish, is a cultural norm in Finland. Workers typically take regular coffee breaks throughout the day, providing opportunities to step away from work, recharge, and connect with coworkers. Coffee breaks are considered essential for maintaining productivity and well-being in the workplace.

While coffee is readily available in cafes and workplaces, many Finns also enjoy brewing coffee at home. Home coffee brewing is a popular pastime, and Finns take pride in their coffee-making skills. Traditional brewing methods such as drip coffee, French press, and Moka pot are common, as well as modern coffee machines. Moccamaster is one of the favorites, and Juhla Mokka - typically Finnish. Recently, consumption of oat milk barista is on the rise, and coffee cream (kahvikerma) is a typical option, which is super delicious. If you ever happen to be in Finland, you may want to try the most accessible R-kioski (it's a little shop just about on every corner) and usually their offer of coffee is at least 2-3 kinds with the option of adding milk, coffee cream or oat milk. Easy and accessible, try it! 

I am happy to include some fact about coffee that are positive in general. Let's read a little about this, here's what I found as up to date research (shortly):

Rich in Antioxidants: Coffee is a significant source of antioxidants, which help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body and protect cells from damage. Antioxidants in coffee, such as chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid, may contribute to overall health and well-being.
Improved Cognitive Function: The caffeine in coffee acts as a central nervous system stimulant, promoting alertness, concentration, and mental clarity. Regular coffee consumption has been associated with improved cognitive function, including enhanced memory, focus, and reaction time.
Boosted Metabolism: Caffeine has been shown to increase metabolic rate and promote fat burning, making coffee a potential aid for weight management and metabolism regulation. Drinking coffee before exercise may enhance performance and endurance by mobilizing fatty acids for energy.
Reduced Risk of Certain Diseases: Moderate coffee consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of several chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and certain types of cancer. The antioxidants and other bioactive compounds in coffee may offer protective effects against these conditions.
Heart Health: Some studies suggest that moderate coffee consumption may have cardiovascular benefits, such as a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and heart failure. Coffee may help improve blood vessel function, lower blood pressure, and reduce inflammation, contributing to heart health.
Liver Protection: Coffee consumption has been associated with a lower risk of liver diseases, including liver cirrhosis, liver fibrosis, and liver cancer. Regular coffee intake may help protect against liver damage caused by alcohol consumption, obesity, and other factors.
Mood Enhancement: Coffee is known to have mood-enhancing effects, thanks to its ability to increase the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. Moderate coffee consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of depression, improved mood, and a lower likelihood of suicide.
Longevity: Some research suggests that moderate coffee consumption may be associated with a longer lifespan. Regular coffee drinkers may have a lower risk of premature death from various causes, although the exact mechanisms behind this association are still being studied.

Nature and Outdoor Lifestyle

"There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes". This is one of the first ads you see, when you arrive at Helsinki airport. Guess why. Because it is true and I absolutely love the mindset. Honestly, there are days when you just don't go outside because you find the weather so awful and you just don't want to.  

Quality of life

Overall, the high quality of life in Finland is the result of a combination of factors, including safety and security, access to healthcare and education, social welfare systems, work-life balance, outdoor recreation opportunities, environmental sustainability, and social cohesion. Finns enjoy a high standard of living and a strong sense of well-being, making Finland a desirable place to live, work, and raise a family. However, I have to mention that Finland is NOT the most welcoming place for immigrants and not Finns. It varies and in general, the smaller city the worse atmosphere in this matter. This may be harsh for many, who need a lot of social contact and are sensitive to rejection. Many Finns are seen as shy but they shouldn't be. I have met so many amazing Finns, once we started communicating. 

Finland is known for its low crime rates, safety, and political stability. Residents enjoy a sense of security and peace of mind, with relatively low levels of violent crime, corruption, and social unrest. It has a well-developed healthcare system that provides universal access to high-quality medical care and services. Residents benefit from comprehensive healthcare coverage, including preventive care, treatment, and medications, ensuring that they can access the care they need without financial hardship.

Finland's education system is widely regarded as one of the best in the world, emphasizing equity, excellence, and innovation. Finnish schools offer free and high-quality education from early childhood through higher education, fostering academic achievement, creativity, and lifelong learning. It has a strong social welfare system that prioritizes social equality, fairness, and well-being. Generous social benefits, including unemployment benefits, parental leave, and healthcare coverage, help support individuals and families during times of need and ensure a high standard of living for all residents.

Finns place a strong emphasis on work-life balance, with shorter workweeks, generous vacation time, and flexible work arrangements being common. The concept of "sisu," or perseverance, is balanced with a culture of leisure and relaxation, allowing Finns to enjoy their free time and pursue hobbies and interests outside of work. 

Finland's stunning natural landscapes, including forests, lakes, and coastline, offer abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation and relaxation. Finns enjoy spending time in nature, engaging in activities such as hiking, skiing, fishing, and berry picking, which contribute to physical and mental well-being. I cannot not mention mushroom picking and the beautiful Yyteri beach. Every autumn, which in Finland starts in August as the school, I look forward to going to forest on my own, with my dog or with my kids. I can spend hours walking and enjoying in the nature, many time finding the treasure-like chanterelles and penny buns. Oh, and one more awesome fact is the reduction of mosquitos as the temperature drops to around +10. The act of mushroom picking is a therapy in itself. As my focus is walking in the nature, feeling every step, exercising my memory not to get lost in the forest, listening to the sounds of nature (not literally hunting down the mushrooms). 

Finland is known for its clean air, water, and environment, with strict environmental regulations and sustainable practices ensuring the preservation of natural resources and ecosystems. Residents benefit from access to clean and healthy living environments, which contribute to overall quality of life. And here is important to mention no litter policy and recycling. Everyone shares the responsibility for our environment and it is common to see people on walks carrying a bag or such to collect some unwanted litter if it occurs. 

Finland places a high value on social cohesion, community engagement, and trust in institutions. Strong social networks, civic participation, and a sense of solidarity foster a sense of belonging and connection among residents, contributing to overall happiness and well-being.

I'd say we can all learn a lot from this culture as it is so much connected to activities and mindsets that are prosperous and beneficial for us as humans.