Fika basically means “to have coffee”. It’s a concept widespread across Sweden and Finland, similar to afternoon tea in the UK, where you meet with loved ones, have a cup of coffee with a pastry or a cake. In Sweden pastries are called fikabröd, literally meaning fika bread.
Fika breaks are common place across Sweden with many workplaces having 2 throughout the day. It’s a good time for colleagues to get together, chat and relax. Not to dissimilar to a tea break across the UK, however it does generally include eating something, whether it be a pastry, a sandwich or even some fruit.
As this isn’t a concept which has managed to reach other parts of the world as of yet you may think that bringing fika into your daily life could be a struggle, but with some minor adaptations to your day it could be achieved.
Fika can be broken down into 3 main parts: a drink, something to eat, and a break from your daily routine. These are essential.
Traditionally this is coffee, but it doesn’t have to be. I really dislike coffee but a cup of tea is a perfect substitute for me. Consider your options: what do you have available and what do you really want. If you’re in a café the world is your oyster but if you’re at home or at work you could be limited in your selection. Pick the beverage which you can see yourself enjoying.
It is commonplace to enjoy fika with a pastry, biscuits or cinnamon bun, but if you’re like me and trying to maintain/lose some weight, this may not be the right option for you. Consider having a lighter snack such as a piece of fruit, or maybe even a small sandwich or wrap.
This, for me, is the most important element to fika. It is a purposeful way of removing yourself from work and enjoying a short amount of time with friends, family or colleagues. We all know taking a break is good for our mental wellbeing: it gives us time to process information and lower the amount of stress we put on our brains. It’s also a good way of building, strengthening and maintaining the bonds we have with other people. We’ve all been there, we’ve lost track of time and before you know it we haven’t spoken to our closest friends for days, weeks or (if you’re like me) months. Use this as an opportunity to get back in touch.
There are so many ways of bringing a touch of fika into our lives. It doesn’t have to be a daily occurrence if you really can’t manage it. It could be a weekly treat. A weekly fika treat.
If you work and have allocated breaks, consider spending one of these breaks with another colleague. Have a chat about work and your personal lives. This is a prime time to build a bond with someone you otherwise may only see during working hours. Bring in some pastries or biscuits, put the kettle on and sit down for a chat.
Outside of work you could maybe organize a weekly fika break with friends. Make an occasion out of it! Get together at your favourite coffee shop and shoot the breeze. Remove yourselves from your general day to day activities and have a break with friends.
Fika is a fun concept and I hope you take some inspiration from it. My plan is to bring some fika into my Sunday routine. Let me know how you get on!