A Fascinating Look at "Stress Relief" Around the World

How to reduce stress: women relaxing in a field
Free People UK

We have our own languages, cultures and everyday local nuances that seem perfectly normal to us but can seem totally bizarre to someone from another country. And it seems that where we come from plays a huge part in how we de-stress. For us Brits, that's probably either sticking the kettle on and making a cup of tea or heading to the pub for some locally crafted artisan beer. But not so elsewhere, which is why we asked women from around the world how they chill out and how where they come from plays a part in that.

Read on to find out how women around the globe find their inner zen.

The Netherlands

How to reduce stress: Foffa bike

"There are 16 million people living in the Netherlands, and apparently the same number of bikes, so when it comes to de-stressing, we get on our bikes, get out in the fresh air and either cycle to the beach or the woods. In fact, cyclists make up the majority on the roads. There are far more cyclists than pedestrians, and the cars know they have to drive safely, as there are always bikes everywhere. It's very common to see young children on the back of bikes—it's how most parents take them to nursery or school. I love being on my bike. I ride a Foffa (£319). I get a real sense of freedom, and if I've had a bad day at work, I know that my 30-minute cycle home will calm me down and shake all the negativity away. I couldn't recommend it more." — Rashmi Van de Loenhorst, communications director


How to reduce stress: pedalo

"My country is really picturesque, so nearly everyone I know wants to get outside when they're feeling stressed—the other option is to go to church, as a lot of people are very religious. But for me, it's always about being outside. We have amazing parks that have lakes in them and are really calm and peaceful. Nearly all the lakes have pedalos for hire, and it's really cheap to do, so that is somewhere a lot of people head to when it's all feeling too much. You'll find pedalo lakes even in small cities. There are pedalos for groups if you're with your friends, but they have single pedalos also, when you just want to get out on the water by yourself. I think the combination of the views and the stillness of the water is what makes it such a great way to de-stress." — Adriana Bun, PhD student

United States

How to reduce stress: hiking

"If I'm stressed, then I need to get outside and hike. I live in Arizona, so I head to the mountains, and I love being surrounded by the rocks and the cacti. And hiking is not unique to Arizona: Just look at L.A. Not a day goes past where you don't see an A-list celeb hiking up and down the Hollywood Hills. Hiking is so calming because you're outside, at one with nature and, unlike running, there's no competitive edge. Plus, anyone can do it, which is another reason I think it's so popular in the U.S. You can be any age, any fitness level, and all you need to do is grab a pair of sneakers, put them on your feet and go!" — Jaimie Pruden, actress and singer


How to reduce stress: swimming

"In Iceland, it's all about nature. We obviously have all the hot springs—the Blue Lagoon being the most famous—and we use them to relax, but generally, as a whole, I think we're very connected to nature, and that helps people feel calm. We care about it, and we respect it and its healing powers. Swimming is one of the main ways Icelandic people de-stress. We have swimming pools everywhere, in every town and almost on every corner. We learn how to swim when we're very young; it's mandatory in every school until you're 16 years old.

"I think because we're a fishing nation, in the old days, everyone had to know how to swim so they could work out at sea. It's very common for people to go swimming in groups and then sit in the hot tubs afterwards chatting. A relatively new thing that's now popping up is going to the swimming pool and floating with music playing in your ears! Personally, I'm not really into swimming—I prefer yoga—but I do occasionally go camping with friends, and it's quite cosy during the long summer nights when we have 24 hours of daylight to sit with friends in a natural pool with nobody else around." — Eva Vestmann, designer


How to reduce stress: surfing

"Without wanting to sound like I'm rubbing it in, we have great weather here in Australia, and I think it's because of that there's a huge focus on getting outside and finding happiness in the outdoors. And of course, we Aussies have a reputation for being laid-back, which doesn't mean that we don't get stressed, but that's why exercising outside is so important. For those who live near the coast, that's about getting down to the beach, surfing and swimming. We also have loads of outdoor gyms on the beachfronts. And for city dwellers, there are beautiful running routes or exercise classes that take place outside rather than in a stuffy gym. Exercising outside not only boosts your natural endorphins, but it's so much more enjoyable, and it's all thanks to our weather that we can do that to burn away stress." — Lisa Patulny, Byrdie Australia editor


How to reduce stress: glass of wine

"The French are known for their love of food and wine, and sometimes the biggest clichés are the truest. When you think about someone from France, you probably see them holding a baguette and a glass of wine, and since moving here 10 years ago, I have found these to be the two most common daily elements. Meeting up with friends for a drink is a great way to de-stress and a popular thing to do when the weather is good (and even when it isn't!). Having a cocktail or a glass of wine—because French wine is exceptional—and catching up on a terrasse with friends is an excellent way to disconnect and get to the heart of what really matters." — Victoria Conon-Wong, office co-ordinator


How to reduce stress: cup of coffee

"It's all about fika—pronounced 'fee-ka'—here in Sweden. It literally means 'to drink coffee,' but in reality, it's more than that. It's about taking a break from work, relax and enjoy a cup of coffee and cake with friends or by yourself. The most popular combination is coffee with kanelbullar—essentially a cinnamon roll, but slightly smaller, lighter and very aromatic compared with other versions. We also have mysig, which is similar to the Danish hygge. It's all about treating yourself, especially in the winter when it's really dark and gloomy. And it's not extravagant, but simple things like lighting lots of candles, lighting a fire, getting cosy—anything that makes you feel warm and happy, but for me, that's what fika does." — Maddy Savage, journalist

Up next! Meet F45, the cult Australian workout London women are lining up for.

Opening Image: Free People UK

Related Stories