Spain: Napping

It might seem counterintuitive to spend time more time in bed in order to improve your health, but as the people of Spain know, napping has multiple brain and body benefits. Not only can it improve productivity and energy levels, but it can also lower cortisol and force the body to slow down and process during periods of busyness and stress.

India: Oil pulling

Oil pulling involves taking a mouthful of coconut oil, and swilling it around the mouth once a day before spitting it out. This process is supposed to freshen breath, whiten teeth, strengthen gums and contribute to good oral health overall. Many people in India employ this technique in conjuction with or instead of regular teeth brushing.

France: Savoring food

Taking more pleasure in food might seem difficult to balance with your health goals, but France has proven that a culture of celebrating and savoring meals is compatible with improved health and fitness outcomes. Giving meals the time and attention they deserve trains your body to recognize its hunger and fullness cues, and can even be beneficial to one’s mental health.

China: Drinking hot water

Many people in America start their day with a cup of hot coffee, while those in the British Isles may prefer to have a mug of tea with their breakfast. However, in China, many people’s morning beverage of choice is a cup of hot water, sometimes with lemon, which is said to lower cortisol levels in the morning, aid digestion and stave off illness.

Italy: Enjoying doing nothing

The health benefits of rest and recuperation are innumerous, as they improve everything from sleep quality and gut health to life expectancy and mental clarity. Italy’s culture is unafraid of slowing down and taking time to restore energy, as proven by their common idiom “il dolce far niente” or, the sweetness of doing nothing.

The Netherlands: Cycling

If the Netherlands is known for anything, it’s cycling. Not only are bicycles the preferred option for commuting, but the country’s infrastructure is built to allow for cycling to be the default mode of transport for both work and pleasure. Dutch people embrace the many physical and mental benefits of cycling, from muscle building and elevated mood to socialization opportunities and heart health.

Japan: Mineral spring bathing

In Japan, baths aren’t reserved for special spa outings, or enjoyed with a glass of wine and candles after a particularly stressful work day. Instead, bathing is a daily and social ritual that is said to decrease anxiety and stress levels, improve mindfulness, regulate digestion and even improve skin texture. Hot spring baths are also a place for meditation and solitude.

Thailand: Assisted yoga

Despite often being called Thai massage, this combination of Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine is actually more similar to yoga. Instead of laying on a table and being gently rubbed down with oils, assisted yoga involves being stretched, pulled and rocked by a practitioner in order to alleviate tension, improve circulation and promote flexibility.

Sweden: Eating seasonally

In Sweden, you will find it difficult to find a box of fresh strawberries at the grocery store in February, or the ingredients needed for a hearty soup in the middle of June. Though increasingly rare around the globe today, the country’s commitment to eating seasonally isn’t just good for the planet, but good for the population’s health too, as it encourages intentionality, awareness and mindfulness around food.

Iceland: Swimming

Pools are prolific throughout Iceland, and it isn’t just the physical health benefits of a brisk swim that have people excited about them. People throughout the country also celebrate the social aspects of swimming pools, which reduce loneliness, increase togetherness, connectivity and community, all of which leads to longer lifespans and fewer chronic health conditions.