We can make both small lifestyle changes as individuals and bigger changes as a nation in order to live improved lives. Wouldn’t it be great to leave the serious, cold British reputation behind and replace it with one as warm and welcoming as the rest of Europe? Personally, I think we should all take a leaf out of the Spaniards’ book…
1. Slow down
Whilst a fast-paced life may seem exciting and adrenaline filled for some, it causes the majority of us great stress and gives us little time to relax. We should stop freaking out when someone is ten minutes late, stop thinking ahead to everything we need to get done that day, and instead live in the moment and go with the flow. It’s extremely rare to see people in Spain rushing along the street, a different world entirely from the madly panicked crowds seen in London.
2. Be friendlier
In the UK, you would receive some very strange looks if you said hello to strangers when you got in the lift. This is totally normal in Spain and it would be considered rude not to acknowledge a stranger who is in close proximity to you for whatever reason. Furthermore, Spaniards use many more complimentary terms of endearment towards strangers, women often being called guapa (beautiful) and men tío (mate). These aspects would seem absurd in current British culture, but they create a sense of compassion and love for humanity that we lack in the UK.
3. Eat more tapas
Although the concept of a tapas-style meal originates from Spain, there’s no reason why we can’t adopt it in the UK. New tapas bars are popping up all over the country, but we can also recreate it in our homes. Smaller portions to share mean that there’s more variety in your meal, but the real benefit of tapas lies in the social element it creates. Dividing, passing and commenting on each dish around the table makes for a more interesting meal which is full of chatter. Finishing the accompanying bottle of wine also prolongs the meal and stretches the conversation into the evening, a concept the Spanish call sobremesa, over the table, in reference to this post-meal chatter.
4. Take siestas
The reason Brits can be so grouchy and go to bed relatively early in comparison to Spaniards is that we’re not taking siestas. In truth, it’s because we don’t allow ourselves enough time. If we adopted the aforementioned lifestyle changes of slowing down and finishing work earlier, we’d be able to lie down for an afternoon nap and wake up with a renewed energy.
5. Churros for breakfast
I’m not sure which is unhealthier: churros con chocolate or a fry up – so why not indulge? The Spanish sure have a sweet tooth – especially when it comes to this traditional breakfast, and now with so many exciting varieties, it’s hard to decide which to get! This Spanish delicacy is definitely worth introducing in the UK.
6. Provide fresh food at work on special occasions
Something I’ve thoroughly enjoyed whilst working in Spain is free food at work. Reminiscent of taking sweets to school when it was your birthday, the Spanish haven’t let go of this generous tradition. Just like they put on a spread of their local favourites, such as tortilla or empanada, we should lay out British classics like pies or scones. The food lifts everyone’s spirits and draws attention to the person whose birthday it is, leading to obligatory congratulations from each and every one of your colleagues. Small lifestyle changes such as this one would make going to work on your birthday not half as bad.
7. Replace the formal handshake with two cheek kisses
No wonder the British are thought of as uptight and stand-offish when we ‘politely’ extend a hand in greeting. Imagine how much more comfortable you would be if you went for an interview or started a new job and made this type of physical contact as opposed to the formal handshake. This friendly greeting sets a very different tone, immediately establishing better relationships.
8. Only go to school and work until 2pm
Admittedly, this is largely due to Spain’s warm climate however it means that your day isn’t totally consumed by work. You have plenty of time left in the day to get other things done and enjoy leisure activities.
9. Use Whatsapp voice notes
If you live in Spain for a substantial period, it won’t be long until you discover that every Spaniard is on Whatsapp and uses it as their primary source of communication. Not only this, but they mainly use the voice note function instead of typing a written message. We don’t seem to do this in the UK through fear of embarrassment, judgment or invasion of privacy when in public, but the open, carefree attitude throughout Spain allows them to communicate in a faster, easier way that also avoids the potential miscommunication that text messages can cause through lack of tone of voice.
10. Watch Spanish TV
If you’re not a Spanish speaker, this aspect may not have occurred to you, but Spain have produced some great comedy films such as Campeones, Ocho Apellidos Vascos and Perdiendo el Norte, as well as gripping Netflix series’ including Las Chicas del Cable, La casa de Papel, and Elite to name a few favourites. Open your mind to stepping outside of your preferred genre and you’ll find you learn a lot about Spanish culture whist enjoying quality entertainment. Lifestyle changes can be as easy as finding the subtitles button!