Spring Wellbeing Concept - Sisu

Four Scents Team

Sisu encapsulates the season of Spring

what can this look like for us?


What is Sisu?

A Finnish word, Sisu is not an easy one to translate into a single English word. It could be the ability to go beyond your physical or mental capacity, determination in the face of adversity or discovering that bit of extra strength. It covers meanings such as grit, resilience, tenacity and hardiness.
For the purposes of this blog, resilience is our word of choice, perfectly encapsulating the season of spring. Nature is literally bouncing back – after the darkness, coldness and challenges of winter, life once again emerges with a stunning display of vibrant colours. Hibernation is over and migrating birds begin to return. Dormancy is only for a season.
  Resilient Spring Growth

Background of Sisu

Dating back hundreds of years, Sisu is integral to understanding Finnish culture. It is central to the collective psyche, but it wasn’t really defined for a long time. It originates from the word “sisus” which means “guts”! A Finnish bishop, Daniel Juslenius, coined “sisucunda” as the location in the body where strong emotions came from in 1745. In the 1940s, some attempts were made to further define the concept, but it wasn’t until 2013 that research was undertaken to examine Sisu within the psychological framework. At the 3rd World Congress on Positive Psychology that year, Sisu was introduced as a psychological power potential. It is still deeply valued among Finns and Finnish Americans, with public interest for cultivating this quality. Sisu is probably at its most famous for its part in the Winter War of 1939-1940, where the Finnish showed extraordinary perseverance in the face of the Soviet Union invasion.
  History of Sisu

How can Sisu Work for Us?

The Finnish are admired for their high happiness levels, so perhaps their resilience is part of the reason for this? Mental toughness and flexibility are something that can certainly be built and maintained as a skill to be drawn on in uncertain times.
The initial reaction can be: ‘Great, does this mean having to grin and bear tasks I don’t enjoy?’
The good news is that Sisu can be introduced into our lives in a positive way that is do-able!
  Sisu in Nature

Naturally Strong

After a long, harsh winter that sees little daylight hours, the Finns take time to properly celebrate their long summer in late June, heading to their summer cabin (or mökki) for a few weeks. It’s out in the wild, equipped with a fireplace and cooking facilities, but often without central heating and running water!
Nature teaches us to be self-sufficient and grounded, while helping to boost self-esteem. While you don’t have to go to the length of spending weeks in a cabin, nature is a great teacher in learning how to bounce back. It could look like spending more time outdoors, learning about nature in your local surroundings. An appreciation for the tenacity of animal and plant life lends a sense of perspective, becoming part of a greater picture. That feeling of connectedness to our surroundings can help us to realise that, as a part of it, we too have the ability not just bounce back but thrive! Having a go at growing vegetables, salad, herbs etc. furthers that sense of connectedness and teaches us a lot about self-sufficiency, not to mention a sense of satisfaction. Trying camping also teaches us about leaving our comfort zone and adapting to our environment. Living closer to nature inspires us to be more active, can help us to reset our body clocks (by using natural light as our guide), and encourages us to be in the moment, so we’re less likely to ruminate.
Resilient Friendship

Resilient Friendship

Relationships are crucial to facing the tougher times in life. This doesn’t necessarily mean being in a crowd, but rather quality friendships that are positive and upbuilding and are something of a support network. And this means in person rather than social media! This generally doesn’t encourage resilience, especially when it tends to invite comparison. It’s easy to cancel meeting up through business or tiredness, but pushing past these and making the time comes with its rewards, particularly if you’re authentic with these friends about what you’re feeling. The great thing about resilience is that you can allow yourself to be vulnerable! Sharing can help minimise the fear surrounding an issue, can help you feel validated, or lend perspective. Emotional support and a sense of belonging is known to have positive effects on our physical wellbeing too.
Sisu Challenge

Challenge Yourself

It’s easy to get into a groove of familiarity and comfort, sticking with what we know and are good at. It’s no surprise that stepping outside of this grows resilience especially well! The important thing is to let go of perfectionism and be at ease with getting things wrong – it’s all part of a new experience and a great teacher. The trick is not to push yourself so far out of your comfort zone that you end up stressed and anxious, but a sense of relative unease that comes with a new and interesting situation. Facing and overcoming this can give a buzz and help you to realise that you’re far more capable than you gave yourself credit for! What’s something new that you would like to try?  Sisu in this instance is to be nervous but still go for it. Simply having the courage to put one foot in front of the other shows grit and tenacity.
Healthy Resilience

Healthy Resilience

Stress is an unavoidable part of life – what makes the difference is how we handle it. To adopt healthy habits is to build up a power bank of both physical and emotional strength. Checking in with your emotional state through journalling can help. Sorting through uncomfortable feelings and recognising when the inner critic is too loud can encourage us to turn this around and be kinder to ourselves. Knowing your weaknesses and being active in turning them into strengths, helps you to overcome setbacks. Pairing this practice with gratitude further helps to regulate the emotions and motivate you towards better outcomes.
Physical habits, such as sleep, exercise and spending time outdoors all contribute towards being better set up to face the challenges life throws at us. Being intentional about taking time to switch off (this could be a lie-in or enjoying a moment of silence before the rest of the household stirs) is also beneficial in developing resilience.
Having a way to centre yourself, be it through mindfulness, faith, or something as simple as walking, can help you to feel less overwhelmed by the world. These things can help to declutter the mind and keep you grounded in the face of adversity.
Sisu Essential Oils

Essential Oils for Resilience

Our sense of smell powerfully connects us to our emotions, and what better way to help us in our quest for greater Sisu, or resilience, than essential oils? Here are a few oils and their emotional benefits to help develop this:
Cedarwood – boosts self-assurance and confidence. A much-loved base note in our Winter Rest blend.
Clove and Thyme – aid recovery and resilience after illness:
Clove helps restore optimism; featured in our Winter Rest blend. Thyme helps restore the immune system and tops our Autumn Harmony blend.
Frankincense and Ylang-Ylang – encourage reprioritising. Frankincense is the heart of our Autumn Harmony blend, while Ylang-Ylang features in both our Spring Vitality and Summer Radiance blends.
Geranium helps to let go of fears and provides a floral note to our Autumn Harmony blend.
Lemongrass – encourages assertiveness and is the main feature of our Spring Vitality blend.
Lime and Mandarin - promote better self-worth. Lime tops our Spring Vitality blend, while Mandarin provides a fresh note in our Summer Radiance blend.
Oudh – enhances inner strength. A Sisu staple found in our Winter Rest blend.
Palo Santo – instils positivity and creativity, featuring in our Autumn Harmony blend.
Petitgrain – helps clear the mind, boosting feelings of joy and courage, particularly in challenging times. A top note for both our Summer Radiance and Winter Rest blends.
Rose – overcomes disappointment and frustration. The heart of our Summer Radiance blend.
Spikenard – centring and grounding, underpinning our Winter Rest blend.
Tuberose – grounding and fortifying in turbulent times. A base note in our Summer Radiance blend.
Vetiver – Brings clarity in times of transition and the ability to see new opportunities. A grounding element to both our Autumn Harmony and Winter Rest blends.
Times are uncertain, especially at present. However, with a little help from our Finnish friends, we can tap into a strength that we never knew had, facing what’s ahead of us with confidence. This grounded determination helps us not just to bounce back, but bounce forwards into the new season…

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