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Luleå, Sweden, has a simple plan to solve the loneliness epidemic

They are trying to break the ice in cold Scandinavia.

A town in northern Sweden where the sun barely shines all winter has come up with a simple way to connect lonely residents: by asking everyone to say “hello” to each other. the guardian reported.

The idea comes as the planet faces post-pandemic loneliness, so much so that the World Health Organization described the problem as a “pressing health threat.”

“Loneliness and isolation are huge problems at any time of year and almost anywhere in the world right now,” Micael Dahlen, professor of well-being, well-being and happiness at the Stockholm School of Economics, told the outlet.

“It comes with the times in which we live, the lifestyles we have, where we do not necessarily find ourselves to the same extent as before. This accelerates in winter, when we are outdoors less and socialize less,” she added, stating that Sweden is especially susceptible.

In the far north of Sweden, isolation is rampant. A new initiative is trying to change that.
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Isolation is also much more culturally acceptable in the land of alternative meatballs. For example, guests generally do not expect to eat with their hosts.

In the city of Luleå, where officials are trying to cheer up residents with a warm greeting, the sun begins to set early in the afternoon and casts the region into great darkness for much of the day, something related to affectivity seasonal. disorder.

It is there that almost half of young people between 16 and 29 years old had problems related to loneliness, according to research cited by The Guardian.

“Before Covid it was 50-50: some people greeted each other. But after Covid, people are more afraid of having contact with strangers,” said Seyed Mohsen Hashemi, a 25-year-old resident.

This new campaign aims to change that forever. The concept at Luleå is simple: simply offer a warm greeting to your colleagues on the street with a “hej”, the Swedish term for “hello” that Ikea customers will already be familiar with.

Luleå residents may find themselves isolated, locals say.
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“A hej “It can change a day for someone,” Hashemi admits.

The message “Säg hej!” The mission (say hello) was started by Åsa Koski, who works for the city, a city that is experiencing a sudden growth due to the availability of employment. The catchy phrase is advertised on buses and schools even hold workshops on friendly greetings.

“We not only want Luleå to grow as a city; We want Luleå to be a nice, safe and friendly city, where there is also culture, leisure activities and sports,” Koski said. He added that friendly interactions with those you don’t know make you feel “more seen and a little more like you belong.”

According to research, the problem of loneliness in Luleå affects young people.
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“Research shows it has an effect on health and often the desire to help each other. If you say hello to your neighbors, you are more likely to help them.”

However, it might take some time for locals to get used to it, says Mee Young Yim, 62, who previously lived in the United States. She insists that Luleå is “mostly friendly,” although it doesn’t show at first.

“Everyone is a little reserved, but if you ask, people will help you,” Yim said.

A new initiative attempts to break the ice in a lonely part of Sweden.
Guillaume Leray –

“But here, especially the older ones, you say hello and at first they just look at me. But it has also changed a lot because we have more people from abroad.”

The nation’s natives also support what “Säg hej!” could introduce a new way.

“It’s really nice that people greet each other,” said resident Pontus Wikström, 61. “It means that people who know each other, who don’t know each other, become a little happier.”

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