Updated: Nov 21
All last week André and I did something right out of our comfort zone.
It's called Hell Week.
It's a week of mental training designed by Norwegian mindset coach Erik Bertrand Larrsen.
Bertrand is an Norwegian ex-paratrooper with a very disciplined mindset, but a very Scandinavian way of approaching it without judgment and pressure, but with some serious encouragement.
The point of Hell Week is to reset your attitude, look at the way you spend your time and help to refocus you with a bit of grit and resilience. The idea is that you carry the things you learn with you into the future and make your life more focused and enriched.
I also wanted to take part in something that gave me a much deeper understanding of Norwegian grit and resilience. The kind of qualities that carry Nordic people happily through the tough times and difficult seasons.
The week starts on Monday morning and finishes on Sunday night with a different theme to each day to help you think deeply and reconsider the way in which you are approaching every aspect of your life.
There are 7 basic rules to the week:
Early to bed, early to rise. Get up at 5am and go to bed at 10pm every day
Look your absolute best at all times. I confess there were times when I had to put this to one side. Cleaning out a chicken coop in a dress is a bit impractical!
Exercise to the extreme.
Stick to a healthy diet and NO junk food. This was one of the easiest aspects of Hell Week. We eat pretty healthily most of the time anyway and I find it easy to walk past the snacks aisle in the supermarket. If it's not in the cupboards you are less likely to eat it.
Take charge of your digital life and no TV
Step up your game. Try to step everything up and do your very best.
It sounds a bit heavy duty doesn't it?! But in fact some of the "rules" were easy enough to stick to and were things we already did. The exercise bit worried me a little because with Mia around all day it's not always easy to do any structured exercise, but the weather gods were smiling fondly on me and dumped a load of snow each day. This turned into my exercise with 1.5 hours daily of snow shovelling that I had no choice but to do. Mia played outside at the same time so it was a win-win.
Do you want to know how each day went and tasks we had to do? Great, let me tell you about it!
Monday - Habits (good and bad)
We both wfelt that getting up at 5am on Monday was easy. We'd prepared ourselves and it felt really positive.
This was one of the most eye-opening days when we tracked our habits both good and bad. We made simple lists of the things that we found ourselves habitually doing and often without things about. A lot of them were real time stealers and served no purpose whatsoever like automatically turning on the TV and scrolling social media pointlessly. You know the kind of thing I am talking about - you start to read something on Facebook and then it leads to something else and before you know it you are scrolling down the news feed and there is no purpose to it at all but it can easily waste 20 minutes. Once you've identified your habits good and bad, you can start to make decisions about what is worth keeping and what you can consciously remove.
Tuesday - Modes
Getting up was still easy but we were SO tired by about 9pm. Tuesday was a tough one for me. We were to watch the way were worked and did things all day and consider how we had done things in the pass and identify each mode of working and the times in which we achieved the most. A bit like athletes preparing for a competition and the things they do to psyche themselves up. We both realised that we work best when we are under a little bit of pressure and have a deadline. Who'd have thought it! I guess it's logical. Otherwise you have a tendency to amble along with no pressure or call to action.
Wednesday - Managing your time
This was a day that went a bit deeper with time management from yearly to daily. It was interesting to see how we plan things and get really focused on it all.
Bertrand also encourages you to "hit the pause button" and take a good long look at what you are planning your time on and whether it's actually worthwhile, and the things that you are not planning time for like family.
Thursday - Getting Out of Our Comfort Zone
Thursday is day when you are supposed to stay awake all night. From 5am on Thursday morning until 10pm on Friday night. We decided to skip the all nighter because André needs to be sharp for work and I have a medical condition that gets worse with lack of sleep (I manage it super-carefully and consequently don't need medication. So I never want to jeopardise that).
The deeper work with Thursday was to harness your fears. The strange thing is that once you do that you realise that they are probably not all that big and most of our fears are of fear itself without much substance.
Friday - Rest and Restitution
The focus on Friday was to actively rest and take time t consider how the week was going. Meditation is something that is recommended, but we took the evening easy without any pressure and used that as our rest.
Saturday - Positive thinking
Saturdays work was all about thinking positively about everything. Every thought that came into our heads had to be assessed as to whether it was positive or negative. Negative thoughts are dismissed for the day. This is all about practicing a positive mindset.
Sunday - Putting life into perspective
There was a bit too much focus on Sunday on how long you have left in the world. In the book, Bertrand tells a story about a business leader who has a clock by his bed that counts down from the average lifespan of a man his age. Basically how much time he has left in this world. That was a bit too negative for us and rather than doing something like that we tried to focus on making each day matter and each moment of each day matter.
André and I both went into Hell Week feeling that even if we came away with one habit changed or one goal more clearly visualised then we had gained something, but it's been far more revealing than I had imagined and given us the focus that we have been lacking in some aspects of our lives. But there is no doubt that's exhausting. Not just physically, but mentally because you are constantly assessing each part of your life and the way you approach it. It's a lot to take in all at once.
However, I feel it has focussed us even more on our journey towards making life simpler and more meaningful. Removing TV in the morning and evening, and actively thinking about when we are mindlessly scrolling social media and has made the most impact. We are happier, calmer and it's freed up an unexpected amount of time. So I call that a win!
This is NOT an advert but if you are interested in Erik Bertrand Larssen's book, Hell Week, you can find it here.
You can even join a Hell Week webinar with Bertrand and learn more about how you can benefit from a Hell Week in your own life. The link is here
If you want to learn more about our journey to live a simpler Nordic life and how you can too, then you should join us in the Living a Nordic Life Facebook group.