This American Spent 72 Hours In A Glass Cabin In Sweden To De-StressNovember 8, 2017
Visit Sweden is known for its interesting approaches to promote the Swedish outdoor experience.
In 2017, the entire country of Sweden was listed on Airbnb, and more recently, Visit Sweden launched the 72 Hour Cabin, where five people from around the world with particularly stressful occupations were invited to spend 72 hours in the Swedish wilderness, spending their nights in a glass cabin and their days exploring, fishing and kayaking.
While this sounds like an incredible time, it wasn’t just a vacation; this was a case study to determine if time spent on a remote Swedish island could help lower the stress levels of those involved.
The study used a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods in order to get an idea of each participant’s well-being. Measurements were taken when individuals arrived and reassessed after 72 hours. And while the study isn’t the most scientific, stress levels at the end of the 72-hour time period dropped as much as 70 percent.
Long story short, head to Sweden and unplug for a few days to de-stress. It works.
To get a better sense of the experience, we tracked down Baqer Keshwani, one of the five participating individuals and the only American chosen for the study, for a quick update now that he’s returned to the hustle and bustle of New York City civilization.
The 72 Hour Cabin was extended to five people around the world with particularly stressful jobs. You work for Purity, an event management agency based in New York. Can you tell me a little bit more about your job and walk me through a typical day in the life?
A typical day in my life starts with a long commute from Long Island to the Lower East Side where my office is based. As the head of Purity USA, my job is to pitch ideas to get more business, whilst making sure that our current activations and clients are satisfied with our work. Due to the nature of the event industry, I am always mindful of the unexpected hurdles that may jeopardize the activations, therefore I am always at hand to chip in with my experience.
What were your expectations going into the 72 Hour Cabin? Was there any hesitancy about completely unplugging for three days?
When I got the invitation for the 72 Hour Cabin, I was very curious and excited about this project and thought it was just going to be another holiday-type experience. Of course, I was hesitant and skeptical at the same time because I had never been completely unplugged for even a handful of hours, let alone 72 hours! Also, during this time we were about to deliver a huge project for a new client in Vancouver so I was thinking of turning down the trip completely.
To contrast to your life in NYC, talk about your “typical” day on Henriksholm, the island where you stayed for those 72 hours.
I remember clearly that both mornings in Henriksholm began with me opening my eyes to the very first ray of the sun beaming through the dark skies in the distance whilst around me were the tall trees and a beautiful calm lake. It is a picture I will perhaps never forget in my life.
I would stare at that for a good half hour before heading out for a walk in the gorgeous wilderness admiring the beauty in front of my eyes. After an authentic Swedish breakfast or “FIKA in the woods,” the adventures of the nature would begin. Every time, I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried something new; be it kayaking, boating, fishing or simply relaxing in the sauna before taking a dip in the freezing cold lake!
Lunch was always by the lake, something light and full of nutrition, and the afternoon would be filled with more relaxation, perhaps reading a book or taking a nap.
Dinner, though, never failed to impress, with everything sourced locally and prepared on site. All five of us would then talk about the amazing day around the campfire and go back to our cabins in the darkness, falling asleep with a sky full of twinkling stars.
You were on the island with four other people who were also participating in the 72 Hour Cabin. Did you get to spend much time with them? Did you all get close after your time in seclusion?
Yes, we all spent a lot of time together and learned more about each other’s lives. I could see why we were chosen and how stressful everyone’s lives were. Everyone had their strengths and weaknesses, and we helped each other out whilst out there. Although it was extremely safe, not everyone was comfortable in the woods or in the open waters, and I believe staying together helped everyone build their confidence and encouraged us to try new adventures.
I am still in touch with all the participants and whilst we are now all busy in our lives, we still take time to say hello and share current stories with one another.
At the beginning of your blog post about the experience, you mentioned that Swedes will rotate between warming in the sauna and jumping in the chilly lake, but you asserted, “I wasn’t setting foot in that water, too cold for my delicate NYC body!” Yet, at the end of your post, you wrote about how you did it… repeatedly! Tell me about the mentality change and how it reflects the greater lessons you took away from your time in the wilderness.
Having lived in big cities for most of my life, pumpkin picking at farms in the countryside is the closest I’ve ever been to the nature. The moment I set foot on Henriksholm, the purity and originality of this great wilderness astonished me. Curious about everything like a child, I also wanted to be cautious since I was surrounded by things that I have never seen or experienced before, things that were so different from the “concreate jungle” I live in.
My mentality changed after I experienced cooking on the campfire and wooden stoves, kayaking in the morning and fishing in the middle of the lake. I completely fell for it and was ready to embrace this enchanted nature with all my heart.
At the end of the 72 Hour Cabin experience, I just wanted to take it all in and store it in my memory. Therefore, I tried dipping into the cold water after the sauna. It was surprisingly calming and relaxing, which sounded impossible and odd to me only a couple of days prior.
Now that you have been back on the job for over a month and had some time to reflect and readjust, has the experience affected your work life in any way?
The Swedish woods have changed my mindset. Although my everyday life is still stressful, I feel much calmer inside, which helps me to get work done in a more efficient and relaxing way. This unforgettable 72-hour experience has de-stressed me and has taught me to see things from a different perspective. I am looking forward to my next adventure soon.
If you could sum up the experience in three words, what would they be?
Magical, perfect, unforgettable.
Since the official study has ended, Visit Sweden has opened up the cabins for public bookings. Same rules: 72 hours, five random people, no technology. Book today!