How to live well

The Bridge’s Sofia Helin on stay­ing fit and keep­ing art and life apart

The Observer Magazine - - SELF & WELLBEING -

It’s a myth that all Scan­di­na­vians are happy, healthy, out­doors peo­ple. It’s of­ten more a mat­ter of class whether you can af­ford to take time to take care of your­self.

It’s al­most as if the Swedes have two dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties: one for win­ter and one for sum­mer. I am both a happy and a melan­cholic per­son. It’s com­plex as I get so much from life. I come from a big fam­ily, I have two chil­dren, I have suc­cess… and yet I have re­ally melan­cholic pe­ri­ods. I try to take care of my health. I’m in ther­apy and I ex­er­cise and med­i­tate.

Some of the roles I play are very de­mand­ing. My body and brain can’t sep­a­rate what is real fear from what is played fear. With my ra­tio­nal mind I tell my­self, ‘This is not re­ally dan­ger­ous,’ but my body still re­sponds by be­ing afraid. Spend­ing time with my fam­ily and friends helps and I go for Thai mas­sages, but it takes a while to calm down, to put my feet on the ground again and to be me. For my role as Saga in The

Bridge I re­searched autism. The big­gest thing I learned is how lonely peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties get. When you go out in the streets be­hav­ing like that, you can sense that peo­ple’s in­ter­est just dies.

My hus­band and I have been mar­ried for 15 years. He is a pri­est in the Church of Swe­den. I have a faith, but it’s not so for­mal. We made our peace with that. There is a say­ing that when you are mar­ried you should think about your­self as two trees and not stand too close as trees can’t grow if they are in the shadow of each other.

When I’m med­i­tat­ing I have a picture in my head of when I’m happy and calm: when I’m in my ham­mock in the gar­den of our sum­mer­house. I hear the chil­dren on the tram­po­line and maybe my hus­band is sit­ting and read­ing. I hear the birds, I see butterflies, I hear the ocean, and that’s heaven. Joanne O’Con­nor

Sofia Helin stars in The Bridge on BBC2 on Fri­days at 9pm

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