Niksen-the Dutch art of doing nothing

niksen

It’s always amusing when a single word from a foreign language kick starts an entire lifestyle trend, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Sometimes all a person needs is a little bit of inspiration, or a spark of encouragement, to make changes they’ve been craving all along.

Do you remember hygge, the Danish concept of coziness that captivated people’s imaginations?

Or lagom, the Swedish idea of living in moderation and friluftslivb  the concept of open-air living?

And more recently one heard of dostadning, a.k.a. Swedish Death Cleaning, or the act of slowly and steadily decluttering one’s home as the years go by.

And now another word is making its way into wellness headlines, and this time hailing from the Netherlands.

The word is ‘NIKSEN‘ and it “literally means to do nothing, to be idle or doing something without any use.

Why is it so valuable, you may ask? Well, for one, it stands in stark contrast to the way in which most people live these days, rushing around from dawn till dusk with an unending to-do list.

The duties never end. We do this, despite knowing how unhealthy it is, depriving us of downtime, of sleep, of time to think, of time spent with family and engaging in hobbies.

Whereas mindfulness is about being present in the moment, niksen is more about carving out time to just be, even letting your mind wander rather than focusing on the details of an action.

Practicing niksen could be as simple as just hanging around, looking at your surroundings, simply sitting in a chair looking out of the window, or listening to music —as long as it’s without purpose, and not done in order to achieve something or be productive.

Studies have shown that niksen offers emotional perks — like reducing anxiety — to physical advantages — like curtailing the aging process and strengthening the body’s ability to fight off a common cold.

Another benefit of niksen is that it can help people come up with new ideas, when we do nothing; our brain is still processing information and can use the available processing power to solve pending problems, which in turn can boost one’s creativity.

For many, doing nothing isn’t as simple as it sounds. In fact, it can be somewhat challenging to sit still and stare out a window when one is used to doing something at all times.

But then one has to dare to be idle. It is all about allowing life to run its course, and to free us from obligations for just a moment. We need to train our minds to wander in a way that’s imaginative and creative. Some “gateway” practices to niksen could be taking a walk in nature, gardening, and reducing tech tine or just meditate.

Niksen gives a name to a concept I already embrace at home. I adore lazy weekends with my family, when there is nothing on the docket and nowhere to be. My favorite evenings are the unscheduled ones, when I can lie on the couch and read a novel. I suppose one might call that productive, but to me its pure idleness and I love it.

Niksen is the antidote to stress and burnouts.

Niksen is giving you permission to hibernate without an intention.

Niksen is taking time off to embracing life’s pauses.

 

-M

 

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