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Feeling Stressed Out? Try The Dutch Wellness Practice Of ‘Niksen’

Salva Mubarak
Senior Features Writer

When was the last time you sat by yourself and did nothing? Can you recall a time when you were not thoroughly connected with the world even while doing nothing?

Can’t come up with anything? You’re not alone.

We’ve become so used to the hustle culture and lifestyle that even a minute spent without thinking or planning is considered wasted. The constant barrage of information and the easy availability of content, be it movies, books or TV shows, makes it impossible to truly disconnect from the world.

But, did you know, that the constant connectedness and seeking validity from productiveness is harming our bodies both physically and mentally? Gen Z and younger generations are already rebelling against this and it’s time we normalise the art of doing nothing.

And this is where the Dutch lifestyle practice of ‘Niksen’ comes into play.

Dutch people regularly top the ‘Happiest People In The World’ lists because they’ve truly mastered the art of doing nothing, or ‘Niksen’. Like the Danish ‘Hygge’ or the Japanese ‘Ikigai’, ‘Niksen’ is also a lifestyle practice that essentially encourages people to find time for themselves.

Niksen is a word used by the Dutch to encapsulate the activity of doing nothing. It encourages people to let their minds wander as they do nothing.

Woman sitting on a bench©Unsplash

Why should you practice ‘Niksen’?

We’re living in a world that’s riddled with crises, be it war or climate change. With the increasingly bleak headlines from around the world paired with our fast-paced lifestyles, it’s no surprise that so many of us are experiencing, or heading towards, burnout.

Incorporating ‘Niksen’ in our lives can help us unwind in ways that allow us to feel like a person again and not just someone who has to be of value to others. The practice celebrates the joy of doing nothing and letting the world move past you. It allows you to take out small moments of peace within your day where you just exist and do not think about tasks, deadlines, or the world being on fire.

What is the difference between ‘Niksen’ and mindfulness?

While, on the surface, ‘Niksen’ might remind you of mindfulness, a practice that asks you to be actively present in the moment, it’s pretty different. While practising ‘Niksen’, you need to let your mind wander and do nothing to anchor it back to any activity. Mindfulness, on the other hand, can only be practised if you’re present in the moment and are engaging with the world around you.

Woman lying down on a field of grass©Unsplash

How to practice ‘Niksen’?

It can be daunting to even think about doing nothing even if that’s something we all dream about while dealing with endless deadlines and our daily stress. However, you don’t have to do anything big to start off on your ‘Niksen’ journey.

Woman staring out of the window©Pexels

You can take some time out of your day to just lie down on your bed and listen to music as your mind wanders. Or you can head to your nearest park or window and stare at the view without doing anything. You can also go for a silent walk and disengage from the world for some time. The key is to do something that doesn’t require much thought. Or better yet, not do anything and practice the true essence of ‘Niksen’.

This is not a revolutionary trend that requires you to make big changes to your lifestyle. It only asks you to occasionally press pause on your day and just let yourself be. And doesn’t that sound peaceful?