In search of a remedy for stress, the Danes came up with hygge, the Swedes with lagom, and the Dutch with Niksen. However, while the first two principles require preparation (buying soft plaids or uncluttering the space), the Dutch anti-stress requires nothing but the person himself.
What Is Niksen
The word niks in Dutch means “nothing” and the ending -en turns it into a verb. That is, niksen can be translated as “do nothing.”
Niksen is literally a philosophy of doing nothing. It doesn’t set goals to rest, relax, or meditate. Niksen implies the absence of goals in principle: to pause life, look out the window, listen to the sounds around, doze off, “hang out”. This is the state in which severely tired people stay (and most of them habitually scold themselves for such passivity).
Inactivity vs. Stress
The Niksen philosophy emerged as a counterbalance to modern multitasking. The frantic pace of life, endless career races and the propaganda of “achievement” have led to the concept of “active person” becoming synonymous with success. Even during the rest, modern people should be productive: during meditation it’s desirable to work with subconsciousness, during jogging, to listen to audio-books, during watching football matches, to try their luck on a bookmaker online betting website. However, you shouldn’t run all the time: the brain, just like the body, needs a break, and when it isn’t there, burnout and stress begin.
According to the sociological company Gallup, in 2021 alone, 32% of those surveyed in 115 countries will have experienced negative emotions: anxiety, sadness and anger. And a 2017 survey by the British newspaper The Mirror found that most of the 2,000 respondents were so stressed out that they couldn’t even have fun and relaxation.
So pausing and doing nothing is a great alternative to the daily stressful hustle and bustle. That said, Niksen has nothing to do with chronic laziness. Niksen is a respite, a temporary idleness necessary to accumulate strength for further achievements.
Benefits of the Niksen Philosophy for the Body and Psyche
Proponents of the Niksen philosophy believe that daily pauses of doing nothing:
- Help fight anxiety and fatigue, replenish energy, and improve sleep quality.
- Are useful for preventing professional burnout.
- Develop creativity and help generate new ideas. After all, even during the seeming inactivity the brain continues to process information and solve existing problems.
How to Understand That Niksen Is What You Need
- You feel constantly tired, even after a weekend.
- You can’t relax while you’re resting and continue to deal with work tasks.
- You notice that your productivity has decreased.
- You don’t sleep well.
- You want to rest, but you don’t know how.
What to Do to Do Nothing
For those who are usually constantly busy doing something, even five minutes of inactivity seems unbearable. That’s why the hardest part is learning not to feel ashamed of doing nothing.
Include time of inactivity in the usual schedule, schedule it. Adepts of the Niksen philosophy recommend making regular pauses of 15-30 minutes during the day, and if there is a lot of stress – at least 50 minutes. Beginners can start with five minutes.
Here’s what you can do:
- Contemplate: look out the window or at the sky, look at patterns on wallpaper or people on public transportation.
- Listen: birdsong, wind noise, instrumental music without words.
- Create: to knit, to paint, to model. Thus creativity should not have an ultimate goal (for example, to knit a sweater or to make a figure completely). It’s necessary to immerse oneself in the process and relax to the monotonous knocking of needles or the tactile sensations of plasticine.
- Play simple puzzles, solve solitaire, assemble easy puzzles. Without strategies, competition, or excitement.
- Walk around without a goal.
A great advantage of the Niksen philosophy is that you can give your brain and body a rest anywhere. Sooner or later you will learn to pause spontaneously: for example, during a subway ride or during a lunch break at work.
Try to master nixen right now: close your laptop, make tea and drink it in small sips, thinking about nothing but the taste of the drink.