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Niksen : how to de-stress the Dutch way

Pandemic aside, we all are aware of how life has become increasingly stressful. Running from one appointment to another, feeling guilty because the annoying « to do list »  is not entirely crossed out or cramming a jog or yoga class despite being exhausted. We feel obligated to spend every second of our free time doing something productive. Our addiction to digital devices exacerbates the overload. This lifestyle leads to an increasing state of anxiety, which in turn can provoke a burnout or in extreme cases increase the risk of a stroke.

The Dutch, who are known for their straightforwardness and « to the point » attitude have found a pragmatic answer to deal with their stress. Introducing Niksen, a Dutch word for « doing nothing ». This concept encourages stress management by, well simply doing nothing. Absolutely nothing. 

Sure, it sounds simple enough but is it ?

Imagine sitting still for a while, putting your phone down and daydreaming. According to anti-stress expert at CRS Centrum, Carolien Hamming, niksen involves « doing something without a purpose, like staring out of a window or listening to music ». As you gaze out of the window, your thoughts dissolve leaving a peaceful feeling.

Niksen is an increasing popular relaxing technique where you relinquish control and just go with the flow. When thoughts occur, you don’t interrogate them. Similar to meditative practices, niksen is even simpler. You stop immediately, on the spot, whatever you are doing and let yourself drift into a daydreaming mode.

This Dutch wellness concept embraces purposeful idleness. It is as straightforward as it sounds. You can actually actively engage in doing nothing, not feel guilty as if it’s a waste of time. As studies have shown daydreaming and letting your mind wander increases creativity

Effortlessly simpler than therapy, meditation or yoga, niksen gives your mind a brief break by purposefully doing nothing. As you allow your mind to wander aimlessly, you let yourself « Be ».

However learning how to do nothing should not be mistaken for laziness or even boredom. It’s all about freeing yourself from the daily grind of work, family demands and social pressure, to de-stress and just stop for a short moment. 

So go on, give it a try next time you feel a little overwhelmed or even underwhelmed for that matter. Simply think Dutch. You’d be surprised by the effect of the timeout on your wellbeing. And it’s so simple to do.

Photographs from www.desenio.co.uk