When was the last time you did nothing, really did nothing? Not absently scroll through your phone, or watch some escapist reality TV, we mean really sit down without any other distractions and just … be.
In a digital world that seemingly never sleeps, even when we think we are doing nothing, most of the time, we are doing something. But the Dutch seem to have mastered the art of truly doing nothing. Enter Niksen, the latest lifestyle trend.
Following in the footsteps of Hygge, the cosy Danish trend that made homes cosy and staying in cool, Niksen is gaining traction in Northern Europe and around the world, and it's easy to see why.
Millennial burnout is now being recognised as a genuine condition, brought on by the generation's inability to switch off, thanks largely to our smartphones and constant access to emails and social media.
Evening when many people do have downtime, they feel as if they should be filling that downtime by doing something productive, whether it’s a side project, a hobby, or just finding the time to socialise with friends and family.
But Niksen is promoting the art of really switching off, doing nothing and taking some proper time for yourself.
What is Niksen?
Niksen is a Dutch word which means to do nothing; "to be idle or doing something without any use," Carolien Hamming, managing director of CSR Centrum, a coaching center in the Netherlands, told Time.
Practicing Niksen could mean just sitting still and taking in your surroundings, losing yourself in thought, or listening to music.
It differs from mindfulness, which encourages those who practice to be present in the moment, in that it encourages you to relax and be with your thoughts, wherever they may take you.
In the Netherlands, many people who are suffering from burnout are being encouraged to consider building Niksen into their routines, giving themselves allocated time in which they can be free from any commitments or obligations.
The benefits of Niksen
While in the past Niksen had been dismissed and associated with laziness and counter-productivity, as stress levels continue to rise, it is now being hailed as a remedy.
Of course, it is not practical to practice Niksen all the time, and doing so would actually have a negative impact on your life, but taking small breaks for yourself can lead to a number of emotional benefits, such as a reduction in anxiety.
Many people who practice Niksen also report a boost in creativity levels. Giving the mind a chance to wander can often lead to new ideas or thought patterns which would be otherwise suppressed when our minds are focused on other distractions.
Finding a way to practice Niksen that suits you is what is important, experts say. Whether it’s going for a walk through nature or relaxing in a dark room, the important thing is changing your mindset to allow yourself time to do nothing without a pressing feeling of guilt, something that, in 2019, we could all surely use.