Play sports, test new recipes, make your bread, sorting your clothes, repainting your living room, having aperitifs … In constant search for activities to keep busy during your forties, you come to forget an almost essential art: that of doing nothing. In the Netherlands, the Dutch have a word to describe this idleness: the niksen. After the hygge, the Danish art of living which invites you to sit in front of the fireplace with a plaid and a steaming cup of tea and the Swedish lagom based on simplicity and moderation in its consumption, the Niksen advocates the art of doing nothing. A new Nordic trend with many benefits!
What is niksen?
In Dutch, Niks literally means “nothing”. It’s simple, practicing niksen therefore consists of doing nothing and ceasing all productive activity. “Niksen literally means doing nothing, being idle or doing something uninteresting”, decrypted with Time Carolien Hamming, director of CSR Centrum, a Dutch coaching center that helps clients manage stress and treat burn-out. This manifests itself in different ways like looking out the window, sitting on the couch or listening to music, as long as it has no purpose. “We should have these moments of relaxation, which can be combined with easy, semi-automatic activities such as knitting”, explains Ruut Veenhoven, sociologist specializing in happiness and professor at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam, at Time.
This concept joins that of “slow life” where slowing down and disconnecting would be happier. In France, one can quickly assimilate this idleness to “gland”, rather perceived as negative. But the Dutch assume these moments of laziness without experiencing an ounce of guilt. The goal: improve their well-being and reduce daily stress.
What are the advantages of niksen?
On paper, the niksen seems rather easy to set up. Yet doing nothing can be a real challenge, moreover in a society where activity and productivity are widely valued. In his work Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation, Anne Helen Petersen finds that this the need to optimize every second of our life would be particularly present among millennials, sometimes leading them to burnout. Used to performing two tasks at the same time and making the most of their free time, millennials are incapable of staying idle without feeling guilty. What if you don’t care? These niksen times allow you to take a step back to assess what is really important and take a break and relax.
Glander is just as beneficial for your body as it is for your mind. Eve Ekman, a researcher at the University of Berkeley whose work focuses on stress and burnout, explains that these breaks reduce anxiety and stress, slow the aging process and strengthen the immune system. This Dutch concept would even help stimulate your creativity and be more productive in the long run.
How to practice niksen on a daily basis?
Start by taking a few minutes a day to practice niksen, 10 or 15 minutes is enough at first. Watching the sky through the window, listening to music, settling on the sofa or knitting or coloring … Let your mind wander and welcome the flow of your thoughts without thinking.
Stay away from the screens (doing nothing in front of the TV doesn’t count) and savor these moments of break. Little by little, you will be able to integrate niksen into your daily routine and spread it over longer periods, why not one evening a week without an appointment or obligations. Just you, rid of all guilt, phone cut off. Because chiller, It is good for the healt.