Last week I waxed lyrical about hygge – the delicious Danish tradition of getting cozy. This week, I bring you another wonderful Scandi concept – niksen – which translates as “the art of doing nothing”. Here’s how perfecting this skill could massively boost your health…
This wonderfully relaxing and simplistic concept emerged from the Netherlands a few years ago with the aim to help reduce the stresses and strains of everyday life. In today’s ever-busy, switched-on world, it’s never been more important to take a step back and embrace the idea of doing absolutely diddlysquat. And let’s face it, there’s never been a better time to embrace it. With local lockdowns and restrictions aplenty putting paid to our plans, doing nothing should be easy, right?
Allowing yourself time to sit with your own thoughts, to truly relax and restore, is crucial for aiding stress relief and improving your mental wellbeing. In theory, switching off shouldn’t be that difficult, yet it’s something we humans often fail to master. Even when we have no plans, it can feel near impossible to do absolutely nothing. We’re so consumed by FOMO – fear of missing out – that we often see doing nothing as negative, lazy even. However, despite its idle meaning, there’s nothing lazy about the powerful impact niksen can have on your mental wellbeing.
Hit me with the benefits
Taking time to do nothing and letting your thoughts flow freely not only helps to reduce stress and anxiety but is also said to boost productivity and creativity, too. Studies have found that the process of letting your mind wander can leave you feeling inspired about achieving your goals and gift you the clarity you need to actually work out how to achieve them.
It sounds kinda similar to mindfulness…
We hear ya! However, while mindfulness encourages you to be present in the moment, niksen asks you to do quite the opposite – to lose yourself and let things go without having to focus on anything in particular. In essence, you should allow boredom to happen and stop viewing it negatively. Being busy has somehow become a badge of honor. While sitting around with nothing to do almost feel’s shameful, niksen is turning that on its head, taking the idea of simplicity and quality of life to a blissful new level. I often refer to it as JOMO – the joy of missing out!
Get some niksen in your life
Experts suggest you should practice niksen as often as you need, but try to make a little time every day – half an hour is ideal. Here are a couple of tips to get you started…
It might seem odd to suggest doing absolutely nothing while at work, but a spot of niksen on your lunch break could be just the ticket. Even when you’re doing nothing, your brain is processing information. The idea is that when it’s allowed to relax and recharge, solutions, ideas and creative concepts come to you more freely when you get back to it.
There are very few activities you can do while practicing niksen, but crafting is one of them. Just make sure the task you’re doing requires minimal effort – it has to be something you can do on autopilot to allow yourself that headspace for a bit of daydreaming. The repetitive motion of knitting, for example, allows you to lose yourself in your own thoughts and let your mind wander.
By its very nature, being in bed suggests you’re at the perfect point of doing nothing. This is the ideal time for niksen. So why not put down your book, switch off your phone and let your thoughts run away with you as you lie in bed? It might even help you drift off to sleep.
Anywhere at all
Ultimately, niksen should ideally be done when you have nothing else to do and with no other distractions at all. So simply sit back on the sofa, or in the garden and relax. Don’t lift a finger. Gaze into the distance and just be calm. It’s this pursuit of nothingness that makes niksen so unique.