Niksen: The Art of Doing Nothing

Lifespan Blog Team
What is Niksen?

Do you find yourself dealing with competing priorities, social media channels that never stop, and the pressure to always be available? You’re not alone.

Most cultures have their own traditions and approaches to well-being.  Some old practices such as yoga or the Danish hygge have made their way to America and are enjoyed by many.

In these days when “I’m so busy” has become the mantra of the masses, it’s time to embrace something that will give us what we seem to be craving – a balance in our lives. Something that encourages us to just do nothing may seem like a welcome port in a raging storm. That’s where Niksen comes in.

What is Niksen

The website dutchreview.com explains it as follows: “Niksen means doing nothing or, more specifically, performing an action without a clear purpose or a deadline. For instance, for the Dutchies, looking out the window as people pass or going to the beach to stare at the waves for a while is considered niksen. And by doing so, they obtain a state of calmness, of tranquility that they really like.”

Niksen is a great form of mindfulness. With all the technology and noise that surround us, and the stressors we find in everyday life there are many reasons to approach life more mindfully. One of the benefits is better overall wellness and improved mood.  

Doing nothing is a good thing

Perhaps it is a sign of the times we live in, but for many,  the thought of doing nothing just seems wrong. We could all list the things we think we need to do or should be doing. And of course we all have responsibilities in life.

It’s hard to do something that we are trained to not do. We are taught to be motivated and goal-oriented, productive and successful. But no one ever said that we should be busy every waking minute.

Niksen can be thought of as a way to clear your mind. Give yourself a reprieve and step away from everything, just for a few minutes. Don’t think, just be.

Some say that this simple act of clearing your mind to purposefully not think can also lead to creativity as well. In a column in Psychology Today, its author notes that she assigns five minutes of Niksen a day as a homework assignment in her mindfulness meditation class.  What’s interesting is that she finds that people are less apt to do five minutes of “nothing” than 20 minutes of something.

The fact is, self-care should be a priority. There is no harm in taking a step back and just letting yourself be. Don’t do it for any reason other than for the sake of just existing.

Schedule some time for Niksen into your day. Once it’s part of your schedule, it might feel more natural to you. And once you find how good Niksen makes you feel, you might be inclined do more of nothing.

For more tips on mindfulness, visit the Being section of our Lifespan Living health and wellness blog.

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