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Try 'niksen' - the Dutch art of doing nothing

The last year has brought us plenty of opportunity to try new things – we’ve taken up running, cycling, crafting, reading, quizzing, baking and much more to fill our pandemic days with activity. But what if we let all that go every once in a while, and actually did… nothing at all?

While we’re all stuck at home with nowhere to go, it’s especially common to hear ‘I’ve done nothing today’ – but how true is that? How often do we sit down and do nothing – not sticking the dishwasher on, not watching telly, not scrolling Instagram. Just nothing! It’s pretty rare, even at the moment. But the art of doing nothing is a thing in countries like The Netherlands, with the concept of ‘niksen’.  

‘Niksen’ literally means ‘to do nothing’ in Dutch, and it’s a way to tune out the stress and anxiety of life. The idea is to ‘idle’ – you could sit and watch the world go by or listen to music. As long as your activity has no purpose, that’s niksen. 
Of course, it’s hard to actually do nothing. The pull of social media is strong and you might feel like you need to occupy your hands – you can ease yourself into the idea by doing something relaxing like knitting. The key is to do it without thinking, and just allow your mind to wander. Some ‘gateway’ activities to niksen could be walking in nature or writing a letter of gratitude. 
Studies on things like burnout have shown that slowing down and doing less has many benefits to our health. If you’re hectic and overburdened, taking some time to sit and do nothing could reduce anxiety and even help you fight the common cold. Research around the concept of niksen has also shown that it could help you come up with new ideas and solve problems. Allowing our minds to wander and daydream can prompt business breakthroughs and boost creative thoughts. 
Practising niksen a few times a week could help you become more imaginative – similar to how young children play freely and without boundaries, letting your mind roam free gives it the space to think bigger.

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