What is Niksen?
Niksen is a philosophy of life originating in the Netherlands, centered on the importance of inaction.
Not to be confused with procrastination, which is often associated with the guilt of putting off tasks, niksen is the deliberate act of giving ourselves a well-deserved break from our often overloaded days.
In Dutch culture, niksen is not considered laziness but a form of well-being.
It’s a practice that reminds us that we don’t always have to be productive or busy. It’s about giving ourselves moments of respite, contemplation, daydreaming, or simply breathing.
At a time when we’re constantly on the go with notifications, e-mails, and obligations, niksen is a response to this overstimulation.
It invites us to put aside our smartphones, switch off our computers, and immerse ourselves in the present moment.
It’s a way of reconnecting with ourselves, regaining inner balance, and cultivating a Zen state of mind.
Niksen vs. other wellness concepts
Over the years, different cultures have introduced to the world unique philosophies for improving well-being and quality of life.
These concepts, though different in their approaches, all share a common goal: to promote a more balanced and serene life.
Danish hygge, for example, is a philosophy focused on creating a warm, comfortable atmosphere.
It’s about savoring life’s little pleasures, whether it’s a cup of hot tea, a cozy blanket, or the glow of a candle.
Hygge encourages people to find comfort in simplicity and to feel at home, wherever they may be.
Swedish lagom, on the other hand, is the art of finding the perfect balance. Not too much, not too little.
It’s about living in moderation, constantly seeking a balance between work and rest, consumption and sustainability.
Lagom reminds us of the importance of moderation and gratitude.
In comparison, the Dutch niksen is distinguished by its purity and simplicity.
Rather than actively seeking comfort or balance, niksen invites us to stop completely. It’s not a question of meditating or reflecting, but simply of “doing nothing”.
Why should you adopt Niksen?
1 – Benefits for the brain
Our brain, that incredible biological machine, is in constant activity.
Every day, it processes a phenomenal amount of information, whether through our work, the media, social interactions, or even the most mundane tasks.
In the long term, this constant strain can lead to mental fatigue, stress, and a reduced ability to concentrate.
The niksen, by offering deliberate moments of pause, gives our brains the opportunity to regenerate.
Just as a muscle needs rest after exertion, our brain benefits greatly from these moments of “nothing”.
These breaks allow our minds to detach from constant stimuli, reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) levels, and enter a state of deep relaxation.
What’s more, these niksen moments can stimulate creativity. When our minds wander aimlessly, they can make unexpected connections, leading to innovative ideas or solutions to persistent problems.
This is often referred to as “shower epiphanies”, where ideas arise when our mind is relaxed and free from distraction.
Finally, niksen can also improve our memory and learning capacity.
By giving our brains time to consolidate and organize information, we strengthen neural connections and facilitate memorization.
In short, niksen is not only good for our emotional well-being but also for our brain’s health and performance.
It’s a practice that, though simple, has the power to transform our daily lives and improve our quality of life.
2 – Reducing stress
Stress, often referred to as the “disease of the century”, has become a constant in many people’s lives.
Whether linked to work, relationships, the environment, or the demands of modern life, stress can have devastating consequences on our mental and physical health.
It can lead to sleep disorders, anxiety, reduced immunity, and many other health problems.
Faced with this reality, niksen is a breath of fresh air.
By inviting us to do nothing, this practice enables us to take a step back from sources of stress.
It’s a time for disconnecting from daily concerns, setting aside to-do lists, and immersing ourselves in the present moment.
By giving ourselves these breaks, we offer our mind and body a chance to regenerate.
These moments of relaxation increase the production of endorphins, often referred to as the “happy hormones”.
The result? A feeling of well-being, a better mood, and an enhanced ability to cope with everyday challenges.
What’s more, niksen helps us develop greater self-awareness.
By taking the time to listen to ourselves, we can identify the sources of our stress and work to alleviate them.
It’s an essential step towards living a more balanced, zen life, in harmony with our needs and desires.
How can you integrate Niksen into your life?
1 – Create dedicated moments
In the hectic pace of our modern lives, taking time out for ourselves can sometimes seem like a luxury.
However, taking breaks is not only good for our well-being, it’s essential for our mental and physical health.
This is where the niksen comes in like a lifeline.
It’s crucial to set aside dedicated times during the day to practice niksen. These breaks can be short, like a simple 5-minute deep breath away from screens, or longer, like an hour spent simply contemplating nature or losing yourself in thought.
To integrate niksen into your daily routine, here are a few tips:
- Plan your breaks: Just as you plan your meetings or activities, set aside time in your diary for niksen. This could be after a particularly demanding task, or at a time when you know you’ll need a break.
- Disconnect: During your niksen moments, set aside your phone, computer, and other distractions. The aim is to give yourself a mental space where you can really disconnect and recharge.
- Be kind to yourself: If you find it hard to stop and “do nothing”, don’t be too hard on yourself. Like any new habit, niksen takes practice. Over time, you’ll find it easier to immerse yourself in these moments of pause.
Ultimately, niksen is not just a wellness trend, but a necessity in our modern world.
By allowing yourself these moments of relaxation, you’re investing in your health, well-being, and happiness.
2 – Adopt a conducive environment
The practice of niksen is first and foremost a state of mind, but the environment in which you choose to indulge in this break can greatly influence its effectiveness.
Although niksen can be practiced in any situation or location, optimizing your environment can multiply the benefits felt tenfold.
- Choose the right place: Find a place where you feel comfortable and safe. This could be a quiet corner of your home, a garden, a nearby park or even a dedicated meditation space. The important thing is that this place is free from distractions and conducive to relaxation.
- Play with lighting: Light can greatly influence our mood. If possible, opt for natural light. When this isn’t possible, opt for subdued lighting. Candles can also add a soothing touch and create a warm atmosphere.
- Incorporate natural elements: Elements such as plants, water or stones can help create a serene atmosphere. A small fountain or aquarium can bring the gentle sound of water, known for its relaxing properties.
- Think about the music: If total silence isn’t your thing, opt for soft, soothing music. Sounds of nature, such as birdsong or the sound of waves, can also be an excellent option.
Time management and productivity are essential to success in both the professional and personal worlds.
However, it’s just as crucial to take time out to recharge your batteries.
The niksen is one such practice that, if properly mastered, can transform your daily life.
If you are interested in the topic of productivity, I invite you to discover all my articles on productivity.
If you are looking for tools to improve your time management skills, I recommend you read my article on the best time management apps.
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