Niksen: the wellbeing benefits of doing nothing


I don’t know about you, but I enjoyed the slower pace of life during lockdown. Without all the running around to kid’s sports activities, social commitments and work commutes there has been space to allow for deeper, creative thinking and time for regular relaxation which has certainly made a positive impact on my health. Now as lockdown restrictions ease, we will all get propelled back into a faster pace of work and social activity and as a result we might all start craving some of that slower pace that lockdown afforded us. It’s time to introduce Niksen into our lives.


What is niksen?


It means to do nothing, to be idle or to do something without purpose. It’s the opposite of being productive and historically it has been known as being lazy. However, it is now being reframed as another wellbeing tool to help reduce stress and to enjoy small pauses in our busy schedules for a happier life. Niksen could be lying in the sun, listening to music, floating in the sea, sitting by the fire, flicking through a picture book, or sipping a coffee and staring out the window. It’s about relaxing and just being, whereas mindfulness is about being present and noticing the details of something in that moment of time.


Benefits of practicing niksen

  • Slowing down reduces stress and anxiety and related symptoms such as digestive issues, headaches and heart issues.

  • Doing nothing allows space for creative ideas to emerge.

  • Our brains will still be processing information even when we are doing nothing, so niksen can help with working through problems and issues.

  • Regular relaxation through niksen helps boost productivity when you are working because it recharges us physically and mentally.


How to practice niksen

  • Firstly, make space in your diary for niksen. This could be as little as 10 mins a day or an hour a week.

  • Secondly, prepare yourself by doing something that will help lead you into downtime such as going for a walk, reading a short inspirational piece of writing, writing in a journal, doing some breathing or other gentle exercise such as yoga or tai chi. This step is particularly important if you find it hard to relax.

  • Once you are relaxed, then just find a comfortable space and position and do nothing. Allow your mind to wander of its own accord.


Further resources


Carolien Janssen, Niksen: The Dutch Art of Doing Nothing

Annette Lavrijsen, Niksen: The Dutch Art of Doing Nothing

Olga Mecking, Niksen: Embracing The Dutch Art of Doing Nothing



Over to you


How will you do niksen?


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