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Carve Out A Space For Niksen, The Art Of Doing Nothing

Combat quarantine burnout by tuning out for a few minutes in your own “me space”



Niksen is a Dutch word which means “To do nothing” or “to be idle…” It may comprise of doing something without a purpose, such as staring out the window or listening to music to give the brain time off.


Our minds are constantly preoccupied, and our inner voices persistently prod us to be productive. Evolution has wired humans to be on the lookout for survival, but niksen is also a natural form of being.   Lisanne van Veen of CSR Centrum Stress and Burn-out Coaching Center in the Netherlands says, “If you look at animals, they’re doing nothing until it’s time to eat.”  Hence, the constant effort of a pursuit is not the usual state for any creature.  Alternating between this and relaxation is favorable.

Niksen is Dutch word which means "to do nothing" or "to be idle" | Melanie Anderse via Unsplash


It is recommended that one practices niksen once a day for a few minutes.  For example, observing the sun go down or sitting in your balcony.  It sounds so easy, but staying in the moment for a few minutes can be challenging.  The reward for taking a few minutes off is the mindfulness that comes out of the practice of doing nothing. It’s a form of meditation, if you will.  In a Wooly Magazine article, writer Olga Mecking shares, “[A]s I see it, moments of nothing are almost always worthwhile. It’s during these moments, for instance, that I come up with my best story ideas.”

Practicing niksen once a day for a few minutes is favorable for one's health. Being in the moment may be a challenge, but it yields mindfulness if practiced. | Amber Renae



Niksen During Quarantine


Community quarantine has had its challenges, as all of a sudden, and out of no choice, not only are people working from home. They are also confronted with their hungry and crying children plus the household chores on top of the Zoom meetings they need to attend... all these happening in one space: the home.  In this setting, all of life’s stressors are in one place, leaving one wanting to scream or find a change of perspective. 


Some easy tips to create a space for niksen:


1. Make sure it is not cluttered with the things that will distract you such as your mail, your children's toys, or snacks.

2.  Remove everything that blocks the flow of movement (for example, that side table that you are constantly bumping into).

3.  Pick up everything from the floor that it isn't meant to be there, and put them away in their respective storage spaces.  

4. Locate your "me space" somewhere that offers a view or an open window so you can literally breathe. 

5. If you have the benefit of doing so, get to an indoor-outdoor space such as a patio, a balcony or a lanai.  Being physically away from your work from home area will help ease your tuning out.

6.  If you have no choice but to be indoors, sit where you have a focal point such as a piece of art that can help your mind let go.  If this distracts you, sit where you are facing as much white space as possible.  This will help empty your mind.

7.  Enlist the most comfortable seat at home for your niksen time.  Being relaxed will help you dive into it with ease.

8.  If you can't have a bit of air from the outdoors, and even if you do, bring some plants into your "me space" to improve the quality of air you are breathing.


Combat quarantine burnout by carving your very own space for a few minutes of niksen.  Be inspired by these: