Permission To Do Nothing: The Dutch Concept of 'Niksen'
Find yourself anxious about filling your day with activities, projects, and basically other things to do? It's high time you give that idea, and yourself, a rest. Welcome to the trend of doing nothing.
If there's anything the quarantine has done, it has definitely got us thinking about all the things we want to accomplish, to revisit, and to start doing. Productivity during the COVID-19 lockdown has been a common theme for weeks now—seeing our friends, family, and social media connections embark on personal projects they haven't had the time for since forever. Trying new recipes, finishing books and movies, working out, baking bread, planting, the list goes on.
While all this is absolutely admirable, the downside of it is that some people may not be able to keep up with the productivity level and the pressure they feel while being in this uncertain, anxiety-inducing phase in time. It's a heavy enough burden already to have to worry about the virus, but to worry about being productive too, adds to the problem at hand.
With this, we'd like to introduce the concept of giving yourself the permission to do nothing. Sound too good to be true? The Dutch don't seem to think so.
According to TIME, this Dutch concept basically means to do literally nothing, to be idle, or to just spend time doing something of no purpose. These days, injecting some Niksen into our lives could actually be a great idea, especially if you feel like you are nearing burn out, despite having to just stay inside the house.
Doing nothing seems harder than it sounds though. Because of our 'always on' culture, we've become so used to filling in every minute of the day with something to do, whether it's to scroll endlessly through our smartphone or to find something to be productive about. We have become obsessed with filling our to-do lists, and constantly need to find a sense of achievement when we cross things off of it.
Again, productivity in itself isn't bad. It's the side effect of the pressure to be productive all the time that's taking a toll on our mental and physical health. With this, we must begin to combat it by lessening our things to do, by embracing times in the day devoid of any activity, and letting our minds rest for a change.
And not to mistake Niksen for being lazy, this time should be spent resting our brains from going on mindlessly with 1000 thoughts per second, but rather training it to just be. In the same TIME article, it was mentioned that "as stress levels climb in the U.S. and globally and their crushing health impacts, like burnout, are getting more recognition from the medical community, doing nothing is increasingly being framed as a positive, stress-fighting tactic."
Find a space in your house for Niksen, preferably with a window, or some place relaxing and quiet, so you can center in, let go of all distractions, and just be. Start with 5 minutes, 10, and work your way up to however long you want it to be, so you get back to your activities refreshed and ready to go.
Spend this time just enjoying your surroundings, day dreaming, and subconsciously processing creative ideas that could be buried in your mind, covered up by the day's thoughts. Spend this time to just be.
In the following video, it is explained how Niksen does wonders to the human body:
Enjoy doing nothing today!