While there is no shortage of hip European lifestyle trends to partake in — hygge has skyrocketed to popularity — we would like to turn your attention to a new concept: niksen.
Born in the Netherlands, niksen (pronounced nick-sin) is a Dutch word that literally translates to “doing nothing.”And while it might sound a bit lazy, the concept of niksen is making major waves in wellness communities across the globe for an assortment of health-related reasons: Americans are increasingly starting to see the practice as a purposeful way to combat all kinds of work-related health issues, particularly stress, fatigue, and burnout. At its core, it is a stress-reducer.
Unlike the Danish concept of “hygge” that emphasizes coziness, and Swedish “lagom” that encourages living a more balanced life, niksen supports slowing your brain down periodically throughout the day by doing nothing — i.e. looking out a window, daydreaming or listening to music — on purpose.
And while it may remind you of mindfulness, niksen is not about staying in the moment and being conscious of your surroundings — it is about allowing your mind to wander without guilt or expectation.
It is about allowing your mind to wander without guilt or expectation.
What Are the Benefits of Niksen?
Research suggests that practicing niksen for short periods of time throughout the day can reduce anxiety, strengthen the immune system and even slow down physical signs of aging — aka frown lines and other stress-related wrinkles — because it forces our brains and bodies to take some small, but much-needed, moratoriums.
It also might make you more productive than you think. For example, a 2012 study on the pros and cons of a wandering mind showed that niksen-style processes can help an individual get inspired about achieving their goals — and gain clarity about the actions they need to take in order to achieve them.
How Can I Make My Home More Niksen-Friendly?
Doing nothing on purpose is not as easy as it sounds. Here are eight ways to make your home the perfect sanctuary to practice niksen.
Switch up your layout. Your surroundings can have a big impact on your ability to do nothing. Rearrange your furniture so that you can look out the window for a while without much effort, or if you are lucky enough to have a fireplace, make a small nook around it with cushions and throws so you have a snug spot to go check out in.
Keep your devices out of reach. When it comes to relaxing your mind and body, your smart devices are not doing you any favors. Keep your phone, tablet and other electronics tucked away from sight for a short period of time when you are at home to slow down your thoughts (and give your brain and fingers a break).
Invest in extra comfy seating. Nothing makes your brain shut off faster than a plush sofa or armchair to veg out on. Take care to invest in extra comfortable seating for your space — think overstuffed loveseats, floor cushions and plenty of soft throws to snuggle up with — to make being unproductive a breeze.
Employ aromatherapy. It is no secret that certain scents, including lavender, chamomile and bergamot, have the power to relieve stress and relax the body. Fill your diffuser with lavender essential oil to help your brain decompress at the end of the day or light a geranium-infused candle to naturally reduce your anxiety.
Have a relaxing playlist ready. Much like scent, soothing sounds can also naturally help our minds and bodies relax. Make a playlist with some of your favorite slow tempo songs and queue it up whenever you take time to unwind and do nothing at home.
Pick a calming color palette. If you are not already familiar with color therapy, then now is the time to smarten up. Research shows that certain hues, like soothing blues and peaceful neutrals versus stimulating reds, can actually have calming psychological effects on the mind and body. So stick with a cool and calm color palette to make your home more niksen-friendly.
Purify the air. Clean air promotes better breathing patterns, which in turn makes doing nothing a whole lot healthier — and easier since deep breathing can naturally slow your brain and body down. Invest in a quality air purifier for your home to improve the air quality as well as your breathing, and do not forget that houseplants can naturally clean your indoor air, too.
Host a niksen party. If you are struggling to be idle on your own, consider hosting a niksen party to force yourself to zone out. Invite a few equally exhausted friends over to your home for a set amount of time so you can all hang out — and do nothing — together.
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