As a writer and creative, there are times where I simply cannot get words on paper. Either my mind is other places, or I’m crunched for time and putting pressure on the output of the article, or piece of content, or creative brief that needs to get done within the next hour. I’ve tried everything to jump start my creative juices: putting on my favorite record, lighting candles, turning on my essential oil diffuser. But sometimes, what’s needed is some time to sit and just be. Turn my brain off. Recharge. Come back to my computer with fresh eyes and fresh thoughts. A recent article in Time informed me that this is actually a thing, and it’s called Niksen.
Niksen is a Dutch term that, in my opinion, needs to be adopted by more Americans. It’s the new “hygge”, and it literally means doing absolutely nothing without purpose. So, sitting idle. Staring out the window. Doing…. nothing. Different than mindfulness and meditation, which is about being present in the moment, Niksen is more about finding time to just be. Let your mind wander, stare out the window, “waste” time, take up space.
So, if there is no purpose behind it, then what’s the ‘why’? With increasing stress levels and a society that just doesn’t seem to slow down and take a break (the whole work hard, play hard mentality), it’s becoming more and more important for us to take time to turn off and be mindless. Studies have shown that slowing down and shutting our minds off, aka practicing Niksen, can not only decrease stress and anxiety, but also slow signs of aging and help your body fight illnesses like the common cold.
No one is suggesting that we practice Niksen all the time or even a lot of the time, but in a world where information and inbound messages are constantly coming at us, 10-15 minutes a day of doing nothing will do wonders for your headspace. Like meditation, experts suggest adding time into your schedule to practice Niksen. I plan on carving out time mid afternoon when I’m feeling tired and overwhelmed to step outside, walk around, take in nature and breathe some fresh air. My goal is to be able to come back to work after this Niksen break feeling rejuvenated so that I can finish up the work day as strong as I started it, rather than pushing through that 2:30 slump and being a shell of my productive self.