Over Christmas, I received a very interesting present from my older sister. A book about doing nothing. In other words, ‘Niksen’, as the Dutch call it. A way to clear your mind and help reduce the stresses in your life. Throughout my college and university experience, when it comes to mental health, you constantly hear about how amazing mindfulness is. How fantastic it is for anxiety and just clearing your head. But, would mastering the art of Niksen also do this, just in a different way?
What is Niksen?
Niksen is all about slowing down and stopping. With a busy everyday life, Niksen has the philosophy of taking time out to do absolutely nothing. No television, or reading to pass the time. Nothing. In our heavily industrialised world, it is incredibly easy to get carried away with a heavy workload, or even procrastination. There is no goal, per se, with Niksen. Niksen is just an unmeasured amount of time left for one to do nothing and to release themselves from the constraints of modern life. Niksen is a Dutch concept promoting wellness and happiness that is gaining more popularity alongside the idea of mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
The practise of Mindfulness is more commonly used by the general public as a way to take a break. Often practised alongside yoga or light meditation, mindfulness is about paying attention and thinking about the present– not the past or future. This method is often suggested for those who feel overwhelmed or conquered by their surroundings. Mindfulness encourages people to take a step out of their lives and in a sense, look back on themselves as a way to ground their emotions. With plenty of apps walking people through mindfulness routines, it has become easy to access this chill-out technique.
The main difference between both of these relaxation methods is that Niksen encourages a blank, clear mind whereas mindfulness involves using thought processes and thinking to calm one down. Depending on your personality, one may work better than the other. But, although one may be easier to do than the other, it may not mean it is the most beneficial for you. If you have a busy non-stop mind, Mindfulness will allow you to gain that sense of control back in your mind. However, maybe you may benefit more from clearing the mind completely by doing nothing at all?
This is purely imagined, of course, I cannot say what would be better for you in this article or even based on a random scenario. That is something for you to decide. But, what I would suggest is trying both and not just one or the other. It is important to acknowledge that both are hard techniques to start and implement in life. It can be hard to find the time or even feel comfortable and calm stopping to do nothing for Niksen. But it can also be hard to stop and only think about the present, and not the past or future, ifs and buts with Mindfulness.
Practise Makes Perfect
As someone who tried to implement both in my life, I can see positives from doing both techniques. Once you get the hang of doing nothing and remove the guilt from just having a break from life, Niksen brings an element of peace and perspective to your world. Mindfulness, however, is a great technique in my opinion to reduce anxiety. Making yourself think of the now, and checking in with your mind and body helps bring down those ever-rising anxiety levels and brings that sense of control back into your life. With such a continuously busy life that many of us have, I think it is important to take a second for yourself. Whether it is through Niksen, Mindfulness or something else completely. It is important to take care of yourself and take a break.