The other day, I found myself sitting on my own and “by my own” I mean with Tank my little side kick. I wasn’t’ doing much of anything. Just enjoying the sound of the rain. I had already journaled, did some housework and made lunch for Steve…so I just kicked back and rested…wasting time, doing nothing.
I picked up my computer and started reading some emails that I had saved under ‘read later’. This was later. I came across an article about purposefully doing nothing and the health benefits of it. This was amazing information for me. I thought wow!! I can do this. This thing called nothing. I can do it with my eyes closed. I can do it anywhere, wearing anything…this was doable!!!
As it turns out Dutch people (and Tank) are some of the happiest people (dogs) on earth and they have perfected the art of doing nothing so much, that it has a name: Niksen.
I wish I had of known this when I was a kid in school. My report card mentioned more than once that my head was in the clouds and I needed to pay more attention. If only I could have told them I was practicing the art of Niksen!
I read about this article on the Blue Zone website. I encourage you to hop onto their site. They have so many great articles about living your best life. I have written about the Blue Zones in past posts. You can read about it HERE
If you practice the choice of doing nothing at all it can help decrease your anxiety. It can be anti-aging. It can help you overcome burn out and even the common cold. The key is to do it without purpose and not because you are trying to achieve something or be productive.
Have you ever come up with a great idea while you were sitting gazing out a window? That eureka moment was probably brought about while you were unknowingly practicing Niksen. Boosting productivity and bringing creativity to the surface is scientifically proven to be brought on by Niksen.
It is a mindless relaxation. Not exactly like the art of meditation…quite the opposite. When we practice meditation we are being mindful of clearing our minds which sounds counterintuitive and is perhaps one reason why so many people have a difficult time mediating. Instead when we practice niksen we are allowing our brain to be rewired with a sort of mindlessness. You can be sitting enjoying a cup of tea while listening to the rain or the birds and actually embrace the sounds instead of trying to block them out as you would while meditating.
The hardest part of allowing your mind to wonder aimlessly is the feeling of guilt that you should be doing something more productive. Purposefully setting time aside to enjoy this mind freeing time can help you overcome the guilt. Be sure to set your cell phone aside so that it is not a distraction. The rest is easy. Put your feet up, clasp your hands behind your head and maybe gaze up to the sky letting the sun warm your face….just enjoy whatever sensation you have created. Soak in the sounds provided by Mother Nature or the sound of a crackling fire. Everyone’s idea of relaxing is different. Mine is exactly as I just described while Steve’s would be walking while enjoying music. As long as it is mindless. There is nothing to overthink….you simply ‘be’.
As stress levels continue to soar in North America the art of doing nothing is gaining more and more recognition from the medical community as a stress-fighting tactic.
If this all sounds just too easy…well you are probably right. With the good comes the bad.. So what IS the downside of ‘Niks’?
It’s actually not THAT bad!! Apparently it’s just not practical to practice Niksen constantly which is probably what my teachers were getting at 😂 One researcher suggests that although rest is functional and makes one feel better it is not a main way to happiness in the sense of life satisfaction. People who participate in more productive activities tend to be happier due to a more robust social connection and a stronger sense of self efficacy as per THIS study. Having uncontrolled thoughts can magnify depression.
So, will doing nothing increase our feelings of happiness? At a coaching centre in the Netherlands people experiencing stress and burnout reported decreased feelings of stress and increased happiness when they practised niksen on a regular basis….and that is the study I am choosing to listen to. So the next time someone makes a comment about me wasting my time I will happily respond that I am actually very busy practicing the art of doing nothing at all. 😉
Like most things in life it’s all about balance.
How is dry January going for me?
This is what I have noticed so far…
- I am definitely losing some belly bulge.
- I am sleeping better. Less trips to the bathroom
- I have more energy in the day. Probably related to the sleeping situation.
- 💩 is great!! Having Colitis; this is a big deal for me 😊
- Less sugar cravings.
- I started this at 145 lbs, I am now 143 lbs. (weight loss is not a goal)
- 1 tbsp sugar OR 1/2 oz of simple syrup (both are optional)
- small bunch mint
- Juice of 3 limes (whatever tastes good to you – really depends on the size of the limes)
- soda water
- STEP 1
Muddle the sugar with leaves from the mint using a pestle and mortar (or use a small bowl and a spoon). I don’t use any sweetener and I still find this to be a delicious and refreshing drink.
- STEP 2
Put a handful of crushed ice into 2 tall glasses. Divide the lime juice between the glasses with the mint mix. Add a straw and top up with soda water and slices of lime and a sprig of mint. Enjoy ☺️