Niksen is a Dutch verb which means ‘doing nothing’. Yes. That’s right. Literally nothing. But wait, what is nothing? Ah as much as I am tempted to forge a path down the philosophical rabbit hole that leads to magic and kittens, I will stay on point and discuss this is relation to mental health.
Niksen is one of many new buzzwords that is used to describe a kind of relaxation technique. A technique might be a bit strong of an understanding, rather Niksen is simply just allowing your thoughts to take place without judgement. It is similar to mindfulness, and upholds a similar concept.
Allow yourself to be in your conscious awareness and experience thoughts, without action or interpretation. Just be there in your thoughts. No iPhone, no music, just the sounds of nature and the wandering of your mind. Sounds simply enough?
We fidget, we use technology, we have the TV on, we listen to podcasts in our ‘downtime’. Do you ever have an hour, or 30mins where you just sit? And do nothing? Didn’t think so.
Our brains are so overwhelmed with information it can be hard to keep track. We have busy schedules, complex relationships, demanding bodies and Youtube. We often find ourselves tired and in need of more sleep, more downtime, more of less. But we most often don’t know how to slow down.
Mindfulness is understood as the awareness and acceptance of the present moment that encourages psychological wellbeing. This non-judgmental acceptance of one’s moment-to-moment experience, has been known to curb common forms of psychological distress—rumination, anxiety, worry, fear, anger, and so on —many of which involve the maladaptive tendencies to avoid, suppress, or over-engage with one’s distressing thoughts and emotions.
So wait now you want me to do nothing to help my mental health, I thought you told me to meditate?
Ah yes, there are many more formal meditative practices that are wonderful for wellbeing. But before you embark on that lengthy spiritual journey, start by sitting down, with no distractions and do nothing. You can time this on your phone if you wish. Try five-ten minutes to start. You don’t need to engage in a practical exercise, no need to hold any expectations. Just let your mind wander. No need to count, to think of a shopping list, to go anywhere at all in your mind. Just be there. This is something you brain craves as it unwinds from all of your ‘busyness’.
So give it a go. What about now?
Tips for doing nothing;
1) Find a space away from your phone or TV
2) Stay seating somewhere where there is natural light and sounds
3) Wear comfortable clothes
4) Enjoy a cushion or blanket
By Claudia Hounslow, Director & Psychologist