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Why We Should All Be Embracing The Dutch Art Of Niksen

How to embrace the art of niksen

Why We Should All Be Embracing The Dutch Art Of Niksen

Just those words sound blissful…the art of doing nothing or ‘niksen,’ as the Dutch like to call it. I think you’re either in the camp of ‘hot-footers,’ who like to dart about and squeeze every last ounce out of the day, or you’re quite happy with the relaxed ambient plod of easy come, easy go. I’m definitely in the latter naturally, although with kids it’s increasingly difficult. I love the prospect of a weekend stretched ahead, without any specific plans.

The Times reported recently on the Dutch trend for ‘niksen,’ which is the art of doing nothing and feeling good about it. Books, such as ‘Niksen: The Power of Doing Nothing’ and ‘Niksen: The Dutch Art of Doing Nothing’ have sprung up. And if our love of the Scandi Hygee trend is anything to go by [who doesn’t love hunkering down for a cosy, night in with a roaring fire?], we will all be embracing the power of Niksen before too long.

New York Times journalist Olga Mecking has also written ‘Niksen: Embracing the Art Of Doing Nothing’ and explains that the Dutch have consciously uncoupled ‘busyness’ from their conception of personal success and happiness – even productivity. The Dutch have, apparently, found the perfect work-life balance. Now we all sit up, surely that’s what we’re all striving for?

Why We Should All Be Embracing The Dutch Art Of Niksen, 2In the book, she clarifies actual niksen activities and those that would appear niksen, but are far from it, such as scrolling through Instagram or watching a Netflix show. Even meditating is ‘fake niksen’. Making time to stare out of the window is ‘quintessentially niksen’ apparently, as it can be done at a moment’s notice and without any kit. Cycling around just for the sheer joy of feeling the sun on your face or maybe lying on the grass staring up at the clouds, is along the true niksen lines.

According to Mecking, niksen is about people who are happy to let themselves off the hook for the sake of their mental health. This is such an important skillset! We’ve all done it, tied ourselves up in knots to create the perfect birthday cake/kids birthday party/dinner party…and actually lost the essence of what we’re doing. No one cares if you buy the cake or get shop bought food, it’s about coming together and having a great time. We can be our own worst enemies, when it comes to piling on the pressure of expectation.

‘Busyness’ does not make us more capable or more productive than the next person. It just makes us rush around like a headless chicken half the time and leaves us feeling frazzled. Mecking says that Dutch society also acknowledges that chores, childrearing and relationships are all work and you’re just as entitled to a break from these, as you are from an office job.

Creating clear boundaries and sticking to them is something we must all strive to do. I was talking about it with a friend recently but being present and in the moment, when you play with your child or talk to your partner, is so important too. You are not really engaging, if your mind is elsewhere – planning what to have for dinner or scrolling through whatsapp. And we’ve all done this!

So, as we approach November, in what is an increasingly chaotic and crazy world around us, maybe we could all do with learning the art of niksen. I will definitely be giving it a go.

Picture Credit (top): Book photo created by freepik –

Emily Seares is an award-winning magazine editor and journalist and the founding editor of FashionBite. She was featured in VOGUE's Digital Powerlist Top 100 and is a quoted style expert for most national newspapers and magazines.

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