How often do you allow yourself to be? No phones. No computers or iPads. No TV. No chores or busywork. Free of all things that take you away from the awareness of your self? In a world that relishes productivity, doing nothing seems almost impossible, making it even more vital to our well-being and mental health. In fact, this idea of Niksen, which literally means "to do nothing," is practiced by the Dutch often, and is now being recommended by health professionals to reduce burnout and combat stress.
So how exactly does one do nothing? The key to Niksen is to do without purpose or agenda, to focus on carving out idle time to simply be, free of obligations and to-dos and guilt. Whether it's staring out the window, daydreaming, listening to music, or just sitting, the goal is to do so without expectation or need to achieve anything from it.
Here are a few tips to help get you started:
1. Carve Out Time. Start with 10 minutes regularly to be free of obligations, to-dos, and responsibilities. If you have kids, do this while they are sleeping, at school or extracurriculars, or take turns with your spouse so each of you can have some time alone.
2. Just Sit. Allow yourself to sit in a quiet place without a constant need to move or do. Simply sit and let yourself be however you are, wherever you are. Don't worry about staying present or observing your thoughts or changing anything. Release the need to always fill your time with something and just enjoy sitting!
3. Go with the Flow. Wherever the moment takes you, flow with it, releasing all expectations, feelings of guilt or "should-dos," or the need to be productive. If you find yourself struggling, try using this tool to help you ease into it.
4. Eliminate Distractions. Turn off your phone, laptop, iPad, and TV, and allow yourself a few moments to be without the need for connection or knowing. If you have to, try setting an alarm so you know when to get back to whatever it is you need to do.
5. Schedule a Float! If you find it hard to eliminate distractions try going for a 60-minute float therapy session. Not only will it eliminate all of your senses, allowing your mind a much-needed break from processing stimuli, but it will also relax your muscles and joints!
How often do you allow yourself to do nothing? Share your experiences in the comments below.
Love + Light,