Niksen is the Dutch lifestyle trend that celebrates doing absolutely nothing

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Megan Murray
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Niksen is the excuse you’ve been looking for to sit back, have a cup of tea and do absolutely nothing. 

It’s been a while since we had a new Scandi lifestyle trend to embrace, hasn’t it? Our chic, Northern European cousins are masters at summing up a collective feeling in just one word, and it seems that most of them promote positive habits or ways of thinking while they’re at it.

And the latest one, picked up by Time Magazine, is here to tackle the increasing levels of stress and burnout felt by modern generations, encouraging us all to essentially chill the hell out. 

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Niksen is a word used by the Dutch to encapsulate the combined feeling and activity of doing absolutely nothing, with zero levels of purpose. Now, it doesn’t have to mean sitting still exactly, but is used for those times when your mind wanders, you may be pottering about at home, taking your time and without the burden of feeling like you need to achieve anything.

Although the Netherlands have obviously been using the word for hundreds of years, it seems like perfect time for it to migrate over to the UK, as burnout becomes a growing problem and the World Health Organisation even predicting a global pandemic within a decade.

Not to be confused with anxiety or depression, burnout is a state of extreme stress when the body goes into auto-pilot, leaving you feeling like a robot. It can creep up on us slowly, masked by a sense of ‘we’re all busy though, aren’t we?’ and seems to be a particularly millennial problem, caused essentially by taking on too much and a need to high performing at everything. 

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Niksen, by contrast, celebrates the joy of doing nothing and letting the world glide on past. Like a form of self-care, by practising niksen it is thought that we give our minds and bodies the chance to really, truly unwind.

How you ‘niks’ is up to you, and the joy of being idle is a very personal thing, so it’s unlikely that you’ll relish doing nothing in the same way as a friend. Below, though, we’ve picked out four ways you can start practicing some niksen time if you’re not sure how to get started. 

Sit by a window and just stare

No, seriously. The act of just curling up in a chair and sitting for a minute, with nowhere to be and nothing to do is exactly what niksen is all about. This is even better done when there’s a window to look out of, so that you can literally sit and watch the world go by. 

Lie on your bed and listen to music

Niksen should be nothing if not comfortable, and is there a more comfortable place than bed? We’d be hard pushed to find one if there is. Lying back and just letting your mind wander, with some of your favourite tunes on in the background is a great way to unfurl from the stress of your day. Don’t feel guilty about doing nothing, just enjoy doing nothing.  

Niksen: Dutch lifestyle trend
Niksen is about letting the world go by

Go for a walk 

Now when we say go for a walk, we don’t mean to anywhere in particular, the point of niksen is to achieve absolutely nothing. So if you have some spare time, or better yet, you’ve set aside some time to niksen, then why not take a stroll to nowhere in particular to clear your mind and just be.

Do something with your hands like knitting or a jigsaw

Again, we’re not asking you to work hard on a knitting pattern to whip up a new scarf for your great aunt. This act of just doing something with your hands should feel almost therapeutic, like you’re just doing it for the sake of it without a wider agenda.  

If you’re loving learning about lifestyle trends from Scandinavia and the Netherlands, check out all the ways you can use hygge to improve your life at home and at work here

Images: Getty


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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a senior digital writer for, who enjoys writing about homeware (particularly candles), travel, food trends, restaurants and all the wonderful things London has to offer.

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